This song comes on every road trip, right? You can hear that guitar strumming in your head as you make one last dash through the house, toss the last few bags in the car, and settle in for the drive as soon as your bum hits the seat. You take a deep breath, turn on your music of choice, and roll out of the neighborhood.
The only problem is, just six blocks down the road you hear from the backseat, “are we there yet?” followed by (a probably whiny), “I’m huuungry.” Whether your road trip is five hours or fifteen, it happens, because food is just part of the adventure.
In my younger days, road trips always meant poor food choices via truck stops and fast food joints. Hopping in the car with an armful of licorice, Doritos, and sparkling juice is how I’d start many a trip across the country. Even though it was fun to eat all that tasty junk, I’d always feel heavy and lethargic once we arrived at our destination.
When I became a mom, I knew I wanted to roadtrip differently to keep my kids from feeling as yucky as I used to. Since you’re reading this, I can bet you want the same! So, without further ado, here are my eight best tips for how to road trip in a healthy way:
1. Two weeks ahead of time, put together a list of non-perishables you’ll need for your stay and for the road trip. It’s always cheaper to have things on hand than it is to grab food on the run. My favorite resource for this is Thrive Market. I place my order ten days before we leave, knowing it takes about six days for my order to arrive. When it comes, I toss all non-perishables into a Rubbermaid bin so the items won’t get squished or broken. Not only do I save money because I’m buying ahead, I also save an additional 25 – 50% by ordering through Thrive. It’s like an online Costco-meets-Whole Foods experience!
Here are some of my favorites:
- Peanut butter
- Beanitos corn-free tortilla chips
- Beef jerky
- Kind bars
- Surf Sweets
- Enjoy Life trail mix
2. If you’re traveling in the summer, hit up a roadside farmstand or market for fresh produce. If it’s wintertime, make sure you pre-purchase easy-to-travel produce items such as apples, dried fruit, oranges or clementines, carrots, celery, snap peas, and bell peppers.
3. Remember to keep a small cutting board and knife with a protective head (like this) tucked in to your food bin. That way, anyone can cut up snacks like apples and cheese at a moment’s notice.
4. Sitting in a confined space for hours on end makes for grumpy passengers, and so do chemically colored, sugar-filled “energy” drinks that claim to balance out your electrolytes. My favorite healthy electrolyte drink is called Ultima. We buy this both in a small tub or single serve packets, making it easy to have flavored water on the go. Additionally, consuming distilled water will keep your toxin intake low. Smart Water is a great brand I find in many gas stations or roadside stops.
5. Planning ahead for stops to move around and grab a quick bite will benefit everyone and keep morale high. Along with your nutritious food, bring a few jump ropes to promote movement and get the wiggles out. You can also take a solo or family walk around the parking lot or roadside rest perimeter. Fresh air, a bit of moving around, and a healthy bite to eat are all great ways to refuel.
6. Keep a roll of paper towels, Thieves hand sanitizer, and a package of non-toxic wipes handy for spills, clean up, or on-the-lap placemats while eating on the road.
7. All your travelers will undoubtedly want something sweet during the trip, so be sure to pack satisfying yet healthy alternatives. Some of my favorite sweet treats include Good Crisps, Surf Sweets gummy worms, Lily’s dark chocolate bars, Skout bars, homemade granola bars, and trail mix.
Here are some additional ideas:
And some of our favorite recipes you can easily take on the go:
- Homemade Gluten-Free Granola
- Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bites
- High-Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
- Peanut Butter Power Bites
- Fig Apricot Grain-Free Granola Bar
- Chocolate Chip Grain-Free Granola Bar
- Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels
8. Last but not least, it is possible to make decent choices while dining out on the road. If you can’t find a restaurant that suits you, find a grocery store! A veggie tray, pound of turkey, pound of sliced cheese, bag of apples, container of hummus, and Simple Mills crackers make for a satisfying and simple charcuterie-like bite. If you do find a restaurant, you can balance your macros with foods like grilled chicken, avocado, and mixed greens. A burger without the bun and a side salad is also simple and delicious.