6 Tips for a Healthier Family Road Trip


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  13 comments   :  17,906 Views

Planning a family road trip? Keep your family fit and healthy along the way. When you’re traveling by car, you spend a lot of time planning your course. We all want to make good time, but it’s also important to schedule several breaks into your itinerary, especially when you have kids:
  • Pack a cooler full of healthy snacks and even complete meals. Chopped veggies, fresh fruits, bottled water and juice, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn, and pretzels make easy travel fare.
  • Don’t skip meals, and try not to go more than 4 or 5 hours without eating. Being famished at mealtime may hinder your ability to make healthy choices and can trigger overeating. Plus, constant energy levels will keep you alert at the wheel.
  • Avoid eating full meals in the car. Take time to stop, relax and enjoy your meals as a family. This way, you can pay closer attention to your hunger and satiety signals.
  • Plan exercise and stretching breaks as well. Just three 10-minute pit stops add up to 30 minutes of activity. Go for a quick jog or walk, stretch, and run around with the kids. Back in the car, you’ll be more alert and energetic.
  • Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks. While they do give you a short energy burst, the drop when caffeine wears off can make you even more tired. For stable energy levels, drink plenty of water and eat healthy, whole foods that keep blood sugar levels from spiking and dropping.
  • Be wary of fast food and roadside restaurants. If you have no other options, choose the healthiest possible items and keep portion sizes small. One way to avoid excess calories and fat is to hold the mayo, special sauces, cheese, and dressings. Also opt for non-breaded items and kid-sized portions for everyone.

Parents: Do you have any healthy road trip tips to add?

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  • 13
    Thanks for this. At the end of July we're going to be traveling 14 hours each way. I was already stressing about undoing any progress done by eating nonstop fast food for 4 days (2 days down, 2 days back). - 5/29/2016   2:49:57 PM
    We just did this over the summer. I am so glad we packed a cooler. We stopped and had picnic meals where the kids could run around and burn off some energy. We also ended up in a four hour detour delay. Having food with us was a big deal! We were not planning to be stopped in hours of traffic in the middle of nowhere at dinner time, but it happened. I just hopped out and gathered fruit and yogurt from the cooler for snacks. That kept everyone hapoy until we could get off the road. - 12/29/2013   12:07:04 AM
  • 11
    Many times on vacation (3 week road trip) we would stop by the local grocery stores to get fresh stuff to put in our cooler and eat picnic like along side of roads (off main roads and sometimes parking lots) kids loved it.

    We always had fresh fruit available ..... although they wouldn't let us cross into California with it. LOL (except the totally frozen grapes in my cooler, she let slide). lol - 12/15/2013   12:08:40 PM
  • 10
    Over the past year I have started packing an insulated bag with some snacks for road trips. It makes a huge difference. - 12/15/2013   10:26:32 AM
  • 9
    Good advice! We always buy what I call "road food"...it's usually stuff that I wouldn't allow in my house. Our next trip will be over Christmas break. I am going to try packing my cooler instead! - 12/15/2013   8:46:03 AM
  • 8
    Really good advice. - 8/6/2012   1:18:35 PM
  • 7
    Another suggestion when eating out - find a restaurant that serves veggies. I know they aren't always the healthiest, but I have lost weight eating fried chicken and veggies for dinner. As a money saving idea, the hubby would order a 4-piece fried chicken dinner that came with two sides, then I would order an additional side or two. He would give me two pieces of chicken and sometimes one of his sides.

    The point is, splitting meals helps to keep me from over-eating whenever I eat out. - 8/6/2012   1:05:03 PM
  • 6
    good advice! - 8/6/2012   7:16:44 AM
  • 5
    We drove to MN last month and I did everything on the list, on the way there but on the way back I didn't have the cooler full of healthy snacks.
    I only gained 3lbs :) I blame it on the hotel not having a fully functioning gym and not being able to stock the cooler for the return trip.
    Walking around the rest stop really helped. Ohio has the best rest stops - 8/6/2012   6:08:51 AM
  • 4
    We went from Chicago to Los Angeles on a six week trip back in 1977, and I gained 18#, so gaining on a trip can certainly happen. - 8/6/2012   12:15:50 AM
  • 3
    great tips and they will come in handy on my next road trip!! TY!!! - 8/5/2012   11:14:07 PM
  • BIGB280
    My wife and I just completed a 2600 mile road trip in 10 days. We stopped at 7 different MLB ball parks along the way. We made sure our cooler was stocked with plenty of water and healthy snacks. We planned to eat breakfast in our room, which most days was cereal, yogurt, and fruit. We tried to avoid fast food places, but stopped and enjoyed a couple of them. We also opted to eat dinner outside the ball parks so we wouldn't be eating all that ballpark food. Overall we had a great trip and for the most part watched what we ate. - 8/5/2012   10:47:50 PM
  • 1
    The last 8+ hour road trip with my hubby I was on a diet and worried, but with a little planning and looking for 400 calorie meals and fruit and water....I stayed on course! Preparation is key!!! - 8/5/2012   10:03:03 PM

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