A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Prepping for a healthy road trip

on November 26, 2013

Lots of us are hitting the road for the holidays. First and foremost, drive safely! In the spirit of prior travel-related posts (food and workouts on the road), I thought road trips deserved their own discussion since they can be a little different than air travel, in good and bad ways. The nice thing about a road trip is that you have more options as far as food to bring along or stop for and when and where you take a break to move around. My favorite thing about traveling by car as opposed to traveling by plane is the ability to bring more stuff (and I don’t just mean that because I’m an overpacker!). You can bring whatever workout gear you’ll need for your destination, so long as fits in your car, like weights or shoes or your bike. You can also bring a cooler complete with snacks and any particular foods you need when you arrive. That takes the idea of wandering around on foot trying to find fresh fruit near your hotel out of the picture, which is really nice. We’ll be bringing a cooler as well as a bag with snacks for the road and planning to stop at a grocery store when we arrive, which will make things a lot easier.

Confession: I removed my husband's chocolate covered donuts from the top of the bag before taking this pic.

Confession: I removed my husband’s chocolate covered donuts from the top of the bag before taking this pic.

Some ideas for road-trip friendly snacks:

  • Bottled water / healthy beverage of choice (we always have the little UHT milk boxes).
  • Fresh fruit: Grapes, apple slices travel well for snacking; bananas can also be good but you need somewhere to store the peels. We also pack freeze dried fruit – my son loves the blueberries!
  • Veggies: If you’re someone who likes to snack on raw veggies (confession: I am not!), bring some along.
  • Popcorn (popped, obvs), any other healthy salty snack: I like PopChips and the Kavli Rye crackers. Boom Chicka Pop is also great for pre-popped popcorn, especially the “slightly sweet” version.
  • Nuts: A limited and pre-portioned amount, as nuts are undoubtedly good for you but very high in calories if you aren’t careful with the number of handfuls you’re grabbing!
  • String cheese / BabyBel cheese wheels
  • Cereal bar / snack bar: I like the Fiber One 90 calorie bars (2 points) or the Trader Joe’s cereal bars (taste more like real fruit than the Nutrigrain version, 3 points)

Anything that doesn’t require a dip or utensils will work (not that you couldn’t also do dip / utensils as a passenger, but it could get tricky!). Just be sure you’ve pre-portioned it so you don’t grab more than you intend to while you’re distracted by the road and be sure you have a plan for containing the garbage in the car.

I also make myself a lunch, just like I do for a regular workday, with a sandwich, chips/crackers, fruit and a drink, so that I don’t have to settle whatever fast food option we’re passing at the time. If you can, try to time your breaks for meals near a bigger city so that you have more options. In a lot of small towns we drive through on the way to Arkansas, McDonalds is the only option so your healthy dining choices are going to be restricted. In case you forget your lunch or don’t pack one (or eat it an hour into your trip, well ahead of lunch time – not that I’ve ever done that), go ahead and look at a couple of fast food menus and decide what you would order if that’s where you end up eating. Just being prepared ahead of time helps you feel more empowered and less tempted to go off the rails when you’re faced with that menu and drive through. My fall back option is usually a kids meal, FYI. Just try not to think about the fact that the kids meals contain what is actually a more appropriate number of calories for an adult meal – it gets depressing fast!


Also plan on having something to distract you along the way so you can avoid the mindless eating, like a new audiobook or new music or a traveling companion who promises to help you stay on track! Plan for real food at least one meal of the day, even if that means taking a little extra time to stop and find a restaurant where you can actually sit down with real utensils and real vegetables at some point during the day for really long trips. For us, we’ll be able to do breakfast and dinner as real food so that should help.

As far as activity goes, this is the real disadvantage as compared to air travel because you really can’t get up and walk around in the car (unless you’re in an RV I guess and then you should still limit it for safety!). You can definitely still try to move your legs around and do all of the things you’re supposed to do on a plane to avoid blood clots (check out info from the CDC here and Hematology.org here). I would also recommend getting up to walk around any time you’re at a gas station or stopped for lunch or potty breaks. Secure your car (and be someone is supervising your kids/pets) and take a quick walk, even just around the store or the parking lot. Any movement helps and can add up over the course of the day. Given my little goal of running in all 50 states and the fact that we drive through several states on the way to Arkansas, I may be hopping out of the car to run a quick half mile in Missouri while my husband pumps gas and supervises two year old potty breaks. We’ll see – I’d feel a little silly, but it would help me get some activity in for the day. If you have a work out on your training plan that needs to be completed on a day you’re road tripping, I would really try to get it done before you hit the road. It’s a lot less stressful than worrying about having to get to your destination in time to finish your workout and after being in the car for several hours, you may be too stiff to get in a quality workout. A little walk or run after you hit your destination would feel really good, but you may not be capable of the intensity / form you’d really like, so think about that in your planning.

Travel safe this week! Pay attention to the roads even if you aren’t traveling – lots of people driving your streets are visitors and aren’t going to know where they’re going. Be patient, be kind and be careful!


5 responses to “Prepping for a healthy road trip

  1. […] talked before about preparing healthy snacks for a road trip, but I thought I’d share the rest of my slightly obsessive planning routine for a road trip. My […]

  2. […] on vacation. Check out my post on running on the road here and overall healthy tips while traveling here and here. I travel a lot for my job, so check out any travel related posts here. Thanks as always […]

  3. […] McDonald’s for food options. I usually pack our lunches for this trip (see my road trip tips here) but it’s always good to think about a back up plan. My go-to for emergency McDonald’s […]

  4. […] and veggies are my friends for my road trips: I’m driving down to Kansas City for the lecture I’m giving and will bring along fruits […]

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