Five Tips for Planning a Healthier Road Trip
There's nothing like a good road trip! It's the perfect opportunity to explore new places and have unexpected adventures. However, being in a car all day can be hard on your body. Here are five simple strategies for a healthier journey.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is important for good health in general, and it’s even more so when you need to stay alert on the road. Start packing well before the trip so you don’t stay up late trying to finish everything the night before you leave. Try not to change your sleep schedule too drastically during the trip; there’s no law saying you have to get up with the sun or party half the night because you’re on vacation. If you get sleepy while driving, find a safe place to pull over so you can wake yourself up or even take a catnap. If the bulk of your trip will be spent camping or crashing on a friend’s couch, consider booking a night or two in a hotel such as the Marriott Providence to refresh yourself before the long drive back home.
Driving may not build up a sweat like exercising does, but you still shouldn't let yourself get dehydrated. Bring plenty of water with you and be sure you're drinking it throughout the day. (Some highway rest stops have free water fountains made specifically for refilling reusable bottles.) If you get bored with plain water, try the sparkling variety or add some fresh mint leaves or fruit juice. If you need to buy something en route, cut down on calories by checking labels and avoiding sugary soft drinks and juices.
Pack Healthy Meals
While fast food makes for a fun indulgence, eating it three meals a day isn’t ideal for your health, even when you’re on a road trip. Luckily, it’s easy to pack healthy picnics in a travel-size cooler. Think beyond sandwiches; a collection of nibbles such as fresh fruit, raw vegetables, hummus, pickles, whole-grain crackers, and nuts or high-quality cheese and cold meats provides variety and is both tasty and nutrient-packed. If you're buying food along the way, take an extra moment to read nutrition labels and check the refrigerated case for fresh options. Finally, bring a reasonable amount of your favorite treat so you don't impulse-buy a jumbo pack of junk food before you're even halfway through the trip.
Schedule Stretch Breaks
You’ve probably heard by now that sitting still for long periods isn’t great for your health, so plan to take regular breaks. Stopping every 30 minutes isn’t realistic for a road trip, but aim for at least every two hours in addition to meal or gas stops. If you aren’t already familiar with some basic stretches, there’s a wealth of guides and videos available online that you can browse before the trip begins. You can also jog in place while pumping gas or walk across the parking lot a few times – just keep an eye out for cars! If you’re traveling with others, bring a Frisbee so you can take advantage of rest-stop green areas.
Wear Sun Protection
No doubt you already realize how useful sunglasses are when driving, but did you know that a typical car’s windows won’t completely block the sun’s UV rays? Even if you don’t sunburn easily, exposure to UV rays can increase your long-term risk of skin damage and skin cancer. If you don't like wearing sunscreen, consider long-sleeved UV-resistant clothing instead, or even a UV-resistant film you can apply to your car windows.
With a little planning and preparation, a road trip doesn't have to be unhealthy. Go see the sights and enjoy the ride!