Staying healthy is a top concern for most Americans. After all, the United States has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. With so many tempting options, like fast-food restaurants, sweet treats, and savory dishes, it’s easy to pack on the pounds if you’re not getting enough exercise.
One of the most common health concerns revolves around travel. There are many food options available when you travel to new destinations, and they might not always be the healthiest. This is especially true if you’re going on a road trip with the family.
Most of the options available to you on a road trip are limited to fast-food restaurants, gas station fare, and the occasional continental breakfast at your preferred hotel. When your trip revolves around getting to that final destination, it’s easy to grab a packaged snack and call it a day.
Why it’s so hard to stay healthy while on a road trip
It’s hard to learn how to stay healthy on a road trip primarily because it doesn’t feel like real life. Even though you’re sticking to a quality wellness plan at home, extending these efforts outside of your city’s walls can be a serious problem. After all, how many times are we able to bask in the beauty of the open road with your family? For many, rules about your diet and health are tossed aside in favor of new experiences, relaxation, and any tasty treats you can find along the way.
On top of that, it’s not always easy to identify the healthiest options when you’re on the open road. As mentioned above, you will typically have access to fast-food places, gas stations, and mini marts full of easy-to-snack on cookies and chips. You might also be guzzling energy drinks and sugary coffee options a lot more than usual in an effort to stay awake on the road.
Worst of all? You won’t be moving around. Road trips can be a lot of fun, but they’re not known to be the healthiest of vacations. Sitting in a car for hours on end limits your movement and promotes lethargy. In some cases, sitting in the car for too long can irritate an old athletic injury, promote back and leg pain, and impact your circulation. If you’re eating the wrong foods and failing to get the exercise you need, you’ll be more irritable on what’s supposed to be a fun vacation.
It’s apparent that folks getting ready for a road trip need as much help as they can get when it comes to staying healthy. Here are some of the best ways we can learn how to stay healthy on a road trip, whether you’re traveling for a few hours or a few days.
Pack the right foods
You might think that you’re limited to cheap, greasy, packaged foods on your journey but this couldn’t be further from the truth. When you want to know how to stay healthy on a road trip, it all comes down to your diet: ditch the chips and choose fruits and vegetables instead.
Storing these foods will be a little more of a hassle than you’re classic bag of chips, but a simple cooler will work wonders when you want a cold bottle of water or a chilled peach on the road. Pack a few items to get you through a couple of days and stop at local supermarkets to stock up on foods every chance you get.
If you don’t have a cooler, it’s still important to pack waters and healthy snacking options. Bagged popcorn is a healthier alternative to greasy chips and flavored versions can be just as delicious. Trail mix is another popular alternative since you can make them stand out with chocolates, peanuts, and other fun add-ins. Best of all? They can be pre-portioned into snack bags so you don’t overindulge on the road. This is great for children who might get a little too excited over the prospect of having snacks so close by.
Plan in activities
Some road trippers are so set on their final destination that they aren’t willing to take in the world around them. Unfortunately, this misses the entire point of a road trip. Traveling the United States by car offers the unique ability to check out local landmarks, state parks, and cultural features that you would otherwise miss if you were traveling by air.
As such, planning out your route — along with the unique features you can visit on the way — should be a top priority for the new road tripper. This will enable you to get out and get some exercise when you need it most, especially if you have a pet that wants to hike those trails with you. Just be sure to engage in the right animal wellness practices: never leave your dog in a hot car and stop often for potty breaks.
Simply walking around a museum can be a great way to stretch your limbs and negate some of the adverse effects of driving around the country. But for more active families, scoping out the best hiking spots, kayaking locations, and nature tours can make your journey all the more exciting. There are great spots for white water rafting throughout the United States and you don’t even need to bring your own gear since these locations typically provide everything you need. Bring along a swimsuit in the event that a trip to a river or beach sounds exciting.
