If you’ve been following along, you know that my husband and I are traveling for our first year of marriage. We work online and we can do that from anywhere with a wifi signal, so why not? Adventure isn’t exactly my middle name, but I do crave new things and I get bored easily, so exploring the world suits us perfectly. You can read more about that in my post from last fall here =)
We actually sold almost everything we owned and are doing all of this in a car with our dog! One thing that we get asked a lot is how we stay healthy with all the travel. We’ve managed to stay on track over long stretches of road trip time, 10 or 14 days at a time on he road.
I put together my personal ten most important things for a healthy road trip. These are straight from my experience and have been tried and tested true =)
1) Get Your Mind Right: Okay this is the most important thing you can possibly do when you are taking on any challenge. Get really clear on what you want and why you want it. Stop saying things like “this is going to be hard” or “man it’s really too bad we can’t eat at such and such place”. Replace it with excitement and pride in what you are doing. Know that you CAN do anything you want, and you are choosing a healthier way.
I always like to ask myself two things: 1) Why do I want this? and 2) What will it cost me if I don’t do this?. If I know what it is I am after, like feeling great, having energy to actually enjoy the activities we have planned, not being short with the other people in the car because I don’t feel well, etc. than the sacrifices of small unhealthy things along the way seem like a breeze. It’s all about priorities.
Above all, do NOT use wishy-washy language when talking about your commitment to this. No “we’ll see” or “I’ll try” or “we’ll do our best”. There is no room for uncertainty. You CAN and you WILL succeed at this!
2) Get Everyone on Board: Do not try to force this on the other people in the car. Nobody likes to be told what to do, and putting your goals on other people is not fair. The key is to find out what THEY want, and make it about them. I know for my husband, he is usually focused more on how he is going to look if he goes off the deep end with crappy food or drinks. For me it’s all about how I’ll feel. If he tried to convince me that we were planning to stay healthy on our trip so I can look good in my swimsuit, he’d probably get punched in the throat LOL 😉 Talk to your family or friends about why they want to make healthy choices. Obviously with children you may have to do some education so they know the benefits. There may also be some bribery hahaha, but that’s your call.
3) Plan Your Treats: I would highly recommend you don’t go overboard on keeping it healthy. If you don’t allow any wiggle room your family, and even yourself, may rebel completely. A great way to handle this is to plan your one big treat each day, or in each city. One “cheat” or “treat” or whatever you call them, is not going to derail your life at all. If it becomes a whole DAY, that’s when things usually go awry.
We have always packed all our own food for theme parks, but then had a great dinner at the end of the day with drinks. Usually that is more of a money thing, but we happen to eat healthy so it works out. You can do this on a grader scale on a road trip. In each city along your trip you can research some place really cool that you want to eat or some place you haven’t had in forever, but loved when you used to live there, that kind of thing. If you know that an epic ice cream sundae is coming this afternoon, eating your boring almonds and hard boiled eggs won’t seem so bad =P
It’s all about balance. This is a GREAT way to get the family involved like I mentioned in number 2. The trade off of letting them pick something is helpful, and you can come back to it when they seem to be straying. A simple “but remember we are eating at X tomorrow” can go a long way.
4) Get Your Cooler Game on Lock: Okay so bringing a cooler is like “uh yeah duh…” but there are some things you need to know! First off, don’t get reusable ice packs that have to be frozen. Use really high quality ziploc bags or buy something reusable that can be filled with ice. This might seem obvious, but if not, think about this. No matter where you are staying in a hotel, camp ground, etc, the chances of you having a place to actually re-freeze your packs is very slim. Also, how will you keep the food cold in the hours it takes to do that. You can get ice almost anywhere, dump the melted water, and refill with ice. Our melted ice doubled as water for the dog too. Of course bring the extra bags so you can adjust if you need more ice packs on hotter days. If it isn’t clear, do NOT pour the ice on the food!!! I am saying it goes IN the bags. We are not making a swimming pool for your food.
I could write you a whole post on how to pack things. I am an amazing packer and probably could have made a living playing Tetris or something. I can fit your whole life in 1 suitcase. This is NOT the time for that! Do not pack your cooler too perfect, or over pack it. If you take one thing out of there, you won’t be able to get everything back in, it’s like folding a map. Once getting in and out of the cooler becomes a hassle you’re screwed. For that same reason, keep the cooler readily available. Don’t assume you’ll be stopping to get things in and out of it and put it all the way in the back, or put things on top of it. Trust me, I know they’ll be a perfect spot for it and the OCD in your will scream about not putting it there. Trust me!
5) Perfect Your Packing Skills: This is huge, because it applies to the cooler items and dry items. I could write a whole post just on this. You can’t just get all the healthy food and call it good. That’s a nice effort of course, we just also need it to be practical. First thing, whatever containers you use, please use good ones. If one thing spills you will spend an afternoon cleaning. Again, once the food becomes more of a hassle than it’s worth to you, you’ll bail on the whole idea.
Use the best container for each type of food. Quality sealing plastic containers for soft things, great sealing zip bags for the things that can take a little more beating, refillable water bottles that you can use a gallon jug to fill each time, instead of taking up space with bottles, things like that. Again, do not over pack or leave no space. The one thing I have done wrong in the past is packing all the same food together and then the next and so on. Well if I need my sweet potatoes, my hard boiled egg and my almonds, and all the eggs are on the bottom right, I have to uproot the whole thing for one snack.
I quickly learned to pack meals together! Instead of a container of eggs, consider packing a whole meal into that container. If you really want to commit, you can but Day 1 – Meal 1 and so on right on them with a sharpie, and put them in that order instead. I promise this will make it so easy to grab them. Plus since your treat meals are planned already, you’ll know which meals to skip, and you won’t over or under pack. Wasted food sucks, and so does running out and using it as an excuse to go off plan.
