Road trips are one of the most fun methods of travel out there!
They allow you to really take in the scenery and present the opportunity for fun stops at towns, parks, and small attractions that you’d otherwise fly right by.
But being on the road means that you’ll likely be breaking from your normal health routine, which can leave your body feeling sluggish or just slightly off for the duration of the trip.
But do not fear! There’s a number of steps that you can take to keep your body and mind healthy during your next road trip.
Drink plenty of water
It can be easy to forget about staying hydrated while on a road trip. After all, you’re spending most of your time in a cool, air-conditioned vehicle and you probably aren’t moving around much.
But hydration isn’t just necessary when you are exercising; it’s important to drink plenty of water no matter your activity status.
Trips into gas stations offer an endless array of tempting sugary sodas that aren’t the best option when it comes to keeping you properly hydrated.
Try your best to avoid falling into temptation and stick to water. And if you’re in the mood to save money and help the environment, bring your own reusable water bottle and refill it when you stop.
Limit the number of caffeinated drinks that you consume
Not only should you be drinking an adequate amount of water, but you should be limiting the other types of beverages that you consume, especially caffeinated drinks.
Even though they help you stay awake, coffee and energy drinks are often packed full of unwanted calories and sugars. An excess of caffeine acts as a diuretic and can cause dehydration, which you want to avoid.
Plan your meals and buy groceries before you leave
Eating out three times a day for any period of time can cause you to feel sluggish, bloated, and irritable– especially if those meals consist of fatty, greasy fast foods.
It may seem like a lot of work, but planning out your meals ahead of time will likely save you time and hassle when you get on a road. Make room for a small ice chest and bring foods that have been prepared or require little preparation.
On top of being healthier, your wallet will thank you. Buying your own groceries and preparing your own meals is generally a lot cheaper than eating out. And as an added bonus, packing your meal gives you the chance to picnic, and who doesn’t like a nice picnic!
Opt for healthy snacks
Chips, cookies, crackers, oh my! Gas stations are filled with all kinds of mouthwatering goodies that we can snack on behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, they usually aren’t the healthiest choices. If you pick up something on the go, try more health conscious options like beef jerky or trail mix.
While you pack your meals for the trip, you might as well pack a few snacks too. The following are some easy options that are great for munching on the road:
- Baby carrots
- Bell pepper slices and hummus
- Apple slices
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Homemade trail mix (NOTE: A few peanuts in a bag of M&Ms does not count as a healthy trail mix)
- Whole grain crackers, which can be topped with deli meat or cheese
Get out and stretch often and exercise from your seat
Sitting for long periods of time can take a toll on a body. Muscles and joints become stiff and can start to ache. On top of that, staying seated for hours on end can actually lead to more serious conditions like blood clots in the legs.
To avoid all of this, stop and stretch at every opportunity. If you are able, do little sets of an exercise, whether it’s a few jumping jacks or jogging around the gas station perimeter.
But you don’t have to wait until you stop to get in some movement and exercise. While seated, wiggle your fingers, toes, arms, and legs and squeeze your glutes periodically. This will prompt some blood flow in the area.
Rest when you need to
Listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, pull over to a rest area or call it a day and find a place to stay for the night.
Don’t drive if you’re feeling drowsy. This puts you and those around you at risk of an accident. In fact, in 2017, drowsy driving killed 795 people in the United States. Going those few extra miles is simply not worth the risk.
Stimulate the mind with road trip games
Physical health isn’t the only thing that needs attention during a road trip; so does our mental health. Being cooped up in a car for hours can drain our mental energy and make us cranky and irritable.
Road trip games are a fun way to break up the monotony, simulate everyone’s mind, and maybe even get the car to bond a little bit. Some games, like I Spy, encourage alertness, which may be beneficial if the driver finds themselves zoning out behind the wheel.
Car games can be enjoyed by people of all ages and make getting to your destination half the fun of a road trip.
You may feel like you’re indoors, but you can get sunburned while road tripping, especially if you are doing long days in the car.
The windshield may block some of the sun but not enough to keep the intense rays from doing damage. Apply sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher every few hours to ensure you’re protected.
On a similar note, consider investing in a good pair of sunglasses that block UVA, UVB, and HEV rays.
Eyes are sensitive to the sun, and prolonged exposure can cause permanent damage and even some types of eye cancers. Polarized sunnies can also cut out annoying glare, which can make driving safer and more enjoyable.
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