On Nutrition

For most of us, summer means travel. While the idea of “healthy travels” may have a different tenor this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of the principles remain the same. Namely, how can we treat our bodies well so we feel good and have the energy to really enjoy our trip? Right now, road trips are the healthiest option, in part because most airlines aren’t consistently enforcing measures that would help prevent the spread of coronavirus. The good news is that road trips also offer certain advantages for eating well.

My go-to advice for eating healthfully while traveling is to focus on including a protein-rich food at all meals, including a respectable amount of veggies at lunch and dinner, and keeping portion sizes moderate. This can be easier to accomplish when you aren’t relying on restaurant meals. Whether you’re traveling for a day, a weekend, or a week, eating meals and snacks you’ve prepared saves time and money while letting you minimize contact with strangers.

Taking a day trip? It’s easy to meet 100% of your food needs with an insulated tote or a small cooler, kept cool with frozen gel packs. If you’ll be at your destination for several days, renting an apartment, condominium or house gives you more food options. Even in a small, minimally appointed apartment kitchen, you can quickly turn out simple, satisfying, nutritious meals. Treat each day like a day trip, packing lunch and snacks in your tote or cooler so you can enjoy a picnic.

Make a loose meal plan so you can minimize restock trips to the grocery store, or make good use of any farmers markets near your destination. Farmers markets are always a fun, hyperlocal way to food shop while traveling, but the fact that they allow you to shop outdoors offers an added safety bonus this year.

Managing hunger can be tricky while traveling — especially if you’re traveling with companions who have a different eating schedule. If you’re a definite three-meals-plus-snacks person, and your travel mates prefer to eat just two big meals, it can be challenging to reach a satisfactory compromise. Toting your own healthy snacks offers a safety net, and if you want to skip energy bars, make a batch of tasty trail mix. A good ratio is one part nuts or seeds, one part dried fruit, and one part “extras,” such as miniature pretzels, whole grain cereal or popcorn.

So that’s the food. What about fitness?

You probably know that sitting for hours on end isn’t good for you, and that’s equally true whether you’re sitting at a desk, on your couch or in a car. Aim to stop for a brief movement break — do a few stretches or simply walk around a bit — at least every 90 minutes. Exercise on the road might look very different than it does at home, and that’s OK. You’ll likely be doing more walking, whether on hiking trails or city streets, and bike rentals are a fun option in many places — or bring your own if you have a bike rack for your vehicle. Hotel gyms are a no-go right now, but you can safely do yoga and body-weight resistance exercises such as squats, lunges and pushups in your hotel room or rental. You might also invest in a set of resistance bands, which take up little room in a suitcase. Have fun, and stay safe!