When you’re in the car, however, you can also incorporate important movements to keep your blood flowing. Experts recommended regularly moving your limbs, like wiggling your feet and stretching your arms, each hour or so to stimulate blood flow. Ankle and leg circles, shoulder shrugs, and flexing your muscles are all great ways to stop fatigue and pain from setting in. This is especially important for folks suffering from hypertension that might experience these adverse side effects more quickly than others. The same goes for pregnant individuals.
Here are a few other simple activities you can do in the car to protect your health:
- Abdominal flexes can help keep your core tight and your back more supported.
- Kegels are key to promoting a healthy pelvic floor. Pretend like you’re holding in urine for a minute or so and then release the tension. A couple of these each hour should be enough to keep your pelvic floor supported.
- Stretch whenever you can, especially your neck and shoulders. This is particularly important for the driver who might be holding more tension than they know. Learning how to stay healthy on a road trip goes for passengers and drivers, alike.
Planning in these activities and exercises will also help reduce fatigue on the road. This is vital for the driver. At the first sign that you’re getting sleepy, it’s important to pull over and switch drivers. Falling asleep at the wheel is a huge problem throughout the United States. Even though an injury attorney will have your back in the event of an accident, you don’t want that “back” to wind up in the hospital because of a collision. Worse yet, you might be the one paying for the bail bond to get out if you were the at-fault driver in the accident.
Staying active is one of the best ways for how to stay healthy on a road trip.
Locate healthcare services along the way
Accidents can happen at any time, whether you’re considered traditionally healthy or not. In the event that an accident occurs, you need to know where the nearest emergency rooms and urgent care centers are located for immediate treatment.
These healthcare services will be key for a variety of reasons. Not only will they help you in the event of an emergency, but they can be a great resource for a variety of needs, including allergies and sudden colds. These facilities typically have affordable medications at the ready that might be even cheaper than your local supermarket.
Locating healthcare services is also important if you’re suffering from a chronic condition or coping with a long-term health concern, like pregnancy. Should anything go wrong on the road, you will want to navigate to the best urgent care clinics and hospitals as soon as you can.
Speaking of healthcare, you’ll also want to pack a first-aid kit. After all, you shouldn’t have to seek out the ER if your kid trips and scrapes their knee. With a simple concoction of rubbing alcohol and Neosporin, you can wrap up the injury and continue on your way. Your first-aid kit should also contain throat lozenges, gauze wraps, an extra bottle of water, and ibuprofen. If any member of your family suffers from car sickness, including a few anti-nausea pills, like Dramamine, can help keep your family on the road and on schedule.
How to stay healthy on a road trip — and safe
Even if you’ve mapped out the best healthcare locations and have included a first-aid kit with everything you need, road accidents can still happen. That’s why it’s important to buy a dash camera to record the road. These handy cameras can be vital when it comes to proving who is at-fault for your insurance company. If you were the victim of an accident, your dash camera will prove that the other guy is responsible for your collision repairs.This can be essential, especially if you used the last of your savings to make this road trip a reality in the first place.
Modern dash cams can even connect the feed directly to your phone. You will want to share this information with your injury attorney, insurance specialists, and anyone else that might find it valuable as you build your case.
Staying safe also means that you’re using defensive driving skills. It can be tempting to drive 80 miles per hour when you’re on a long stretch of highway, but it’s best to follow the speed limit and watch out for the actions of other drivers. This is doubly important if you’re toting passengers in your car.
That being said, you should also follow the basic rules of the road: don’t drink while driving. Even though it’s your vacation, any open bottles in the car can come back to bite you later, even if the driver hasn’t had a single sip of alcohol. It’s best to wait to drink when you’ll be parked for a while.
Speaking of parking, you will also want to protect your beautiful ride on your journey. Try to park it under awnings or inside a garage with quality garage door spring repair services if you’re able. Some hotels and motels offer car storage at an additional price. This will also help keep the valuables inside of your car safe.
How to stay healthy on a road trip
This guide on how to stay healthy on a road trip will be the best tool in your arsenal. Follow these ideas to prevent falling into the common health traps that long drives can cause.