It’s summer vacation road trip season! I’m getting ready to pack my family in the car for a summer road trip. As any mom, or parent for that matter, knows a road trip with a small child can be a nightmare. Kids thrive on schedule, and taking them in a car messes with just about every routine they have. Their meals are timed differently, and their sleep is off. Add that to a tired mommy or daddy, and its a recipe for a rough time. (I may have just talked myself out of this trip we’re about to take.)
In an effort to prevent or reduce the risk of my almost 5 year old having a complete meltdown, I’m planning ahead and bringing some healthy dining options with us. We all know a heavy, greasy, chemical filled meal can make anyone grumpy. I’d prefer not to deal with a grumpy kid when I’m grumpy myself. Ha. So, here are my 5 tips for eating healthy while on a road trip – with or without kids. These tips are good for anyone!
1. Make a re-heatable meal for the days leading up to the trip.
Yesterday I made a huge pot of our Chicken and Red Lentil soup. That way I don’t have to worry about what to cook while I’m prepping and planning for the trip. Having a quick meal will made it a lot easier to cook and pack the healthy food for the trip. We leave tomorrow afternoon, and our suitcases are packed and the food is loaded in bags – all waiting by the door to be loaded in the car! It was so nice to NOT have to cook dinner tonight.
2. Try to book hotels with kitchens.
We will be staying at 2 different hotels on our way down to Florida. I made sure that both of our rooms have kitchenettes. There are so many of those extended stay/suites hotels these days. Many of them are even more affordable than a standard hotel. This allows us to bring food with us. But as our supplies start to get low, we can stop at a grocery store, road side fruit stand, etc. and load up with the confidence that we’ll have a fridge when we get to the hotel.
Of course the kids (and probably husbands too) are going to want to stop for junk food. It’s one of the best parts about a road trip. So, try to have a variety of foods on hand to extinguish any kind of craving. I’m bringing so air popped pop corn, lots of grapes, and other easy to eat fruit, our trail mix, and some fresh made wraps. Also, remember thirst can be disguised as hunger – so always try a sip or two of water first. Plus, staying hydrated is really important when traveling.
4. Allow 1 cheat snack.
Each of us got to pick one guilty pleasure road trip snack to bring with us. My husband and daughter will probably eat theirs right away and then beg for another. But, I’m going to hold strong to the “once it’s gone, you’re out of luck” statement. I’ll let you know how that goes.
5. Give yourself time to stop and eat.
One of the best things about stopping for a burger is getting out and stretching your legs. If you’re bringing your meals with you you can literally just keep going without stopping (aside from potty breaks.) Many of the interstate rest areas have park benches and picnic tables. Some even have grills. Allow a little time to stop and have a meal together, even if its sitting in the car at a rest area.