In this post you’ll see how to stay healthy on a road trip and what I did on a recent trip to stay on track!
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Recently, I drove from Cincinnati, Ohio to Pella, Iowa with my husband and learned a lot about healthy and mindful on the way. Since I’ve taken control of my physical and mental health, I realized I needed to change the way I road trip, and I wanted to share what I’ve learned. If you want to not feel lethargic when you get to the destination, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re ready to hit the road:
The Day Before You Leave:
1. Don’t procrastinate on packing!
- Life can be busy with work, family, or whatever is happening to you, so be sure to hold yourself accountable by setting a reminder in your ph
- The moment you find out when you leave, set an appointment in your calendar for an hour at least a day before you leave (or earlier if that works better for you!).
2. Stay Hydrated!
As you go through your checklist of things to pack, confirming your hotel reservations, etc, it’s easy to forget about what your body needs; I know I did! I ran around trying to remember everything I should pack (another reason why I made my checklist!) and I started to feel shaky and weak.
Then I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had a glass of water! There are plenty of people who say they simply don’t drink water because they don’t like the taste or because it’s “boring”. There are plenty of reasons to drink water and ways to make water more interesting!.
Going by your weight, you should be drinking between half an ounce to an ounce of water per pound you weigh a day. This depends on how active your day is. You should be closer to an ounce per pound if you workout that day.
- Dehydration can cause you to become weak, confused and have slower reaction time. If you want to be productive during your packing time, make sure to hydrate your body!
3. Pack your snacks!
Avoid feeling like you have to buy unhealthy, processed snacks at the gas stations by packing your own!
I don’t like packing a lunch when I’m on the road, because I don’t want to bring a bulky cooler with me as I drive. That doesn’t mean you can’t prep for the times in between meals when you need a little substance.
Later in this post, you’ll see a few ideas of snacks to bring with you that have good protein and will keep you full until your next meal.
4. Get some sleep!
Another reason to get your packing done on time is to be able to unwind and go to bed early. Just like staying hydrated, getting enough sleep is crucial to be able to stay alert as you drive.
It can be hard to stick to a strict bedtime when all the emotions of going on an adventure are swirling! At least 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep, put your electronics out of reach. We all have a hard time unplugging, especially from social media, but the blue light from electronics and even the content you read online can keep you from clearing your mind.
Instead reach for a book, or maybe even journal! There are a lot of different ways I like to unwind before bed, you can read a few for yourself HERE.
The Day You Leave
5. Stretch when you wake up:
Make sure to start your morning out right! For the next few hours, you’ll be confined to car, so use this time wisely. When you get out of bed, stretch it out!
In this post, I talk about a series of stretches you can do later on at gas stations. But for now, make sure start on a right note:
- As you stand, reach your hands to the sky and slowly roll your head back. You should feel a good stretch in your abs, back and shoulders.
- As you do this roll your head clockwise and counter-clockwise. Afterward, hinge your body at the waist and start to fold yourself down towards your knees. Don’t force yourself past the point of feeling the stretch. You should feel a stretch down along your back and the backs of your legs.
- Grab your elbows with the opposite hand while you are still folded and sway your upper body from left to right. This will start to wake up your side body.
- As you stand and straighten out, release your arms and twist your body from left to right, letting your arms swing with you.
This is a suggestion to stretch and wake your body up, but make it your own! As with any exercise or stretching practice, this should feel good for YOU! Don’t push yourself past the point of where you feel a deep stretch.
6. Get your Metabolism going!
Now that your body is all stretched out, make sure to get your blood flowing. Even doing a few jumping jacks, or a 10 minute yoga practice can kick start your metabolism.
This is something that I do on a typical morning, but I talked myself out of doing something active when I woke up on the morning of my drive and I regretted it! I recommend incorporating this into your regular morning routine. You can see my morning routine to start the day off HERE.
7. Go through your checklist!
Since you’ve already gotten your packing done ahead of time, this should be a very quick check. I have a printable checklist to use for packing for a road trip for you. Type your email in the box, and I’ll send it to you!
Having a physical list to check off of items to bring with you and actions to do will ensure you don’t forget anything!
8. Pack your car!
A simple way to have a successful and healthy road trip is to pack your car properly. Pack your car with your most needed items within reach. If you’re packing into a car, put your clothes, shower items, and shoes into the trunk.
I packed our car with the bags of clothes, shoes and shower items in the the back and I put our snacks in a separate bag with my handbag filled with necessities (like face spray, phone, wallet, etc) closer to our seats in the front.
ON THE ROAD:
9. Stay Hydrated (again!)
Like I said before, hydrating is so important. When we drove to Pella, it was still hot outside, so staying hydrated during the car ride was important to me.
Try to avoid sugary drinks like soda or concentrated fruit juices. Sugar can give you a momentary boost in energy, but that is very short lived and it’s definitely not worth the crash that comes after. Drinks like water and other healthier options like unsweetened tea, or drinks with electrolytes with low sugar will help to keep your energy levels up over the drive time.
If you need to stop to buy water or other drinks at a gas station, stick with the drinks the closest to water. Like in the picture, healthier options were right next to the water. Just remember, the farther away you get from water, the more sugary!
