Family Wellness Travel: A Healthy Guide to Road Trips with your Family

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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 Trips
Healthy Road Trips Lizzard / Pixabay

Healthy Road Trip

Snacks

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!


Real vegetable chipsFruit & Veggie ShredzPeter Rabbit Organics



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.

Stretching

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.

Stretching When Traveling
Stretching When Traveling Source: Women’s Health Mag

Road Trip Ideas

Activities

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.

Scrapbook your road trip
Scrapbook your road tripSh1ra / Pixabay

Documenting

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.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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22 Comments
  1. I love roadtrips! Great tips, especially the stretching. It’s so easy to forget things like that, but it really makes a different. I find it particularly hard to find stretches that can be done inside the car.

    1. Inside the car, I am a fan of the ankle roll. Spelling my name by rolling my ankle. 8 letters, but it helps get the blood flowing. We also try not to be in the car so long stretching within the vehicle becomes necessary.

  2. This year hubby must have thought I was crazy. We went from Detroit Michigan to Indianapolis and then upto our cottage 2hrs north of where we live all over the 4th of July weekend. We only stayed in Indy for 1 night. We planned our trip around our 1 year old schedule, in hopes her naps and meals would align with checkpoints in our trip.
    amy recently posted…Go Mama Go Designs – Wonder Bumpers Crib RailsMy Profile

    1. Sounds like you had the planning and managing expectations down. Kudos to you. Especially with a 1-year old. It’s hard to be strapped into those car seats. We traveled via motor coach when our kids were that young to give them a little more freedom.

  3. I have had all of the healthy snacks and drinks featured here, and they are really good and satisfying – ideal for travel. Hydration is also very important, if you are dehydrated – you can feel tired, weak, get headaches, and more. We have made endless road trips from Upstate NY to the state of Michigan…we used to live there, and we go there at least 2-3 times a year to visit my stepson.
    Yona Williams recently posted…8 Quirky, Novelty Gift Ideas for Coffee LoversMy Profile

  4. My family loves stopping along the route of the road trip at quaint little restaurants to try new food. Plus, when we travel a road trip on a regular basis, we always stop at certain favorite places. We also always stop regularly for everyone to stretch, grab a snack, and go to the restroom. With my kids, I do not want to be in a stretch of road where there is no bathroom in sight, lol.
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  5. I can just see someone on the side of the road doing those stretches. LOL Great post. Snacks are essential! I just went on a road trip last month and we packed snacks and lunch bags and it was great. Not only did we save money on food, but we didn’t have to stop off to try to find a place to eat just to be surprised by less than delicious food.

  6. These are wonderful tips. Snacks are very important, especially if you are traveling with kids. This will keep them quiet for a while. Gadgets are important, too. Stretching before and during the trip sounds like a great idea. I should try that.

    1. Stretching is important to prevent stiffness, potential of clotting and a host of other things we tend to push to the back of our minds. Minding your body at all times. Just a quick, fun way to do so on a road trip. Thank you for stopping by.

  7. These are great tips! With how much we travel it can be hard to stay in shape and keep in check with a healthy lifestyle! I love those work outs they are perfect for when traveling.

  8. When my son was young we went to places with good science museums (he is science oriented) where he could be physically active. I think his favorite vacation was only 3 or so hours from our house, where we took a white water rafting trip. He loved it!
    Alana recently posted…Women’s Equality DayMy Profile

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