It’s road trip season! Eating and living well can make your vacation more enjoyable, especially if you’re sensitive to food additives or environmental chemicals.
Summer is upon us, and that means many of us are planning summer vacations or road trips with our families. For some people, packing yummy junk food snacks like potato chips, pretzel sticks, candy bars, and soda works just fine. But, your vacation doesn’t have to take you off the path of good health.
If you’re anything like me, failing to take care of your body can increase pain and inflammation, and have a negative impact on your mood as well. If you want to feel your best while on the road, check out the tips below.
1. Eat well and keep it simple.
Keeping your body and mind well-fed can make your vacation experience even better.
- Plan ahead and bring salads in jars, veggie sticks and dip, fruit (fresh and dried), organic lunch meat and beef sticks, Larabars or a homemade version (made with nuts and dates — no added sugar!), healthy trail mix (look for low-sugar, no-candy options), homemade paleo muffins, mixed nuts, high quality dark chocolate, homemade non-GMO popcorn, and kombucha or iced tea sweetened with honey for refreshing, healthy beverages.
- If you need to pick groceries up as you go, even gas stations have some decent options. No need to rush to the junk food aisle. Nuts, seeds, hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, fruit, granola bars or beef jerky with relatively decent ingredients — gas station food doesn’t have to be devoid of nutrition, even if it’s not especially fresh or organic.
- Otherwise, look for regional grocery stores (larger chains are likely to carry organic produce and affordable healthier snacks), local health food stores, or farmer’s markets. The website Local Harvest can point you in the direction of local farmer’s markets and other interesting options.
Staying hydrated can keep you feeling good despite hours being cramped in a car. Save old glass juice jars to fill halfway with water or homemade iced tea, freeze, then fill the rest when you hit the road. Use honey or coconut crystals to sweeten your tea; avoid sugar, including soda and juice. Bring lots of clean water, but don’t drink water from a plastic bottle that has been sitting in the warm car. This is a documented carcinogenic. Use glass instead, and pack a cooler.
3. Carseat safety.
One important aspect of staying safe and healthy on a road trip is carseat safety for kids. Adults should always use seat belts, and we owe it to our kids to use their carseats correctly, to keep them as safe as possible. Car accidents are a significant risk to children, and proper carseat usage can make all the difference. Research has shown that most parents are using carseats incorrectly — triple check that yours are properly installed.
Read the manual, and ask a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician if needed. This Ultimate Carseat Safety Guide is a great resource — you might be surprised to learn about the most common mistakes.
4. Stretch and move.
Movement on a road trip might seem like a tall order, but you can stretch and move both in and outside the car. Start your morning off right by doing this easy 15-minute morning yoga routine. Then, whenever you stop at a rest stop, make sure to do some stretching. Repeat some of the stretches you learned in the yoga routine. When you’re stuck in the car, keep your posture in mind.
Try to sit up straight, and bring a pillow along for back support. If you get stuck in traffic or at a stop light, take that time to reverse the damage from hunching over the steering wheel. Place your hands on your lap, palms up. Sit up tall and press the back of your head against the headrest, promoting good posture. Squeeze your shoulder blades together behind your back while your hands remain in your lap. Hold this posture as long as you can. Repeat the yoga morning sequence at night to ensure a comfortable drive the next day.
5. Detox your hotel or Airbnb.
Those of us with chemical sensitivities are aware of how tough it can be to adapt to a new hotel or Airbnb-type living situation, no matter how temporary. I’d rather be sleeping outdoors than be stuck in a hotel full of chemical cleaners and air fresheners! Consider bringing some essential oils known for their air cleansing properties. Such oils include lavender, lime, wintergreen, thyme, rosemary, tea tree, sweet orange, and ginger.
If you have a diffuser, even better! If not, simply open the hotel windows to let fresh air in, and sprinkle some oils into the corner of the room. Bring a fan with to keep air flowing. You may or may not want to avoid enclosed pools that have excess chlorine. Home 2 Suites is a hotel chain which uses sustainable practices and saline pools.
6. Bring a soul-inspiring book (or article or podcast).
Do you have a book, article, or podcast you’ve been meaning to get to? A road trip or vacation is the perfect time to uplift your mood and revitalize your life. Bonus points if it’s inspirational or geared towards health and wellness. Nourish your body and mind this summer!