Summer vacations have never exactly been synonymous with routines. At least half of the fun of vacationing is abandoning the same-old for the new and exciting—if only for a week or two, or however long you can manage to get away.
This year, post-quarantine, families are taking to the road, making good on all those pandemic cancellations in swift order.
But as exhilarating as it is to get out there again, whether you’re hitting up a national park or bouncing around Wisconsin’s Driftless region, it’s natural to be concerned about how your wellness routine will be impacted.
Fortunately, with a little planning, you can enjoy the heck out of your summer road trip without letting all your healthy habits get hijacked.
1 .Think Quality Over Quantity
Regardless of where the road leads, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to try the local cuisine, which sometimes means indulging.
Brooklyn-based holistic nutrition counselor Jennifer Schonborn doesn’t recommend depriving yourself of delicious food while traveling. “You want to enjoy the experience, and part of enjoying the experience is trying new foods or eating more decadently than usual. You would never, for instance, want to forgo Mexican food or barbecue in Texas, or gumbo or jambalaya in New Orleans,” Schonborn says.
So go ahead and enjoy that pimento cheese sandwich with a side of housemade chips, but consider whether you also need an appetizer and dessert. And practice common sense: “Heed your hunger and fullness signals, and avoid eating until you feel overstuffed,” Schonborn advises.
2. Find Spare Minutes
Yoga instructor and all-around fitness guru Miriam Wolf understands that travel often means forgoing your typical exercise regimen, but it doesn’t have to mean abandoning it altogether!
In fact, Wolf is a firm believer in doing what you can with what you have. No equipment? No problem. No free hour? Not an issue.
Wolf recommends trying a simple abdominal breathing exercise to strengthen the core, relieve low-back pain, and soothe the nervous system. “The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done sitting, standing, or lying down,” Wolf says.
Here’s how it works: Take a deep breath in through the nose, exhale one third out blowing through the lips, one third out hissing through the mouth, one third out making a shhhhhh sound. The whole time pull your belly button strongly back to the spine. At the bottom of the exhale, hold your breath and continue to pull, pull, pull the belly back to spine. Wolf suggests doing this 8-10 times, after which, if you have a few more minutes, you can move into what Wolf calls the “Squat with twist and punch.”
This exercise, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, “checks all the boxes: low impact cardio, mobilization in the spine via twisting (so yummy after sitting in a car) and strengthening the deep obliques,” explains Wolf.
Avid traveler Jennifer Allford can attest to the benefits of a quick workout. “I’ve become quite adept at doing some yoga on the bed,” Allford says, adding that abs, bridges, planks and other work floor work can actually be done on the bed, so you have no excuse not to hop to when you first wake up.
3. Load up on provisions
If your road trip involves camping, this one is a no-brainer. Along with proteins to grill such as hot dogs, veggie burgers, and sausages, you’ll want to make sure vegetables are on the menu. Schonborn says to try and make a point of including vegetables and/or fruits somewhere in each meal you have while on the road since items from this food group “tend to crowd out some less healthy options.”
Kelsey Ogletree, an Alabama-based writer and editor who likes to travel, has a breakfast tip for the health-conscious: protein oats. Mix these with hot water — “whether that’s from over a campfire or a gas station coffee machine” — add fresh berries and perhaps a portable pack of nut butter, and voila.
If you’re going the hotel route, Ogletree says you can ask to have the mini fridge emptied. Ogletree does this so she can fill it with refrigerated snacks like yogurt, berries, or string cheese.
Chances are, however, you may still gain a couple of pounds while you're away, and Schonborn says this is perfectly normal. She also says the pounds will come off once you’re home and settle back to your normal healthy routine.
4. Bring Your Trainer With You
Self-discipline — along with a good pair of outdoor running shoes — may only get you so far on vacation, but having a personal trainer go along for the ride is a pro move for not skipping workouts.
Thanks to Future, a fitness app that sets members up with a virtual human trainer who designs workouts based on your fitness goals, this is a real — and affordable — option.
“We originally created Future because people need guidance about how to work out consistently in their busy lives, and travel is one of those key times people are away from their daily routines,” says Rishi Mandal, Future co-founder and CEO.
Mandal suggests exercising early, particularly since people tend to have added fatigue when traveling. “If you’re on a road trip, fit your workout in before leaving each morning, which will help keep energy levels up throughout the day. And if you’re in the car for longer periods, there are things you can do while driving or during rest stops,” Rishi adds.
Like core-strengthening abdominal breathing.