Military spouses and their families appreciate that travel can be both incredibly rewarding and immensely stressful. And more often than not, one of the first casualties of a busy travel schedule is their own wellness.
My family experienced this firsthand while getting ready for a recent summer vacation. As ardent runners (my son is on his school’s cross-country team), we had every intention of maintaining our tradition of weekend runs during our upcoming stay in New Mexico. The night before we departed, I hastily packed multiple pairs of shorts, shirts, socks and even my trusty GPS watch – only to discover upon arrival that I had left my running shoes in a closet 600 miles away. (My husband and son just rolled their eyes and ran without me.)
With a just a little planning, dedication and creativity, you can make sure that your health and wellness goals don’t get lost the next time you hit the road.
1. Dine Outside the Dine-Thru
In America, “road trips” and “fast food” are virtually synonymous. But you can avoid the burger trap by packing your own healthy, filling snacks and lunches (apples, bananas, trail mix and PBJs are some my family’s favorites). Even better, explore local cuisine options along your route, from organic restaurants and grocers to farmers’ markets (remember to always wash raw veggies and fruits thoroughly).
2. Embrace Impromptu Exercise
If your family is spending long days in the car getting to your destination, it’s important to embrace exercise opportunities whenever and wherever you find them. Add a five-minute walk to lunch or bathroom breaks. Take the hotel stairs whenever they are an option. If your hotel offers a grassy area, toss the football or Frisbee with the kids after packing for the evening.
3. Be Adventurous
With more than 7,000 national and state parks dotting the country, America’s natural beauty is often only a highway exit away. These protected spaces offer countless miles of trails for hiking, biking and burning off a few calories – all in truly breathtaking settings. And best of all, military families can enjoy free access to more than 2,000 recreation areas with a National Parks Annual Pass. To learn more, visit nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm.
Remember, exercise and a healthy diet can reduce stress and ensure you get the most out of your trip.
Healthy Family Travel Tips and Hints
Sweat Where You Stay
Many hotels offer fitness centers with cardio machines and free weights at no charge for guests. But be advised that kids younger than 13 should probably stay out of the weight room, and older ones should always be supervised.
Start the Day Healthy
A healthy breakfast (whole-grain cereals, low-fat milk and fresh fruits) boosts your metabolism and improves your mental acuity. And since some hotels offer complimentary breakfast buffets, your travel budget can stay in shape as well.
Run With Care
If you’re a family of runners, ask your hotel’s front desk staff for safe routes nearby. Don’t run at night and always stick to sidewalks and designated trails.
Dial It Down
The last thing you want is a sprained ankle or pulled muscle while you’re travelling. Remind everyone (and yourself) to take it easy when exercising or trying a new activity.
By packing clothing options that can be layered, your family will be prepared for a wide range of indoor and outdoor temperatures.
Dehydration can lead to headaches, hunger and feelings of sluggishness. Get refillable BPA-free bottles for every family member and fill them with water, not soda, to avoid empty calories.
Keep Those Digits Clean
Experiencing new, unfamiliar destinations means experiencing new, unfamiliar germs. Ensure family members wash their hands frequently, and bring along travel-sized hand sanitizers.