Putting in a lot of hours on the road can be taxing on the body and the mind.
Whenever I find myself in a car for extended periods of time, it’s hard for me to feel my best… road trips are cured in that respect. Any form of wellness seems to launch out the door the minute the tires begin to roll along the pavement. I think a lot of the unhealthy snacking and empty thought cycles that tend to happen on the road can be blamed on boredom, but this past trip, I made a point of staying on top of my health, hour by hour, day by day.
Being aware and conscious of staying healthy is an important factor, but here’s a few other ways that helped me feel my best on the long drive from New York to California:
I wasn’t in your normal, everyday vehicle on this trek across the country. For ten days, a U-haul became my home, and my “room” was the passenger seat side of the cabin. Oh man was it tiny. I made the mistake of wearing tight jeans the first day of the trip and just couldn’t get comfortable. It was also freezing all along the first leg of the trip, so taking off my coat was not an option. I found that this poorly affected my posture; the weight of the coat, plus hunching over to stay warm caused my back to start hurting. Try to keep the car at a comfortable temperature so you’re not wearing a bunch of layers the entire time, keeping a coat close by to throw on for road-side stops. Soft pants and cozy sweaters became my on-the-road uniform. It’s also a good idea to wear a pair of shoes that are easy to slip on and off. And remember, the less you pack, the more mobile you are from stop to stop!
We hit a lot of different climates along the way. Starting out in 23 degree weather and ending up in a place that’s 75 and sunny caused my skin to be a little out of whack, so I tried to wear as little makeup as possible. For me, being fresh-faced helps me feel a lot better mentally. Sitting in a truck cabin all day, I found no real reason to get dressed up. Wearing makeup for long periods of time causes my face to break out, so all I ended up wearing was a good moisturizer to help keep my skin feeling soft in the dry weather. I felt so much better at the end of 13 hour driving days without a lot of makeup to wash off.
There’s a freedom about being on the road. It made me want to live as natural as possible, so that’s what I did. Going sans-makeup and hair products for a week helped me feel like I was on a beauty cleanse, and it felt nothing short of amazing.
This one can be difficult, and I definitely fell culprit to a few gas station snacks here and there. Eating on the road can get tricky, because healthy options aren’t always within arm’s reach. But, if you plan it out right, you can avoid the things that are bad for you.
Packing a well-stocked cooler before you leave helps save a lot of money on the road, and allows you to easily snack on healthy things often to keep up your metabolism. Stock up on fruits, such as apples and bananas, and bring along things that are easy to snack on that aren’t too heavy, but leave you feeling energized. I mostly snacked on nuts, and I brought along a jar of almond butter to dip fruits and veggies in. Just make sure the cooler is always at a good temperature so your food doesn’t spoil.
If you do stop at fast chain restaurants or gas stations, look for the better options. Almost all menus have some sort of healthy substitute for the high fat and processed food items. If you don’t see anything listed, just ask. Sometimes there are items that won’t necessarily show up on the menu, but are still available.
Even if it’s just for ten minutes, exercising your limbs is important on long road trips.
I go to the gym about 4- 5 times a week. I need to exercise to keep up a positive mindset, and I was a little concerned before going on this trip that I wouldn’t have the time or opportunity to get in a workout on the road. Eating well and working out go hand-in-hand, and I was fortunate to find ways to do both!
If you’re staying at chain hotels along the way, most of them should have a fitness center. It might not be equipped with a lot, but will definitely provide the means to get in a little sweat. I would wake up a few minutes earlier in the morning to get in a run on the treadmill, even if it was just for 20 minutes, it made me feel so much better during a long day of sitting and driving.
If you have time to explore a little, there’s a great free app called AllTrails that will pull up hiking trails based on your location. You can pick trails depending on their level of difficulty, and you’d be surprised at how many there are not too far off the highway! This is a great option if you have an extra hour or two to spare and need something more than the short walking trails at rest stops.
Most importantly, get some sleep! Drowsy driving is one of the most dangerous situations you can put yourself in. There’s lots of stretches of highway where there won’t be any services for 100 miles +. If you’re feeling tired, find a safe and well lit place to pull over and take a short nap, or find some place to rest your head for the night. It’s not worth the risk just to cover a few extra miles!
+ What other tips do you have for the road? Please share in the comments!