Tips for Healthy Eating on Road Trips
Heading out on a road trip with family or friends can be so fun! A new adventure can help you create cherished memories, strengthen your relationships, and release some everyday stresses.
When driving along the open road, you'll almost certainly want to indulge in the various speciality cuisines along your route. After all, that’s a big part of enjoying the full experience of the regions you visit. It's nice to know that you can savor the local flavor without giving up healthy eating.
Use these road trip rules to enjoy the best of both worlds:
1. Plan stops ahead of time. One of the most foolproof ways to maintain healthy eating habits when on a road trip is to plan food stops ahead of time. Advance planning will enable you and your traveling companions to eat at the opportune meal times, choose healthy options, and avoid getting cravings with every restaurant sign you drive past! This helps you to identify the can't-miss restaurants in each area, and you'll be able to choose which are "worth it" and which aren't!
Use a map to plot out your stops, and then research the available eating options in each location. That way, you’ll have control over what you eat. You can find good locally-owned restaurants with a variety of regional dishes to choose from.
We love to use a combination of Yelp, Open Table and Google Reviews to find the best places in each locale.
2. Pack healthy snacks. Even with planning meal stops and eating on schedule, you’re bound to get the urge to snack when you’re on a road trip. Take along plenty of healthy snacks to satisfy your temptation to nibble as you take in the area sights
Fruits like apples, bananas, grapes and berries are convenient, healthy, and not messy while you're trying to drive.
Pita chips or baby carrots and celery with salsa or hummus are perfect because they're both healthy and easy to eat while you’re driving. They also hold up well with just a few small ice packs in a portable cooler.
(These ice packs are awesome if you are traveling by air! They do not contain any gel, so you can pack them empty, and then fill with water and freeze once you reach your destination!)
3. Time your final pit stop for each day. Make your last meal stop close to dinner time, but also close to your rest stop for that night. That way, you won’t end up getting hungry when you finally settle in.
Once again, using your map will allow you to determine the best food stop closest to your night’s rest stop.
Plan to eat your heavier meal at lunch and then choose a last stop for the day that has menus with lighter, healthier options.
4. Order group meals. Ordering for the group as opposed to individual meals will allow you to control your portions easier. You won’t be as tempted to clean a large plate of food to avoid wasting. Group servings are usually just enough for the number of diners.
Eating as a group can also help you to gauge exactly what you’re consuming while on the road. This may be especially helpful if you have kids. Group choices make it easier to keep track of what they're eating as well, so their experience isn't limited to the same old kids' meals throughout your trip. Search for "family style" options if you're looking for restaurants online!
5. Use Grocery Stores. The nice thing about driving to your destination is that you have the ability to take a break at any point! Plan to stop at a grocery store to stock up on some of the healthy snacks mentioned before, or pick up other items that you can have as a meal while on the go.
Many grocery stores now offer pre-cut and peeled fruits and vegetables, and even provide disposable cutlery! (or pack your own travel set.) Other foods that travel well and are easy to pack are clementines and other easy-to-peel citrus fruits, nectarines and plums which you can enjoy without peeling (try to at least wipe them down on the outside with a wet cloth, even if you purchased organic)
Great protein choices for traveling are greek yogurt, string cheese, pre-cooked chicken, low sodium lunch meats (often sold pre-sliced in the deli section so it's fresh) hummus, single-serve cottage cheese.
Check out the prepared foods section, which many stores are bringing back! They often have full salad bars with many healthy options, hearty soups, pre-cooked proteins, hard boiled eggs, etc. This can be much more time- and budget-friendly than eating at restaurants during the whole trip! (Opt to get any dressings on the side, and any leftovers can store for longer)
Does the open road beckon you? With these road trip tips, you’ll enjoy the experience of visiting different locations and tasting their cuisines, and head back home without losing any progress!
Let me know where you end up next!
- Looking for more tips about how to stay true to your wellness goals while on vacation? Check out this other post, Staying True to Myself and My Goals While on Vacation!