Tips for a Healthy Road Trip & Family Vacation

Have you ever come home from vacation nearly 10-pounds heavier than you were before you left? Did you give yourself the “I’m on Vacation” approval to eat anything at anytime? I’ve been there and done that. Ate gluttonously for weeks, then returned home with little motivation to eat better and exercise. Now my daily diet isn’t about losing weight and looking pretty, it’s about being well. Over five years ago, on my first real vacation after I started eating clean, I challenged myself to enjoy my vacation while maintaining my healthy lifestyle. I also gave some thought on how to help my family indulge, just not excessively.

It seemed like a rough first step for a former sugaraholic to eat clean while visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania. At every turn I saw chocolate: at the park, the resorts, the local businesses … Even the spa, pool and many activities were centered around sweets. Because I used to be drawn in by candy-decked desserts, I thought it would be hard. But like many other habit-changing exercises, I just set an intension not to eat sugar and succeeded. So, I deserve a (chocolate) medal, right?

Even without dessert, there were plenty of temptations to over-eat. I just gave myself one meal daily to not over think it. I still, however, politely told every server about my food intolerances: no dairy, meat or soy. Sometimes, it was just easier to tell them I had a food sensitivity. Some people claim cancer grows from these foods. I’m not sure if I believe it, but stay clear of these items like an allergy, just to be safe.

For my family, I found that ordering veggies or fruit with every meal worked well. My son was motivated to try some, knowing that afterward a big s’mores sandwich was waiting. I also packed a number of snacks that kept him satisfied during the day. So if he begged for an extra chocolate milk or Hershey’s Kiss, I was ok with it knowing he ate wholesome food earlier.

Last, but certainly not least, I focused on how we could be active. There are many ways to incorporate fitness into a vacation. At our first rest stop, my then 5-year old and I practiced yoga poses. It might have embarrassed my husband, but it helped stretch out our bodies after hours of car time. We also swam daily at the resort pool, walked around the park, hiked in the woods, visited the fitness center and ran up and down the stairs many times. I wouldn’t say we deserve high fitness accolades, but staying active kept us from feeling sluggish.

For those that travel by plane, our latest WTNH-TV Wellness Wednesday segment showcased not only how we stay healthy when we travel by car but also by plane.

Below are some other health tips we found useful on our road trip resort vacation.

20 Tips for a Healthy Road Trip & Family Vacation

20 Tips for a Healthy Road Trip & Family Vacation


1. Pack healthy items like bagged apple slices, dehydrated fruit or vegetables (kale, raisins, goji-berries), healthy bars (Larabars, Orgain Kids O Bar), Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal bowls, roasted dehydrated beans (The Good Bean has many flavors) and Suzie’s rice cakes.

2. Pack water and healthy meal replacement shakes (Orgain Vegan Shakes are my favorite.) These are filling, hydrating and a quick fix, rather than running for a big bag of chips.

3. Pack dehydrated veggie powder like Amazing Grass’ Organic Wheat Grass whole food drink powder. Adding this to water is a solid juice substitution. They also sell individual serving packets.

4. Check out the restaurant menus before arriving. Manage the temptations to overindulge by selecting healthy alternatives prior to the meal.

5. Bring lots of games for the car, so not to focus on the snacks: new coloring books, video games and iTunes playlists can fill hours.

At Meals:

6. If you plan on indulging at dinner, eat lighter meals for breakfast and lunch.

7. Order a side of veggies or fruit at every meal to assure healthy items are consumed to balance the big meals.

8. Tell the server of potential allergies including a food intolerance or special diet need.

9. When ordering, substitute avocado or olives for cheese.

10. When ordering, substitute balsamic vinegar and oil for dressings.

11. When ordering, stay away from soups and sauces, if concerned about salt, sugar or fat intake.

12. Skip the bread before dinner.

13. Drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage.

Be Active:

14. Always wear comfortable shoes. Take advantage of road stops for a quick relay race, yoga session or cross training exercises. Make it a competition with your family.

15. Take walks each night.

16. Seek out trails to go on a hike.

17. Explore what the hotel/resort has to offer in terms of courts, fields and sports equipment.

18. Swim in the pool.

19. Use the steps often rather than the elevators.

20. Schedule time before the busy day begins (or when others are eating breakfast) to exercise at the fitness center or go for a run/power walk.

What are your favorite healthy tips while traveling? Here are some of my favorite road trip items. What are yours?

If you like this post and want other clean living tips, please share and follow me on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest

Helpful items for your next flight or road trip

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  1. I love your active tips…this is really helpful!

    • Caryn Sullivan

      Thanks. I’m finding one of the wonderful perks about blogging is that it keeps me honest with myself. I enjoy and often think about health and wellness opportunities daily for me and my family. I, of course, am far from perfect at it…but at least I try hard and I’m having a lot of fun with it, too.

