Staying Healthy on the Road
Greetings from Florida! After 3 long days in the car, we are finally in Florida! If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may already know that my husband and I are no strangers to the road. Sometimes airline tickets are just too costly so we have done many cross-country road trips. From L.A. to Florida. Florida to Cleveland. Cleveland to Phoenix. We’ve done it all and we have done it many times!
Being on the road can make eating healthy a little difficult. Although it is always fun to scope out local places, we have gotten to the point where we just want to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible and don’t like making long stops unless it’s to sleep for the night. When you are in the middle of nowhere, your options for food are obviously quite limited. There’s always McDonald’s and other typical fast food restaurants and that can be it. Unless it’s In-N-Out, we do not stop for fast food while on the road. I hate the way it makes me feel and when you are going to be in the car for days, you can’t always eat fast food for every meal. I thought it might be fun to share some of our best tips for keeping things light and healthy on the road! It doesn’t have to be a lot of work. We just follow 4 simple rules!
So, here you go!
This is my number one tip, but it’s also pretty broad. For us, planning ahead generally means two things: 1. Packing our car with plenty of snack options and 2. Knowing our route so we can plan where to stop for meals. I’ll explain these in more detail in a bit, but having a food plan is really important if you are wanting to avoid eating lots of junk on the road. We always hit up the grocery store before a big trip and stock up on everything we need for our trips.
Not having a plan and not being prepared usually means you will be buying a lot of snacks at the gas station (and spending too much money) and that you will be eating a lot of fast food.
2. Pack your own snacks and pack plenty of them!
I mentioned this one above, but it’s a big one for us! For this trip, we packed a ton of our own snacks including nuts, homemade fruit leathers, homemade trail mix, and granola bars. We also made some PB&J sandwiches in case we were feeling extra hungry. In the cooler, we packed cheese sticks, baby carrots, hummus, bottled smoothies, and apple slices. I also made a couple of roast chicken sandwiches with leftover rotisserie chicken that we could eat within the first day or two of our trip.
Having good options in the car means you will be much less likely to go on a binge at the gas station and buy a lot of junk. We felt good about the snacks we packed. We stayed in hotels that had a fridge in the room so we could keep things cold at night and in the cooler in the car.
3. Stay hydrated and avoid eating too much salt.
When you are going to be spending a lot of time on the road, it’s important to stay hydrated and avoid eating too much salt. Too many salty snacks can cause water retention and when you are sitting for long periods of time barely moving, it can make you feel really bloated and uncomfortable. I try to limit the amount of salty snacks I pack and for nuts, I often reach for raw or lightly salted.
4.Know your route and figure out what cities you will be in at meal times.
Here’s where that planning ahead thing comes in again! Whenever we do a long drive, we try to get a sense of where we will be around lunch and dinner time. Once we know, we can then look up what restaurants that are around the area for us to stop at. We have our own lists of places we like so think about what some of your favorite restaurants are and see if they are in those cities. For example, I would much rather eat a sandwich from Panera or Jimmy Johns than eat fast food so we look for those types of places. You can try to get a sense before heading out on your trip, but we often just have whoever is not driving look up places on our phones. Just make sure you have service! My husband knew our route and bookmarked our favorite places (as well as local, smaller places that had good reviews) along the entire route before we left. This may sound like its a lot of work, but it’s not, it just took about 30 minutes and it was worth every second!
If you know you are going to be in really isolated areas, you may want to consider packing your own sandwiches or stopping a little earlier and saving your food for meal times. We try to look for places that are close to the highways so we don’t have to wander too far.
See, I don’t have too many rules here, but doing these few things helps us to feel so much better when we are traveling. There’s nothing worse than feeling bloated or having a stomach ache from eating too many bad foods. Planning ahead helps us to enjoy our trips a little more. Spontaneity on the road can be fun, but it makes eating healthy difficult so you just have to find the balance!
Next week I will have a couple of more recipes to share along with a round up of great road trip snack options!