Healthy Road Trip Habits

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

For those of you who haven’t met me, I’m originally from Greater Boston and currently live in Atlanta, GA. They are 1000 miles apart, making it a short plane ride or a very long drive. Due to COVID-19 and my long winter break during Graduate school, I decided to make the drive from Thanksgiving until New Years. I got a negative COVID test to keep my family safe.

This was my longest road trip ever. I saw most of the East coast via the highway and some fun stops along the way. I also learned a lot about how to stay sharp, energized, and happy. I view this as a subtopic of health promotion since more and more people are choosing to road trip instead of flying during the pandemic. I think it is a really fun and interesting way to travel. It is also really important to be prepared along the way in order to prevent fatigue, aches and pains, dehydration, etc.

What works for me:

Take your time (unless it’s an emergency)- obviously go the speed limit, but what I mean is, take the occasional back road. Stop and eat at an outdoor dining restaurant or stop at a scenic viewpoint. Don’t limit yourself to just point A and point B, this is a unique opportunity to explore new states and cities on your own watch.

Plan safe, fun, and active stops along your route- take a walk or bike ride if safe and accessible. Do some stretching, or just stand and enjoy the break.Maybe even take a scenic route to access different views and walking paths in the middle

Buy a cooler and pack in advance: doesn’t have to be perfect but it will be a huge difference in how you feel during and after the trip. Snacks I like to pack include:

  • Tons of water

  • Single serving trail mixes with nuts and dried fruit

  • Popcorn

  • Sandwiches

  • Apples

  • Grapes

  • Baby carrots

  • Cucumbers

  • Chocolate

Wear layers and sunglasses, maybe even sunscreen: if you are in the car for that long, you may be exposed to a lot of extra sunlight. This is something I sometimes struggle to remind myself, but it is good to prepare for in advance.

Bring cleaning supplies and extra masks so you feel safe in public spaces

What doesn’t work for me:

Eating heavy, greasy food: I do indulge from time to time, but a long road trip is not a good idea for me to be eating fried foods. They make me tired and not feeling my best. Wait to enjoy those for when you are at your destination or a special occasion.

Overdoing the caffeine: This can make me jittery and dehydrated. I love my cup of coffee in the morning and will avoid having too much after that. Try to focus on getting a good amount of sleep and staying hydrated with water.

Powering through the drive for too long: I need my breaks. I have learned that about myself. It makes me a better driver and happier person. Being drowsy at the wheel is very dangerous and important to avoid. I drove up to Boston with my Dad, and it can be very valuable and fun to have a friend or family member in the car with you. It makes the drive much more manageable and enjoyable. If you have to do it alone, I would recommend adding an extra day to the trip. On my way back to Atlanta, I was alone and did the trip in 3 days instead of 2.

Tips on what to look for at rest stops and hotel to keep yourself safe in times of COVID-19:

Call before booking and ask to confirm their cleaning protocols and any other concerns you have about food, elevators, etc.

Pick a hotel or BnB that is near either outdoor dining or has space in the room to eat your takeout meals comfortably.

So what cities did I see along the way?

  • Charlotte, NC (awesome outdoor dining in the Sugar Creek area)

  • Richmond, VA

  • We stopped in Newark, Delaware for lunch. I am a UD alum and my 5 year reunion got cancelled due to COVID, so this was very fun. #BlueHensForever

  • Alexandria, VA

  • Raleigh, NC

Have you taken a long road trip before? Comment below or email me to share your stories and any tips you have for others making their first long car ride a bit more fun and low-stress!