When traveling by car, you’ve already spent a lot of time planning your trip. We all want to make good time, but it’s also important to schedule several breaks into your itinerary, especially if you have children.

  • Pack a cooler full of healthy snacks, and even complete meals. Chopped veggies, fresh fruits, bottled water and juice, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn and pretzels make easy travel fare.
  • Don’t skip meals, and try not to go more than 4 or 5 hours without eating.
  • Pull over and go into the restaurant. Avoid eating full meals in the car. Take time to stop, relax and enjoy your meal.
  • Plan exercise and stretching breaks as well along the way. Let the kids out to run around.  Take some deep breathes. You’ll be more alert when you get back in the car.
  • Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks. While they do give you a short energy burst, the drop when caffeine wears off can make you even more tired. For stable energy levels, drink plenty of water and eat healthy, whole foods that keep blood sugar levels from spiking and dropping.
  • Be wary of fast food and roadside restaurants! If you have no other options, choose the healthiest possible items and keep portion sizes small. Order kids meals.
  • When checking in, find a nearby health food store or grocery and stock up on healthy snacks. If your room/floor has a fridge or microwave, take advantage of that. If a coffee maker is all you get, buy instant soups or oatmeal and prepare them with the hot water. (be sure to grab the low-sodium variety!)
  • Before leaving home, find out what fitness opportunities the hotel offers. While most will have a pool, others may offer tennis, walking paths, bike rentals and full gyms. Then, pack the appropriate clothes, shoes and gear.
  • Ask the concierge about healthy restaurants, markets, parks, trails and maps.
  • Design your own hotel room workout. All you need to pack is some lightweight, cheap equipment: resistance bands, a jump rope and a sticky mat. Most bands will come with illustrated exercises. You can also do push-ups, crunches, lunges, squats and triceps dips on a chair.
  • Remember to pack walking shoes, a swimsuit, exercise equipment and loose, comfortable clothing.

It’s worth the time it takes to plan ahead for a healthy trip. Remember, vacation (like exercise) should be fun! Try new things, sight see on foot, go rock climbing or surfing, and definitely enjoy the good food without total deprivation. Being heart healthy is a lifestyle. These tips will assure you return home with plenty of memories and souvenirs, without packing on extra pounds.


Karen Wiggins, LPN, HWC


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