Tips And Tricks for Staying SANE On The Road

Since my little road trip adventure to California last month I’ve had a lot of requests for my tips and tricks to staying *SANE on the road.  The key to success for a *SANE road trip is to prepare.  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Oh, and attention to detail.  I realize that #1 and #2 (below) may seem like a lot, and could feel overwhelming at first – especially if you are used to jumping in the car, taking off, and just getting what you need as you go.  Bear in mind that a little time getting prepared will hugely benefit you in terms of money, time and particularly health in the long run.  Once you’ve done your first road trip in this new way, it will not seem overwhelming the next time.  You’ll be ready.

1. Before you go.

Stock the car with enough SANE food and SANE beverages to keep everyone going until 2 hours after you reach your destination.  As I always road-trip alone, and need to be able to eat without assistance, my preferred snacks are beef jerky, hardboiled eggs, whole-leaf lettuces (I pull whole leaves off and munch), and cucumbers (I eat them like apples).  The beef jerky and hardboiled eggs keep my energy super-high and stave off drowsiness.  The lettuces and cucumbers give me all the non-starchy veggies I need, keep me full, and help to keep me hydrated; they also give me jaw ache from all the chewing, which is great because then I don’t want to eat for a while.  I am a driving machine on this  fuel!  I keep the perishable food in a small cooler that I pack and refrigerate over night.  Before I leave I add a couple of ice packs.  This keeps everything cool enough for a 12 – 15 hour drive, bearing in mind that most of it will be eaten by the time I arrive.

Snacks to consider:

  • Jerky – beef, turkey, salmon – whatever your favorites are.  Buy jerky with the highest protein and lowest sugar content you can find.  Be especially careful of “flavored” jerky such as teriyaki or barbecue, as they are often very high in added sugars.  Read the label and compare until you find the best brand in your area.  Once you’ve found the best brands, stick to them.
  • Sardines / canned tuna – these are so easy to eat on the road.  Peel back the lid and dig in with a fork!  No refrigeration required.
  • Hardboiled eggs – shell before you leave and pack in Ziploc bags.
  • Raw veggies cut into bite sized pieces – carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, snap peas, lettuce leaves, small cauliflower and broccoli florets, etc.  Bring small containers of *SANE dips to keep your taste buds excited.
  • Nuts and seeds – mix your favorites into small Ziploc baggies.  Add a few dried fruits – cranberries, raisins, dried blueberries, etc to keep it interesting and add a touch of sweetness.
  • Hot “cereal” – if you have flasks of hot water with you, take small, lidded containers with this hot cereal mix in it and mix up with hot water at a rest stop.  It’s really nice to have something warm to eat on the road, especially if you’re traveling in winter.
  • Protein bars – make them, or stock up on these and these brands before you head out, if you don’t already keep a stash on hand at home.
  • *SANE muffins, biscuits, and cookies.  These are much more filling than their inSANE counterparts, so will really help to stave off “the munchies” on the road.  They will not make the driver drowsy like inSANE sugar-and-starch-filled snacks.
  • Yogurt – mix up some of this, or buy small pots of Greek non-fat yogurt.
  • Fresh berries (de-stalk and cut any strawberries), and citrus fruit segments packed in small Ziploc baggies.

** Remember if you are driving in the US and crossing state lines (such as California) you may not be allowed to transport certain foods.  Check before you leave.  You don’t want to have half your food confiscated at the border!

For drinks I take fresh water and several flasks of hot herbal or green tea.  A good flask stays hot for 24 hours.  I refill my drinking cup from the flask when I stop to use the bathroom.