6) Plan the Perfect Portions: This comes right off the tail of the previous two tips. If you plan your portions in advance you can pack meals, snacks, etc really easily. This is how I prevent myself from eating an entire bag of trail mix absentmindedly. I know we’ve all done that. Gone for a
handful, then another, then wait what … it’s empty?! 1000 calories in nuts and raisins later …
I personally use The 21 Day Fix portion containers (which you can get, along with the 30 minute workouts, from my site here) and then I got the primary colored baggies at target (these ones), and just matched them all up. For instance if two hard boiled eggs are a red, then two eggs go into a red baggie. 1 serving of 10 baby carrots is a green, so toss those into a green baggie. I know I can have so much hummus, or so much dried fruit, and so many mixed nuts, etc. I put those in the snack size baggies or buy the to-go hummus sizes. I think you get my point.
This way I can take one gallon size bag, drop in one of each color, a couple snack sizes, and my meal is done. No fuss, nothing to think about later, and no “what do I feel like eating?” nonsense that gets us in trouble. I won’t over eat, and it doesn’t become a free for all from the cooler leaving me with just 8 hummus containers and some olives at the end wondering what the hell happened LOL.
7) Make Peace with Your Bladder: This one was big for me. I am the kind of person that just wants to drive. No stops until my gas light is yelling at me. I just want to drive and get there. I would skip out on my normal water, so that I wouldn’t have to use the restroom too often. I had to let that go. It’s recommended that on a normal day you drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces. I tend to sit right around 170 pounds, so that is about 85 ounces of water each day when I’m not traveling. With travel you can be more dehydrated and need to stay alert even more, so shoot for more.
Since we are adults, keeping a gallon of water up front with us is no big deal. Kids obviously need smaller containers, but for us we committed to drinking it all. Just accept now that there will be a lot of stops. Plan for them in your arrival and departure times and embrace it. If you just accept it, you won’t be dreading or be annoyed by it, it just is what it is. It’s actually really good for your body to get up every hour or so anyway, to keep from the swelling and bloating from travel. It’s a win-win.
8) Gas Stops Aren’t Party Stops: This one is directed at my snackers! I don’t usually have this issue, but my husband does for sure. The walk through the gas station to use the restroom turns into a shopping spree of candy, cookies, chips, and sugary drinks. Not only can that add up HUGE on your travel budget, but wow the extra calories. Make a commitment to yourself now that you will ONLY buy gas and water at gas stations.
Honestly for me, I LOVE food. Good, amazing, high quality food. I don’t feel like crappy cookies from a gas station is where I would want to spend my few treat meals. Take me to a steak house or an ice cream parlor or something at least =P Think about these choices, gas station food isn’t even that good! It’s over priced, going to make your body feel like crap, and it’s a long road ahead of more and more of these temptations. It can be a slippery slope if you let it go once. Just say no.
9) Don’t Screw with Your Sleep: This may not be something that other people have a problem with, but I do. I hate to drive during the day. All those people in my way and all those daylight hours wasted. I am the type that says “Oh it’s 2 am, my turn!” and will drive through the night. I can sleep when I’m dead right? Well that might be sooner than I’d like if i don’t get some dang sleep =P
There are 3 big reasons I feel that you should keep your normal sleep schedule on a road trip. First, the cortisol in your body is affected by lack off sleep. This can affect hormones, thyroid and adrenal functions. The normal way this shows up is swelling and puffiness in the mid section. It also can leave you pale, dry, and overly hungry, or totally without an appetite. I don’t know about you, but that is not how I want to feel or look on my vacation. Coming back from your trip, those effects can linger for up to a week!
The other two reasons are more simple. Being tired sucks, and you will probably act like a jerk to the people you’re on the trip with or have less fun at your day time activities. That is lame and no one wants that. The last one is obviously safety. I mean really, you CAN drive through, but should you? Is saving that time really worth risking the lives of the people in your car, or the other ones on the road?
10) Keep Your Body Moving: I don’t expect people to get a workout in every day on a road trip. If you have something short like 10 Minute Trainer or Focus T25, hey throw that in when you can. Now that we have all our workouts On Demand with your Club Membership you can do them right from your phone anywhere.
Even though I don’t get a workout in every day, I do have a fitness focused mindset when I am out. At each gas station, get out and walk around (not in the cookie aisle =P) even if you don’t have to go to the restroom. Feel free to jump or run a little, everyone at road trip gas stations is way crazier than you, don’t worry they won’t care. Heck get everyone out and run circles around the car and make some musical chairs of it for entertainment value.
Park further away from places that you need to so that you can get a few extra steps in. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Just focus on keeping moving. This will help you from swelling up, help you from getting overly tired or sluggish, and it can keep your blood sugar a bit more normal if that’s an issue for you like it is for me.
You can also plan hikes, walking tours, and things like biking or kayaking into your trip. They are all fun, and not too tiring. We don’t want you to pass out from exhaustion each night LOL, just want to keep the body going!
Those were my personal ten best tips for staying on point with your health and fitness on a road trip. Some of it may seem crazy or over the top. Commitment to a healthy lifestyle is not for everyone and I know that. I also know that travel is one of the biggest reasons I see people fall off their workout or meal plans and give up. The slip turns into a slide and they feel like they are starting all over again. Your road trip does not have to be a setback in your fitness journey and you are completely in control to make sure it’s not!
As always, if you need any help with nutrition or fitness, I am always here for you! Just an email away at firstname.lastname@example.org <3