Are you gettin’ ready to hit the road and take a family trip? One of our favorite summer traditions is the over-the-river and through-the-woods To Grandmother’s House We Go Road Trip. We just got back from a girls week: my two daughters and I met up with my mom and went south to Six Flags Magic Mountain and then made a big circle through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Yosemite National Park. Now, THAT was an experience. As my mom put new grip grooves in the steering wheel and tried not to look at the sheer drop off on the guardrail-less side of the road, my 7-year-old daughter said just what Grandma needed to hear: “Look, the road turns and then disappears.” Aaaaahhhhhhh!!!! Indeed it did!
When the nervous laughter subsided and we finally arrived safely at our hotel on the Nevada side, we had time to reflect on all that had happened during our adventure – and we came up with these 7 Healthy Do’s and Don’ts for Summer Road Trips.
1. DO dress for comfort. When travelling, especially with children, there will likely be several stops for bathroom breaks and leg stretches. Have those easy-on-and-off shoes handy, and wear loose clothing that breathes and moves comfortably. Nothing worse than wearing tight jeans that leave zipper marks in your belly after 8 hours in the car! If you have long hair, have a hair tie nearby to pull it up when it gets annoying. Also remember the sunglasses so you can enjoy the scenery without squinting.
2. DON’T eat junk food. The temptation is to stock up on red vines and potato chips or simply stop by fast food restaurants to fill the void while on the road. However, a little planning will help your digestive system comfort and your waistline. Pack a sandwich, grapes, healthy crackers, apples and other easy-to-eat nutritious snacks and munchies. And don’t forget the bottled water – it’s great to have a lid to put on to avoid spills in the seats. (Recycle when you get to your destination!)
3. DO Stop and walk. Unless you have a serious deadline to be somewhere (see #5 in a moment), make it okay to stop and get out to enjoy the view when the mood or location strikes you. The canyon between Nevada and California has a beautiful river, so we stopped and put our feet in the water and took some pictures of the girls playing. Stretching the muscles and getting fresh air helps relieve the feeling of confinement of a long car ride.
4. DON’T let road rage get to you. It is inevitable that over a couple thousand miles of driving, you will encounter some slow pokes who block the lane or speed demons who think YOU are blocking the lane. You can choose to let them bug you or you can LAUGH and go around or let them by, whatever the case may be. It’s not worth it to let a stranger ruin the fun of your trip.
5. DO plan extra time. If it takes eight hours to drive, and you need to be there at 8pm, don’t leave at noon. It is another inevitability that between point A and point B, there WILL be delays, so give yourself some wiggle room with the arrival hour. We encountered road work delays with one-lane-at-a-time pilot cars not once, but TWICE! On the way into Yosemite, we encountered a wildfire and had to sit in the car for an hour and a half while bomber planes dropped fire retardant just 20 yards from the road (and our rental car!) PLUS, it always takes longer than you think it will at rest stops for potty breaks. Reduce your stress by being flexible with your travel time.
6. DON’T zone out. A couple hundred miles in, it’s easy for the initial departure excitement to get old and if you’re passing through desert flat lands, it can get boring. Time to get the family involved and play some “mind games” to keep you alert. One of our favorites is called “George Washington.” There’s really no “winner” because you just take turns saying the name of a famous person whose first initial of their first name is the same as the first letter of the previous character’s last name. That is: 1. George Washington; 2. Walter Cronkite; 3. Carol Burnett; 4. Burt Reynolds. Get it? Got it! Good!
7. DO enjoy the journey. The destination is exciting but getting there is a major part of the fun. It’s not often you get to spend a quantity of quality time in the same place at the same time. Take advantage of that undivided attention with family (or friends) and get to know new things about each other. We heard some interesting stories about my mom’s childhood as we went by where she grew up, and she experienced my daughters’ hilarious personalities. It’s all about making memories.
Soooo, on your next road trip, keep these tips in mind and print out this handy Healthy Road Trip Checklist to make sure you have everything you need for a safe and fun adventure. Just watch out for those disappearing turns on mountain roads!