Whether you’re a full-time student or you haven’t taken a final since the last century, you might be feeling that familiar summer vacation itch—once June hits, just about everyone seems to be feeling ready to skip town and let loose. Rather than fight the urge, why not hit the road?
Road trips can be quick, convenient, and totally fulfilling. In fact, according to MMGY Global, one of the country’s largest travel and hospitality marketing firms, road trips accounted for about 22 percent of vacations taken by United States travelers in 2015, and 39 percent the following year. Thanks to the flexibility of the stop-and-go mode of travel and the elimination of all that airport hassle, vacationers love exploring all of America’s awesomeness from behind the wheel.
But if you’ve been spending the rest of the year trying to stay healthy, camping out in your car for eight-or-so hours a day during a summer road trip may not sound like a great lifestyle choice. The good news is, there are super simple ways you can prepare for a more active, wholesome, all-around healthy vacation on wheels. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Pack snacks. Obviously, great food is one of the key features of a solid road trip, but as you probably guessed, most gas station snacks aren’t exactly nutrient-dense. Rather than filling the front seat with bags of chips and candy bars, pack a cooler with good-for-you treats like fruit, carrots, yogurt, string cheese, and more. Trail mix, raw nuts, and granola are all great options too, but you may want to portion them out ahead of time to avoid accidentally consuming a day’s worth of calories in a single stretch of highway.
- Sip between stops. It’s easy to forget to hydrate when you’re belting your heart out to cheesy pop songs (a road trip must), but it’s crucial to keep a bottle of H20 handy at all times. Reusable, BPA-free bottles are your best bet, and you can add some ice to keep things cool. You definitely don’t want to let dehydration set in since it can zap your energy—not a good thing when you’re operating heavy machinery (or ever, really).
- Move your body. Just because you’re sitting most of the day doesn’t mean you have to be totally sedentary. Make it a point to schedule in stops several times a day, and get some steps in before you get back in the car. Also be sure to stretch your hip flexors, shoulders, and neck, since these areas are likely to get tight and tense after a long day of driving.
- Slather on the SPF. A classic mistake drivers make is forgoing the sunscreen. Just because you’re technically not outside, the sun’s rays are still beating down on your exposed skin. Be sure to apply SPF generously, and reapply every few hours.
- Never, ever (ever) use your phone while driving. This should go without saying, but texting, Tweeting, checking the map, changing the music, etc. should not be happening while you’re behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,450 lives in 2016 alone If you have a co-pilot or pals in the backseat, have them keep your phone out of your sight and keep their own use to a minimum. Enjoy the open road, and leave the phone for later.
Feeling inspired yet? Pick a perfect destination and start driving! And if you need an insurer that has your back, hit up Metromile: visit metromile.com/insurance to learn more and get a quick quote. Happy trails!
Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.