Healthy Road Trips

By Michelle Donovan, MS, RD, LDN, ACSM-CPT

Why does it seem like sometimes the idea of staying healthy while traveling to vacation can be such a challenge? While summer vacations may be over, fall is a great time for a road trip. So how can we stick to our healthy eating when we’re in the car?

Eating on the go while traveling may make it seem like a drive-thru or gas station convenience store is your only option. However, there are easy, healthy snacks for the car. If you want the snacks to last for a while in the car, try any kind of nut, but try to avoid anything coated. The coatings often add sugar, salt, or calories and can be quite messy. The other thing is to combine the nuts with some dried fruit, a trail mix is good. You can make your own mixes by adding the nuts, dried fruit, small crackers or pretzels of your choice. Believe it or not those squeeze fruit pouches can be convenient and do not need refrigeration or any utensils. They also come in lots of flavors. Along the same line as nuts are packets of nut butter. Several companies make single serve packets of nut butters that can be squeezed straight in the mouth or on a whole grain cracker.

If you are looking for single serve options that you’re going to eat quickly, fruit is always a good option. Apples, pears, plum or other fruits that are self-contained make them easy to eat in the car so you don’t have to worry about peeling. If you can pack a small cooler, include small snack size bags with carrots and celery sticks to have with individual hummus cups. A lot of the portion control snacks can be good to keep in the car; look for baked versions of your favorite chips or bring some popcorn. If you do like crunchy snacks, another good option is the Bean Bada Boom line of snacks that are made from Broad Beans and come in lots of flavors.

Instead of buying meals on the road, with a cooler you can pack a family friendly picnic. There are many rest areas along main highways with picnic tables. If you are not traveling on interstates, search for a public park on your route while you are mapping out the directions. Some of the same foods that pack well for snack pack well for a picnic. Making everyone their favorite sandwich on whole grain bread assures you that everyone has something to eat and you save money. Packing things like hard boiled eggs, string cheese and beef jerky can be easy ways to add protein with less mess. Just peel the hard boiled eggs before you leave. If you want something easy to eat with one hand, consider a wrap. You can wrap your favorite things in a tortilla or just wrap the meat and cheese up together.

Travel does not have to mean fast food or convenience stores. With a little planning and packing, everyone can bring their favorite foods to have a picnic or a snack. Fill up your water bottle and you are all set. Don’t forget the wipes and some hand sanitizer, and you’ll have an easier road trip and save some money to spend on your next road trip!

Michelle Donovan, MS, RD, LDN, ACSM-CPT
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