9 ways to keep your family healthy on a road trip

We are just a few days out from our long cross-country road trip as part of a big move, and preparing for this has left me worrying that by the end of it we are going to be drowning in fast food and sugar. To try to prevent this, I’ve come up with a list of a few things that might help keep you and your family healthy when you are going to be away from home for days or weeks at a time.

1. Stock good snacks—This might seem obvious, but it’s so easy to just grab M&Ms or Doritos when you are at the gas station filling up. Before you set off, bring some pre-portioned snacks that you can fall back on. Some ideas include single serving packets of peanut or almond butter, whole grain crackers, or applesauce. Find your favorite healthy snacks.

2. Take advantage of continental breakfasts—If you are staying at hotels along the way that have a continental breakfast included, this can be a wonderful way to get some fresh foods for later in the day. Take an apple or banana along with you since they travel well, or use some bread to make a peanut butter sandwich for later (if you brought it).

3. Bring along an insulated lunch bag and storage containers—That way you can store what you’ve made in tip #2. This can also be a nice way to keep restaurant leftovers fresh and may help you save some money on your trip!

4. Don’t assume you have to eat fast food—Sometimes in the middle of nowhere there are no other options, but that’s why planning ahead can help you avoid these food deserts. is a great website that can help you locate local, non-chain restaurants that may have more options than McDonald’s. Anyway you do it, planning can help you stay out of the drive-thru and get access to some better quality meals.

5. But if you do have to eat fast food, find some healthy options—You might just have to settle for the quick stuff sometimes, but know that doesn’t mean all hope has to go out the window. Try to go for healthier choices, like having your child get milk and apple slices with his Happy Meal instead of a sugary soda and fries.

6. Work up a sweat—Yes, you may be spending a good part of your day in the car, but try to make your stops count. Find a hike that everyone can do, and get your heart rate up. Or plan to do some exercise before bed at night, and make your kids keep you accountable for it. Even just playing a game of tag at a rest area counts!

7. Indulge a bit, but don’t go overboard—Vacation is supposed to be fun, but if you find yourself using the excuse, “I can eat this because I am on vacation!” at every meal, then you might be overdoing it. Enjoy treats here and there but don’t go crazy, otherwise you’ll feel sluggish and wish you hadn’t.

8. Carry a water bottle—Another small step, but doing so (and filling it with water!) can help you resist the temptation to get a soda or other sugary beverage at every meal or stop.

9. Make it a game—Kids love games and competition. Make it a game to see who can eat the most colors of the rainbow (obviously they must come from real foods like fruits or veggies, not Skittles!).

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Medical Director, Pregnancy

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician at a tertiary-care hospital in northeastern Pennsylvania. She spends the majority of her time on labor and delivery, but manages to fit in some outpatient clinic and operating time.


  1. We are planning to drive to Texas for Christmas which will take us two days so I am already starting to prepare. I know we will definitely have an ice chest so we aren’t just eating junk along the way and I plan to load up on games, crayons and movies. I will plan to research fast food restaurants and their locations along on our route so we aren’t limited to just the junk such as McDonalds.

  2. We do several road trips a year and there are times that I pack our lunch before and keep it in a small cooler. It saves us time and is much healthier than the options we pass along the way. I let my girls bring a few small toys and we make sure to make enough stops so that they can release some energy.


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