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?

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Helpful items for your next flight or road trip

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