With fresh summer air and an open road ahead, there's a sense of freedom in beginning a road trip. One key to a memorable journey is preparation, allowing you to focus on making memories and not on any bumps along the way.
Here are tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to keep your summer trip healthy and happy.
Fuel up. You filled up the gas tank, now fuel up your family with healthy snacks. Don't rely on junk food scavenged along the way. Pack healthy and shelf-stable options such as trail mix, raisins, cereal, whole-grain crackers, single-serve containers of apple sauce and fresh fruit. Use an insulated cooler with perishables, such as carrot sticks, low-fat yogurt or deli sandwiches. Insulate the cooler with plenty of ice. You can even freeze water bottles ahead of time to help keep food cold, then enjoy them later as they begin to thaw.
Keep it safe. Even the best-planned road trip can be ruined by food poisoning, so don't let perishable foods sit unrefrigerated for more than two hours, or more than one hour in weather 90°F or above. If it is hot outside, try to keep the cooler in the back seat of your car rather than the scorching trunk. And, most importantly, wash your hands with soap and water frequently and especially before handling or eating food. Pack moist towelettes or hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available.
Enjoy the trip. When traveling for long periods of time, hip flexors, lower back, shoulders and neck can tense up, so take time to stretch them. Get out of the car and stretch, or even take a short walk. While it might slow down your travel time, taking frequent breaks will keep you rested and alert as you continue your trip. If the road runs along a national park, consider a short walk in the woods to enjoy the view and give your eyes a rest from the road.
Remember, vacations are about the journey, so prepare, and you'll enjoy every minute of it. For more ideas on eating healthfully this summer and beyond, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area.