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Healthy Tips

A Road Map to Health on the Road

Healthy Tips for Healthy Trips

From long weekend getaways to drives that are as much about the journey as the destination, you’re likely to spend travel time in the car at some point. And as easy as it is to forgo the good habits and give in to the fast food options, it’s just as easy to stay on the healthy track.

Eat Smart

A healthy diet is the most common good habit to go out the window on a road trip. But a little preparation can go a long way.

On a two- to three- hour drive, it’s all about the packable snacks. While you can definitely plan to be on the road between meals, having healthy snacks on hand can help you fight temptation at the gas station if hunger strikes. Go for homemade granola bars, healthy trail mix and your favorite fruit. With a few ice packs or small cooler, you can extend your snack options to include yogurt, string cheese, veggies and hummus. Packing snacks in individual bags can also help you regulate serving size.

For trips lasting five to six hours, you’ll want more than snacks on hand. Opt for wraps and draw inspiration from your favorite healthy pack lunches. Take full advantage of that cooler to make the meals you want. If possible, take the time to stop and eat. Not only will the break give you an opportunity to stretch your legs – more on that later – it will allow you to enjoy a more traditional, well-paced and proportional meal.

On drives longer than six hours – those eight- to 10-hour and full-day drives – eating gets a bit trickier. Ice packs will lose their cool, so it’s important to pack foods that will last. Similarly, it may not be possible to pack food for every meal on a long road trip, nor should you necessarily want to. Sampling the local flavor can be part of the fun. So do some research in advance about the options along your route to ensure you’re stopping at the healthiest roadside spot and not the first fast food joint you see. Even if there’s no character on the menu, a little foresight can ensure you’re making the healthiest choice.

Finally, healthy eating on the road isn’t only about what you eat. It’s about keeping your body in a healthy routine as well. So, try not to skip meals and try to eat at about the same times you’re used to. That way, you’re less tempted at odd hours and less likely to cave in for food you’ll regret.

Stay Hydrated

You may think coffee and energy drinks are the key to powering through a road trip, but the answer is much simpler: water. And lots of it. Water will keep you and your brain hydrated. Bring your own water bottles that you can refill at rest stops, or throw a few extra water bottles in the cooler with your snacks. Better yet, freeze your water bottle. It can double as an ice pack, and when it melts, you have refreshing ice cold water.

Caffeine, of course, can be a necessity on long drives. In those cases, try to avoid unhealthy energy drinks and beverages with too much sugar. In moderation, coffee can be a healthy choice.

Sit Pretty

Posture can make or break how you feel after a long drive. Adjust your seat and use pillows to make it as comfortable as possible. Sitting straight and tall can help avoid back and neck pain during the drive. Take breaks when you need to roll your shoulders, stretch your neck and realign your posture.

Get Loose

Loose, light layers are going to help with your circulation and prevent overheating on long drives. Ultimately, it’s all about comfort. If you’re really looking to dress for the road, compression socks can help prevent achy muscles from sitting for long stretches.

Stretch Out Often

Speaking of long stretches, it’s important to take breaks and get out of the car every two or three hours. Do a few stretches that target the hip flexors, lower back, shoulders and neck, as those muscles are most likely to tense up while driving. This is another area where a little planning yields extra nice rewards: Check to see if there are any national parks or nature walks along your route, and get in a little sightseeing while you’re at it.

If you’ve packed a yoga mat or resistance bands for working out on your vacation, you may even feel compelled to have a mini workout.

Block the Sun

You should wear some form of sunscreen every day, and a day in the car is no exception. Windshields and windows don’t protect particularly well against the sun, and depending on your route, you may have to drive. Sunglasses with SPF protection also are essential. Not only will they help with visibility on the drive, but they can also protect your eyes from damage.