Beverage tips:

  • If you like sparkling and/or flavored water, buy large / 2 litre bottles from the grocery store and refill drinking cups as you go.  This will save you a fortune on cans or individual bottles.  If you do choose to buy cans or individual bottles, make sure to buy enough for the trip from the grocery store before you go so you don’t need to buy them from gas stations where they are staggeringly expensive.
  • Take several large (and by large I mean gallon / 5 litre) containers of non-sparkling water, even if you don’t intend to drink it.  If you get stranded, the road you are traveling on is closed due to weather or an accident and you are stuck for hours, you run out of washer fluid, someone becomes ill, you mis-judged how many beverages were needed for the trip, or any number of other unexpected events, having a lot of water on hand will be a godsend.
  • Remember to drink regularly, even though you are essentially inactive during the drive.  It will also help curb any hunger that is really boredom.

2. Other things that will make eating SANE on the road easier and more fun.

  • Disposable cutlery, or reusable plastic cutlery if you are able to wash it en route / when you arrive.
  • Disposable plates, or reusable plastic plates if you are able to wash them en route / when you arrive.
  • A roll of paper towel or plenty of paper napkins.
  • Wet wipes.  Never leave home without lots of wet wipes.  Wet wipes are truly a road tripper’s very best friend – for more reasons than I can even think of.
  • Plenty of several sizes of Ziploc bags.  Use them for trash, storing dirty plastic cutlery, food scraps or leftovers, or any number of other messy things that would otherwise make travel icky.
  • Scissors.  So useful for so many things.
  • A small, sharp knife.  These are brilliant for road trips as they come with their own cover to protect them (and you) when not being used.
  • Flossers.  Especially if you are eating jerky, and especially if you are the driver – these flossers will save you hours of misery.
  • Travel-size bottles of mouthwash.  Is there anything worse than having a mouth like a sewer when you’re trapped in a car for hours on end with a bunch of other people?  Especially if one of them just downed a can of sardines or tuna.
  • Small coolers and ice packs will keep perishable food cold enough to remain fresh and appealing.
  • ALWAYS take a Ziploc bag of xylitol – or whatever sweetener you use – with you.  I never leave home without xylitol in my bag.  Ever.

3. Avoid being derailed en route.

Your biggest enemy to *SANEity on a road trip is…The Gas Station.  If you enter the building, the chances of you being derailed are enormous.  For many people road trips = fun times filled with a dizzying array of sugary and starchy snacks, candies, chips, and pop / soda that you might not normally consume.  This means that road trips are often tied to intense {good} emotions based on family vacations experienced during childhood, and can be very hard to break.  It does not help that 98% of food and beverages available at gas stations fall into the sugary and starchy snacks, candies, chips, and pop / soda categories.  If you are faced with them in the middle of a road trip, you may find yourself powerless to resist.

Here’s how to survive with your SANEity intact:

  1. Be very clear on the difference between a gas station and a rest stop, and do not get confused about what to do at each.
  2. Stop at rest stops to use the bathroom, refill drink cups, stretch your legs, eat SANE snacks that you prepared before you left home, refill washer fluid, paint your toenails (you wouldn’t believe the number of rest stops I have painted my toenails at), check your cell phone for messages / emails, swap drivers, take photos, and otherwise re-group for the next leg of your journey.
  3. ONLY stop at gas stations to get gas.  They have no other SANE purpose.  Use a credit or debit card to pay for gas at the pump.  Do not enter the building!
  4. If you were not paying attention to #2 above, and did not use the bathroom at the last rest stop, and you really, really need to use if at the gas station, leave your wallet locked in your car.
  5. If you were not paying attention to #4 above, and took your wallet into the gas station when you went to use the bathroom, do not stop walking until you get to the bathroom.  Once you leave the bathroom do not stop walking until you get back to your car.
  6. If you were not paying attention to #5 above, and stopped walking between your car and the gas station bathroom, pick up only non-food items or *SANE foods and beverages.
  7. If you were not paying attention to #6 above, and purchased *inSANE items at the gas station, dump them in the garbage on your way back to your car.

