It may not be for everyone, but my family loves a fun road trip. Of course, keeping it fun isn’t always easy. Sometimes we get bored or let’s just say “less than nice” along the way. When restlessness rises it’s easy to turn to snacks to fill the void. Before long, our eating can go downhill quickly. Keep your snacking on track with these tips and a menu designed to get you to your “nutrition” destination.
What to Eat
What to Pack
Think about the length of your road trip and how many snacks your family would usually have in that time frame. Pack remaining snacks out of reach. Consider balance and bring along cut (or small) fruit, sliced vegetables, low-calorie snacks (like natural popcorn), cheese sticks, protein-rich granola bars, and other healthful snacks. If motion sickness strikes from time to time, pack ginger snaps or another ginger snack.
What to Drink
Recognizing that it may lead to an extra stop or two, it’s important to remain hydrated on a long road trip. Water and flavored seltzer are good choices, as well as individual servings of low-fat milk.
How to Snack
The bottom line is that just because you are stuck in the car doesn’t mean you also need to be stuck in a cycle of snacking. Use the clock to note when your last snack was before turning to your next. Keep in mind that our bodies can trick us into thinking we’re hungry when we’re bored, tired, anxious, restless or the like.
How to Dine
One of the best things my family has done on recent road trips is to change up the way we approach meals. We began picnicking so that we can be outside and move around a bit (as well as control what we eat because we pack it from home). When that doesn’t work out, we seek (quick!) restaurants that also have open lawn and outside dining, so the kids can run around and we all get fresh air and a chance to move.
What to Do
How to Distract
We turn to snacks when we’re bored and restless. One way to avoid this is to feel less bored (especially when you’re the passenger). Try distracting yourself with activities.
Clean out your contacts list: When do you ever have time to clear out/clean up your cell phone contacts? Sitting in a car for hours is the perfect time to get this done (do this for just a few minutes at a time to reduce dizziness and give eyes relief).
Bring a map: Yup, the paper kind. Your youngest travelers will enjoy marking it up and seeing where you’re going. It will also give them a measure of your progress when they get to fold another section! Note: You may need to order or look for this ahead of time. Maps are harder to find than they once were.
Clean the car: Pack some wipes! You’ve been meaning to wipe down the car and get that sticky stuff out of the cup holder. Why not use your several hours in the car to finally get that done? If your back-seat passengers are old enough to help, pass some cleaning wipes back to them too.
What to Listen To
Tired of listening to kid’s music or wishing your children were engaging in something other than Fortnite on the road? Bring on the podcasts to fill time and entertain. There are many podcasts available for kids and families. You can visit iTunes , Google Play, or follow one of the links below to find a variety of podcasts appropriate for young children and up.
- Parents.com: 11 Podcasts Your Child Should be Listening To
- Common Sense Media: 20 Podcasts for Kids
- NPR Podcasts: Kids & Family
- Stitcher.com: Stories Podcast- A Free Children’s Story Podcast for Bedtime, Car Rides & Kids of all Ages
- Good Night Stories for the Rebel Girls: A Fairy Tale Podcast About the Women who Inspire Us (A favorite in my home!)
How to Stay Mindful
If the car ride gets to feeling long (or loud) it’s time for a moment of zen in place of a moment of snacking. When you’re making your packing list, add these items to create your “car spa” that’s ready when you need it:
Essential oils: Lavender for calming and relieving headaches, cinnamon leaf to reduce muscle tension, orange oil to lessen stress, peppermint to uplift and make you more alert. There are a variety of essential oils to help you endure (and enjoy) your road trip.
Apps that calm: Take a moment to mediate in the car. When the road trip seems never ending or the “natives” get restless, turn to one of the many apps designed to bring calm, lower stress, and improve mood.
Tea: Pack along your favorite soothing tea to sip when the stress rises. Tea is also perfect for remaining hydrated and having something to turn to in place of yet, another snack. Double-walled bottles or vacuum flasks will keep your tea at the perfect temperature for hours.