August is slowly coming to an end. For many, this time of year signifies back to school time and the end of summer. You might consider one last family activity before school starts, such as a road trip! It does not matter if you travel within a few hours of your home or across the country, a road trip is a great way to spend quality time together as a family, share new experiences and create lasting memories.
“Happiness is a way of travel, not a destination” – Roy M. Goodman
It is often said that travel is not about the destination, but the journey itself. This is why it is important to prepare well for your road trip in order to create an unforgettable experience. From the food you pack to the activities you choose, here are some ways to ensure your family road trip is not only fun, but mindful to your body.
Healthy Road Trip
Make sure to have some delicious and nutrient-packed snacks ready for the journey. Having snacks prepared beforehand will help avoid any low blood sugar issues that can lead to unfriendly, hunger-based moodiness—especially in children. While it is helpful to have snacks available, the type of snacks you prepare is just as important. Ditch the chips and other junk foods that are high in sodium and sugar offering little nutrition. Instead, opt for snacks that are high in protein, contain complex carbohydrates- instead of refined- and are rich in nutrients. Homemade granola bars, trail mixes, cut up veggies with homemade dips, and kale chips are all fantastic options that will keep your family satisfied and fueled! The protein, fiber and nutrients will keep blood sugar levels regulated, preventing any spikes or crashes, which can cause hyperactivity, irritability, restlessness, headaches and fatigue. All things you would want to avoid on a long car ride with no escape!
Hydration & Planned Restroom Stops
Many people make the mistake of limiting water intake to avoid constantly stopping for restroom breaks. However, remaining hydrated—especially if you are traveling in the heat for long periods of time—should be one of your top priorities when planning your trip. The key with drinking water is to sip it consistently, rather than chugging large amounts in a short period of time. This can help avoid dehydration and thirst. To avoid unnecessary stress, you should schedule bathroom stops at regular intervals during the road trip—especially if you have younger children. While children may not have the “urge” to use the bathroom, sometimes simply having a bathroom break is enough to encourage your child to use the facilities. Therefore giving you peace of mind until the next scheduled stop. It will also encourage everyone—including you, to remain hydrated knowing the next bathroom break is coming up.
Being Two Steps Ahead
All family members have their own specific interests and needs. Plan ahead to take into account factors that could potentially lessen a family member’s enjoyment during the ride. Motion sickness and insomnia are examples to consider. Stay two steps ahead and bring some ginger-based supplements for treating nausea or magnesium-infused water to help promote a restful sleep during overnight trips.
During your regularly scheduled stops, it is always a good idea to get some fresh air and stretch your body. Doing this often will lessen the overall strain of a long car ride avoiding any long-term aches or pains. There are many quick and easy options for stretching out your legs, arms, neck, and most importantly, your back. The entire family can do some stretches solo while waiting your turn for the restroom. You can also make it a family activity before returning to the car.
Women’s Health Magazine created this lovely infographic for travel via plane. However, it is befitting for road tripping as well.
Road Trip Ideas
Now that you have your basic necessities covered, it is also important to plan ahead with some activities for the road trip. Instead of becoming the ‘road trip’ DJ, prepare play lists that will make everyone happy beforehand. You should also have a list of games to play in the car that are engaging and interactive enough to keep interest levels high. Some creative options include “Initial Answers” or “Guess the Object”.
Talking to Locals
Whether it is when you are stopping for a stretch, having a meal in a restaurant or simply asking for directions, make an effort to meet new people in the places you visit. You may learn there is a local delicacy you simply must try or a scenic nature walk you had not heard of before that would be perfect for your family.
Bring along a camera and a journal to document your adventures. Encourage your kids to write down their impressions, things they learned, as well as any favorite moments during the road trip. Once you return home, print a few photos and gather a few journal remarks for scrap booking! Whether you need a little inspiration for a future trip or just find yourself missing the pre-back to school days, your scrap book will be the closest thing to reliving the experience!
A road trip is quality time spent with your loved ones that will create plenty of new experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. By creating a checklist using the above suggestions, no matter where your final destination takes you, you are making sure your adventure begins the moment you step out of your door!
Where does your family like to road trip?
Lena Tashjian is a freelance writer and nutritionist based in both Canada and Armenia. She writes about nutrition, health, fitness, food, recipes, culture and travel. You can follow her by visiting her nutrition and travel blog.
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