  2. I used to take a bunch of road trips with my mom when I was in college because we would drive 8 hours to get to my college and back home during long breaks like XMAS vacation and SUMMER break… Whenever we did, we would always stock up at WHOLE FOODS first! ;) That always made the ride a bit more enjoyable, ahha!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…GUEST POST: How I Became Empowered By My “History”

    • Yay. I love Whole Foods for all aspects of my life. Like you and your mom, we shop there before a road trip, too. WF just makes you want to eat clean. I love how they showcase yummy wholesome treats. It makes eating clean a lot less boring. I’m proud that you ate well in college. We drove 13 hours to my university and I’m pretty sure I fueled myself with Diet Sunkists and beef jerky. ICK! Boy how things have changed for me since then…

  3. These are great tips! I love how practical they are. It’s nice to have healthy options while also knowing that you can indulge a bit every now and then.
    Lauren recently posted…Back to School Resource List

    • Thanks. I’m glad you like the tips. It’s not hard for me to eat clean, it just becomes challenging when I’m focusing on my husband and child, too. These snacks are favorites with them, as well. I like finding substitutions so that everyone can feel like they are indulging, but just not as full of chemicals or the icky stuff. Happy end of the summer. I hope that you and your family are doing well. Many of my friends and neighbors journey up to your neck of the woods in August, though I’ve only been over the border from NH to Maine once. Maybe someday. xoxo

  4. Heck yes you deserve a chocolate medal! I am not sure I would be so strong. I do really love your tips, because going on vacation is challenging enough, especially once there are children involved. A solid plan is always best :)

    • Can you imagine, though, if I really won a chocolate medal…the smell of Hershey’s would be radiating around my every move. Although, maybe it could be made with coconut cacao butter and it would be healthy and yummy!

  5. Awesome tips as always, and I need this as we are road tripping it from ATL to Gatlinburg tomorrow! And yes, NO BREAD….EVER!!
    Kristen recently posted…How Losing My Job Was Exactly What I Needed

    • I find it easier to just tell myself that sweets are off limits. I then don’t negotiate with myself when I can and cannot have them. You know you will feel soooooo much better without the bread. I know it’s hard. Good luck and have some fun with the family in Gatlinburg.

  6. What great tips! I often gain weight on vacation and I do give myself leave to eat what I want. I do try to stay active while on vacation though. I suppose that’s something. ;-)
    Elizabeth (Rock-A-Bye Parents) recently posted…10 Ways To Save On Walt Disney World Dining Costs

    • That’s definitely something and you should give yourself credit for staying active on vaca. It’s easy to stop being active and sit by the pool with drinks all day. Hopefully you can use a few of these tips and then eat healthy some of the time. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

  7. Caryn, these are fabulous tips!

    I always feel like I throw my health out the window when I take a trip. I eat poorly, I lounge around, and I don’t drink nearly as much water.

    I’ll definitely put some of these to use – like packing the veggie drink powder! Brilliant!

    Thanks for sharing.
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…Why I’ll Break My Daughter’s Heart Over and Over Again

  8. Wow, Hershey, PA without chocolate? I can’t imagine, although my dad worked for M&M Mars when I was a kid so Hershey was the enemy! So I wasn’t allowed to go there anyway! (my grandparents took me, actually)
    We are about to take our third road trip of the summer. Planning ahead with water and healthy snacks is so key. I have to try Orgain. My friend is a brand ambassador for them and loves them.
    Tamara recently posted…Vacation All I Ever Wanted.

    • Wow. Did your grandparents get in trouble for taking you to Hershey? I have to say that I did love Hershey Park. While I’m a huge Disney fan (and worked for the company for many years), the parks are really overwhelming, whereas Hershey is not. Good luck on your vacation. I do love Orgain. I don’t drink it regularly, but when I travel they are great.

      • Nah, my dad knew it was all in good fun! My friends also took me for my 25th birthday. A Jolly Rancher danced with me!
        I really loved it there.
        Tamara recently posted…Vacation All I Ever Wanted.

        • I love it. I hope you got a photo! My son has a peanut allergy, so we took a photo with a reece’s peanut butter cup character and he had his thumbs down. It was cute. Happy weekend.

  9. Love these! and I alwayssss bring green powder on vacation too because I KNOW I won’t be eating the typical amount of veggies I would at home :)

    Sarah Grace
    Sarah Grace recently posted…Leg Day Workout + What I Ate in a Day

    • Isn’t it great when a vacation spot surprises you and they have cold pressed juices or whole food smoothies. I know, it doesn’t always happen, so that is why I like the powder or even finding a Whole Foods nearby.

  10. Soooooo…. I don’t think we’ll be on any long road trips anytime soon. Our last one was long and dangerous, but hey, we’re alive! I’ve talked about our road trips on my blog before, and we always pack healthy snacks, water, and food we can make easily in the car. When we got into our accident this summer we had to leave all of our coolers with our healthy snacks/drinks in the totaled truck. I have to remember we need another cooler.

    • I thought I sent you a note back…I’m so sorry about everything. I know you embrace wellness, so it sounds like you had a good plan but obviously things had to change. A cooler is key, though sometimes I really just grab ice packs and throw them in freezer bags. Or better yet, freeze items like yogurt tubes, smoothies and grapes and then they taste ok a few hours later.

  11. Great tips! I’ve started meal prepping in general and stocking my desk at work with healthy snacks. No roads trips yet, but my long car rides always just consist of a black iced coffee from Starbucks

    • Love it. Sounds like you try and keep you life pretty healthy. I’ve actually had Starbucks make me my own smoothies before. If they have fresh fruit on hand, I just ask for some kind of vegan milk with blueberries and bananas. They usually have all these ingredients. And, they are pretty good too.

  12. Swimming in the pool is my favorite way to stay active on vacation :)
    Akaleistar recently posted…Most Popular Book Reviews

  13. Nice article …..Guys always carry a water bottle with every where its a very useful tip for you
    priyadarshini recently posted…BENEFITS OF DRINKING MINERAL WATER

  14. Healthy fitness is common issue in this present time. Maximum people can’t control their body fit after the age of 30. I have seen your effective 10 tips to keep our body fit all time. We are trying to physical exercise but don’t know what should be the perfect rule and routine. Chat with Darren Leukefeld to get more effective tips.

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