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It’s that time of the year again – time to start gearing up for those amazing summer road trips. Nothing says freedom like an open stretch of road in front of you, your bestie by your side and loud music blaring through the speakers. There’s a reason why Jack Kerouac fell in love with the road.
However, road-tripping usually leads to making food and activity choices that you wouldn’t normally make on a day-to day basis. Don’t worry, though. Below is your guide to the essentials you need to maintain your healthy lifestyle while you travel – without really making any huge sacrifices.
1. Snack Smart
This is probably your biggest key to not straying too far from your normal, healthy food choices. Utilize the space you have in the car by packing a cooler with easy-to-eat and yummy snacks. Try individual yogurt cups, fresh fruit – oranges and apples travel well – string cheese and some precut veggies – carrot and celery sticks, cucumbers and broccoli are great choices – with hummus.
For some dry snacks that hit both your sweet tooth and satisfy your savory cravings, pack some trail mix with dried fruit and mixed nuts, granola bars, kale chips or homemade jerky.
2. Stay Hydrated
Avoid sugary beverages like sodas or heavy, creamy drinks – yes, that includes Starbucks iced lattes. They may taste especially amazing out on the open road, but they’re chock full of empty calories and will quickly dehydrate you. Stick with ice-cold H2O and keep a reusable water bottle with you to refill each time you stop. This way, you’ll never go thirsty.
3. Schedule in Stops to Stretch
Don’t try to drive too far in one day. Your back, legs, shoulders and neck will easily become stiff and tense while in the car. The Automobile Association recommends that you stop for 15-minute breaks every two hours or so, and you shouldn’t exceed eight driving hours in one day. Use this time wisely and do some stretches during each break to avoid cramped muscles.
4. Pack the Sunscreen
If you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time – even in the car – be sure to put on that sunscreen to protect your skin. Look for types that have at least SPF 30, and if applying oily products on your face makes you nervous, consider purchasing some sunscreen made specifically for that area.
5. Don’t Forget Your Shades
Speaking of sun, no road trip attire is complete without your beloved sunglasses. On top of being stylish while you drive, you’ll also be protecting your eyes from overexposure to the sun. However, you won’t be doing your eyes any good if you don’t look for some high-quality glasses. You’ll want ones that protect from UVA, UVB and HEV light, so make sure to read the labels.
6. Throw the Yoga Mat in the Trunk
Being out on the road doesn’t mean you are completely devoid of gym options. You can use your yoga mat just about anywhere you stop and create your own routine. Bring along your sneaks, athletic clothes, some resistance bands and a simple interval timer on your smartphone and – voila! Your breaks have turned into a mini-workout opportunity. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in 15 minutes, and your waistline will thank you at the end of your trip.
7. Be Comfortable
This might seems like a no-brainer when it comes to being in the car for hours, but remember that tight, uncomfortable clothing can cut off circulation during your drive. Choose clothes that stretch, breath and don’t chafe your skin. If you know you have poor circulation, look into buying some compression sock or pants to help out with the lengthy periods of sitting.
8. Make Healthy Mealtime Choices
You’ve got all your snacks covered, but you also need to be conscious when it comes to meal choices. You may not be able to pack every meal in your cooler, and eating out always has some hidden calories somewhere. Your best bet is to avoid all fast food drive-thrus and gas station convenience stores. You won’t find anything that isn’t overly processed.
Instead, look for local eateries when you stop. Chances are they locally source a lot of their products, and you’re bound to find grilled items and green salads on the menu. Also, keep the sauce on the side, and if you can request they make it light on the butter, go for it. There is always a way to find a healthy and tasty option to satisfy your rumbling tummy.
9. Keep a Flexible Schedule
Nothing hampers your light-hearted mood like a strict travel schedule. If you keep your road time loose and a bit spontaneous, you’ll be able to stop whenever you want – like when you see a beautiful waterfall or that quirky world’s largest ball of yarn – without causing any arguments or unwanted stress. Relaxation is key to maintaining a healthy life balance. You shouldn’t have those kinds of worries on a vacation.
10. Don’t Drive Drowsy
If you become tired and you’ve been driving for less than two hours, it’s still OK to stop. Remember your schedule isn’t something you have to stick to, so stop and don’t endanger yourself. Drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 deaths a year. Pull over and take a short nap, switch drivers and be smart. Your destination will still be there the next day.
There you have it: All the information you need to make your next road trip a fun, healthy and successful one. Boy, it sure seems summer can’t get here fast enough, now can it?