 4. Once you arrive.

Depending on the itinerary at your destination, these will help you keep on a SANE track:

  • Clean and re-pack your plastic plates and cutlery, or restock disposables ready for the next day’s adventures.
  • If you are staying in a hotel, refuse the key for the mini bar and bring your own bottled water and snacks into your room.  Not only will you save your SANEity, you’ll save a fortune.  The first thing I do when I arrive at a hotel is ask where the nearest grocery store is and go get large bottles of water and SANE snacks.  Hotel stays can completely wreak your health and your wallet if you let them!
  • If you did not or were not able to bring enough SANE foods for your entire trip, stop at a grocery store every morning to stock up on SANE supplies before you do anything else – 2 litre bottles of water, nuts, seeds, protein bars, cut veggies, berries and citrus fruits, hardboiled eggs, jerky, canned fish, individual Greek yogurt, deli meats, etc.
  • When you are in the grocery store, stay on the perimeter – always remember that the middle is where the inSANITY is.
  • If you have children with you, do not take them in the store with you unless there is no other adult to stay with them in the car.
  • Only stop at gas stations for gas.  Never go in the building.  See #3 above.
  • If you eat out, choose SANEly.  Swap out starches for salad or an extra serving of non-starchy veggies.  I have never had a restaurant refuse to do this, and at no extra charge.  Just ask.
  • Be too full for dessert.
  • If you are planing on mainly eating out, still keep sufficient SANE snacks in the car so that you avoid getting hungry between meals.  If something unexpected happens and you can’t get to your next meal on time, your SANE snacks will tide you over.  Breakdowns or otherwise getting stranded should not be the reason for going inSANE.
  • If you are going to amusement parks or similar attractions, pack protein bars, bags of nuts and seeds, jerky, and SANE muffins, biscuits, and cookies in a small backpack.  This will save you a small fortune, and keep everyone energized and healthy from dawn to dusk.  Take SANE beverages in drinking containers with straps that can be slung across your body so that you are not weighed down with stuff you have to carry. 

5. Give yourself a break.

If your road trip is a vacation and you want to relax on the SANEity a little bit…do.  It won’t kill you.

Here’s a few thing to think about if you choose to have an inSANE eating moment:

  • Once you start ingesting inSANE foods – especially sugar – it becomes easier and easier to keep doing it, and increasingly harder to stop.  I swear the manufacturers laden them with addictive substances that we find irresistible once even the smallest amount gets in our blood.
  • If you have an inSANE treat – my vacation treat is ice cream – don’t see it as being naughty or as having failed.  Feeling guilty will not help you, it will just make you feel bad; and feeling bad will likely just make you want to eat more inSANE stuff.  instead, see it as a treat – and enjoy it – just be clear that it is not helping you towards your health goals.
  • Taking one whole day out to enjoy inSANE foods is better than eating a little inSANELY every day.  See first bullet point in this section.
  • Once you have enjoyed your inSANE treat, get straight back to SANE foods at your next meal.
  • Do not beat yourself up if you are not perfect.  This is not about perfection, it’s about being better than we were yesterday.

 

6. Have a fantastic road trip!

 

 

 

 

What does 'sane' mean? Click here...Want delicious uber-healthy recipes? Check out my Cookbooks!
  • Janknitz - We got a sodastream. The flavors they sell are hideous, but carbonated water with a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange is delightful. And yes, it can come along on a road trip.ReplyCancel

  • Cowgirl Rae - Wonderful post!
    My husband is a truck driver and living in a truck for a week or 2 is a challenge. He follows the guidelines you gave in addition he has a small chill cooler that plugs in the cigarette lighter and allowed him to have a cold place for yogurt and some cooked meats. There are ways to eat this way and be successful, it only takes a little planning and willingness to restrict yourself slightly to be successful.ReplyCancel

  • Serena - I keep hearing that dried fruits are bad to eat because they have so much sugar. What do you say?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - I say that dried fruits are high in sugar (because the water has all been removed), so they should be used occasionally and in small amounts – almost as a seasoning if you will. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*