Something y’all probably don’t know about me is that I love a good road trip. From our family’s annual trips to the beaches of South Carolina each summer to trips with my sorority sisters in college to Sea Side, Panama City, and, the doozey, Key Largo.
Now that I live in Texas, I’ve made the trek from Tennessee to Texas three times in the past five years. Yeah, it’s a whopper of a trip, but it’s kinda fun.
Usually, I make this traverse with my partner in crime, Mister HHT, who also loves a good road trip. He had to make the drive from Dallas to Greenville, SC a few times a year going to and fro our alma mater, Furman University.
This time, though, I have a new driving companion.
As someone approaching parenthood, I’m already learning the sacrifices I will be making for the sake of my son…and my mother, y’all, she is a prime example and model of this selfless love.
Case in point: she hopped in a 10-foot U-Haul with her favorite daughter and drove halfway across the country to transport baby supplies, dining room chairs, and other life necessities.
With all of that said, we’ve championed through 527 miles of the total 870 miles from Knoxville to Corsicana, spending last night in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
You better believe I have some advice for y’all about how to keep healthy and happy on these longer road trips. There are certainly some strategies I always use to stay on track physically and mentally when spending 7+ hours in the car. Saddle up gang!
If you live in Texas, you are definitely accustomed to spending hours on end in the car. Just to get from one major city to another can be half a day in the car when it comes to getting from Dallas to San Antonio or Fort Worth to Houston.
In my four and a half years of living in the great country of Texas, Mister HHT and I have burned up the road to College Station, San Antonio, Austin, Big Bend National Park, Denver (not in Texas, I’m aware), and about 1,000 trips back and forth to Dallas from Corsicana.
In order to keep your sanity and not fall victim to unhealthy travel traps (i.e.- fast food, sugary caffeinated drinks, gas station junk, sit sit sitting), I’ve got a slew of strategies and shortcuts to keep you in gear as you hit the road over these next few weeks.
1. Hydration Station
Fill up that Nalgene, Swell, or Turvis tumbler with H2O! It’s cheap, won’t go flat, and you can refill wherever you stop. Keeping yourself hydrated will keep you more alert while driving and will help you not feel as susceptible to junk food cravings. Plus, staying hydrated will improve circulation, which is important if you’re sitting for over four hours. Double important is you are preggo and sitting for so long! No one wants swollen boat feet, calf cramps, and restless legs.
2. Embrace Elastic
Before I was even pregnant, I’ve embraced wearing something cute but comfortable while road tripping. I strive for a balance between looking like I’m heading to the gym and I’m heading out to dinner. I don’t want to look like a ragamuffin but I don’t want to be dress up, either. Even on those early bird road trips, I throw on a little tinted moisturizer, mascara, and eyeliner. I like sticking with leggings and plain fitted t-shirts and pullovers so I can sit in a variety of positions and get in some stretching during those everso crucial bathroom breaks.
3. Cool It!
If you have a spare square foot or two, pack a cooler! Mine usually has some baby carrots and celery sticks, a grassfed yogurt or two, guacamole cups, apples, baked sweet potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and some form or fashion of leftover meat. That way, when it’s lunchtime and the rest of my travel companions demand Wendy’s, I’ve got plenty of meal options right in my cooler.
4. Are You Not Entertained?!
No matter your age, we all need to bring toys to help us pass the hours in the car. I’ve found if I get bored in the car, my mind translates that boredom into ‘I’m hungry’ signals, thus spurring an unneeded trail mix binge. Maybe you don’t get boredom munchies, but I know I’m guilty of them. Having my laptop for blogging, magazines, and other ‘busy’ work like thank you note writing, paper grading, and, heck, adult coloring books helps me keep those boredom hunger signals at bay! I’ll sometimes load movies on my ipad or even read a chapter book if we’re driving straight enough.
5. Snack Pack
As your resident paleo pregnant lady, I can’t speak more highly of having healthy snacks on your person at all times. In addition to #4, I have an entire bag of room temperature snacks for my snack-enthusiast mother and me. From gluten-free crackers to Boom Chicka popcorn to clementines and coconut chips, I’ve got a little variety pack of snacks to suit whatever craving may come my way on the road. Not only is it healthier, but it’s cheaper to! The snacks in convenience stores are always marked up people! Just bring your own.
6. Get Your Butt Movin’
On day 1 of our Tennessee to Texas trek, we stopped every two hours for a bathroom break (third trimester necessity, y’all) and to switch drivers. During those ten minute breaks, I would always do a few squats, lunges, and generic running stretches to get the blood flowing. When we stopped for lunch yesterday and my mom sat down to devour her Roast Beef and Cheddar, I stood and stretched the entire time in the middle of the Arby’s. No shame here.
7. Fast Food Can Be Your Friend
Not all fast food is unhealthy. At 90% of the places you stop, you can get some form or fashion of a salad. The greens will not be organic, the tomatoes will not be local, but it will provide your body with more servings of vegetables than, let’s say, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. If a salad isn’t your thing, just order a burger or grilled chicken sandwich and toss the bun. I’ve done that plenty of times, and I promise you that you won’t offend the people working there. If you really want fries (no judgment), split them with your travel companions. If you want a frosty, get the junior. Be smart.
8. Healthier Gas Station Goodies
While they’re not exactly cheaper than what you would pick up at your grocery store, they do exist! You just need to take a few minutes to look around…stumble on over to the refrigerated section and you could find hard-boiled eggs, hummus cups, Greek yogurt, and salami/cheese packs. In the snack area, you can always find jerky, nuts, protein bars (watch the sugar on those), and possibly a cleaner chip such as Pop Chips. By the checkout, there’s almost always a few apples, bananas, and oranges. No, they’re not organic. They’re not honeycrisp, but they’re better than that bag of Doritos or corndog. When it comes to liquids, you can often find coconut water, sparkling waters, unsweetened iced teas, and other lightly sweetened waters (again, check the sugar content). Here’s a few things I found at a random Marathon station in Crossville, TN yesterday morning.
Wherever you’re heading to this week or MLK weekend or even spring break in a few months, hopefully you can pack away a few of these tips the next time you hit the road! Just promise me you won’t eat a gas station burrito. For the love of everything holy, just don’t do it.
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!