10. Eat your snacks full of protein!
When I was young on road trips, I was always was eating salty or sugary snacks I got at a gas station. I was really a sucker for Lays chips or Reeses cups, and I felt lethargic and groggy almost immediately after.
This time around, I prepped a little more and it certainly paid off. During this trip I only packed snacks that had protein in it.
If you are unfamiliar with protein or if you’re asking yourself, “Aren’t body builders the only people who care about protein?” Like I did when I first started to take control of my diet, then check out my post on protein and how I choose the right protein here.
What you eat along the way on your drive will be so important! Eating lean snacks with protein will help you stay healthy on a road trip.
Here are some of the snacks I packed:
- A baggie of almonds for the really long stretch of road ahead when one snack wasn’t enough.
- A few healthy protein bars with low amounts of sugar and sodium like these or these. With any protein or nut bar, I always recommend looking at the nutrition information. I brought two different flavors of bars from the same brand, but noticed a lot of difference in the nutrition informations.
If you find yourself needing to buy something at a gas station, then take some time and read the nutrition facts and compare what is in your snacks. Sometimes, these types of snacks can hide a ton of sodium and sugars and other unwanted ingredients in them!
- A small jar of almond butter to spread on any bars that didn’t have quite enough protein to sustain me. With two tablespoons of almond butter, there are seven grams of protein in it.
11. Only pick clean, colorful healthy meals!
As a vegetarian, I searched for meals that had a lot of color on the plate, but something I could get protein out of, too. If you’re a meat eater, I would still recommend basing your meals on the amount of color you see.
When you go out to eat, it’s really easy to order things like pancakes and hash browns for breakfast or a burger and fries for lunch, but it there isn’t a lot of color on those plates! A good rule of thumb I live by is, the closer your meal is to the rainbow, the more nutritious!
My Menu on the Drive
Stacks Restaurant in Greensburg, Indiana. With it being 6 a.m. our options were pretty limited as far as avoiding fast food.
After looking at their menu, I decided to go with the “The Health Club”.
When you order eggs at a restaurant, see if they can make your eggs with egg whites. Egg yolks contain 184 mg of Cholesterol! I would stick to one egg yolk or less per week!
I chose fruit as my side thanks to their health benefits, but just like sugar in anything else, the natural sugar in fruit can lead slowing down later. So, when it’s super important to stay alert (like when you’re driving) stick to eating your fruits in the first half of your day!
If you’re a coffee drinker like me (especially on a road trip at 6 am!) then make sure you’re not loading up with with sugar in your coffee!
If honey or stevia is an option over sugar, Sweet’N’Low, or other low calorie sweetener options always take it! Natural sweeteners are always a better choice.
Don’t forget to watch your creamer! Half and half or other fattening creamers that have lots of sugars are sneaky ways to crash later on in your drive!
Even when you’re not thinking about how to stay healthy on a road trip and you’re back home, be mindful of what you add to your morning “cup o’ Joe”!
Ivy Bake Shoppe & Café in Burlington, Iowa.
This is the part of the day I try to move away from juices and fruits and incorporate more vegetables in my meals. The darker your leafy greens, the better!
I went with the veggie sandwich with pesto mayo and a side salad. Out of my choices of dressing I chose vinegar and oil.
Drowning your salad in dressing heavy in sodium and fat sometimes isn’t much of an improvement over a cheeseburger! If you decide on a salad, choose a lean option for dressing!
I wish I would have remembered to ask what was actually IN the salad when I ordered it! There was shredded cheese full of sodium sprinkled all over it.
Don’t make the same mistake I did! When you’re on the road, it can be hard to think straight after a few hours of driving. Normally, I would have remembered to ask, but I was so excited to stop and do some stretches like these!. Cheese can be one of those things that may make a salad a little more tasty, but it’s not worth it. When I think about my relationship with food, I always try to remember to eat food that serves me!
Food should be delicious, but it should also be providing energy and nutrients our bodies need. So, the next time you think to yourself, “oh a little bit wont hurt”, make sure to ask yourself, “are these extras serving me and providing my body with what it needs?”. You might hesitate when you want to reach for fatty dressings or extra cheese.
Monarch’s Restaurant and Lounge Inside the hotel.
After all the hustle of checking into the hotel and unloading luggage, we were ready to eat! This should be a time for you to be adding lean, healthy protein for you to let your system get all the good nutrients and set you up for the rest of the night!
If you’re a meat eater, this might mean grilled chicken (without any fatty sauce smothered all over it) or fish. For any one on a plant-based diet, that means combing food to make a complete protein! I talk more about plant based protein here.
There wasn’t a lot great lean protein packed options, but I went with a split pea soup and the “Green Machine Salad” with spinach, edamame, avocado and celery. Sadly, This option was a little bland, but with adding some pepper and my balsamic vinegar and oil helped give it a little pep!
Choosing healthy meals on the road is doable when you stay mindful about what you put in your body. It’s true what they say, you are what you eat! So, if you want to be a lean machine, make sure your food choices match. Even if you’re stuck in a car!
What are some ways you stay healthy on a road trip? Let me know in the comments!