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How to Eat Healthy While Traveling in a Car

If you’re about to spend countless hours in the car, it’s normal to be concerned about food. It’s easy to slip into unhealthy habits on the road, given that gas stations and fast food restaurants are sometimes your only food options. However, there are ways to stay healthy and eat foods that keep you alert while driving.

Bring healthy snacks with you for the trip so you don’t have to eat out as much. If you do have to stop for food, opt for healthy items. Make sure to snack frequently and eat when you’re hungry to stay alert on the drive. With some extra care, you can stay healthy on a long tri

Packing Healthy Food

Bring along a cooler.

If you don’t have a cooler, pick one up at a department store before your trip, or borrow one from a friend. Coolers can keep healthy options, like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, fresh for the long trip. They can also help snacks like celery or carrots remain crisp and appetizing!

Pack bite-sized fruits and veggies.

If you have to grab a quick snacks while driving, bite-sized options are best. Pre-cut fruits and veggies, and store them in easy-to-access resealable bags. For an on-the-go option, you can also purchase pre-cut fruits and vegetable at the supermarket! Some great options include:

  • Apple slices
  • Carrot sticks
  • Orange slices
  • Celery sticks
  • Snap peas
  • Radishes
  • Clementines
  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Cauliflower or broccoli florets

Include healthy sources of protein.

Protein is vital for a road trip as it helps keep you feeling full. Stock your cooler with healthy sources of protein that won’t weigh you down while traveling and are easy to eat in a few minutes while pulled over at a rest stop. Bring some of the following:

  • Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Organic jerky without additives
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cheese slices

Pack your own lunches.

Most people pull over to have a proper meal at some point on the road. If you pack your own lunch, you won’t be left choosing from potentially unhealthy fast food options. Use a lunch box or paper bag and some Ziploc bags or Tupperware to pack a light, healthy lunch for yourself.

Pack a lunch that’s light and healthy so you won’t get sleepy. Instead of white bread for a sandwich, for example, use whole wheat bread and eat your sandwich with some fruit and a side salad.
If you add protein like fish, nuts, or chicken, a salad can be a meal on its own. It can help you recharge and get back on the road.

Drink water rather than sugary beverages.

It’s important to stay hydrated while driving. Improper hydration can cause drowsiness and irritability, which can affect your ability to focus. Avoid sugary beverages like soda, juice, or overly-sweetened coffee. Choose unsweetened, calorie-free drinks like flat water, sparkling water, or unsweetened tea.

Keep your plastic bottles in your cooler so they stay cold!
For a more eco-friendly option, bring an insulated water bottle and re-fill it when you stop for rest breaks.

Making Healthy Decisions at Rest Stops

Stop at a grocery store instead of a fast food place.

You can actually get a meal at a local grocery store instead of stopping for fast food. You can pick up something healthy like a prepackaged salad or ready-made sandwich. You can also grab some healthy fruits and veggies to have on the side. You can then enjoy your meal in your car before hitting the road again.

Some grocery stores, like Whole Foods, have hot bars or salad bars you can use to design your own healthy meal.

Look for healthier fast food options.

Choose a fast food restaurant that offers fresh fruits and vegetables. Do research in advance to find the healthiest options before you take your trip. In general, opt for fast food restaurants where you can design your meal and get plenty of produce and healthy protein.

Restaurants like Subway and even McDonald’s have online tools to help you plan healthy meals.

Ask for healthy substitutions or alterations.

If your only options are fast food places, don’t hesitate to request healthy substitutions. Ask for a side salad or fruit instead of a side of fries. Request that they hold the mayonnaise or swap it out for a lower calorie option like mustard.
Some places may actually have a separate menu for health-conscious consumers. At Taco Bell, for example, order fresco meals which are lower in calories and minimize unhealthy ingredients.

Opt for grilled items.

When it comes to things like chicken, grilled is always better than fried. As protein is an important component for every meal, it’s not a bad idea to order a meat dish. However, go for something like the grilled chicken sandwich over the fried chicken sandwich.

Watch portion size.

Portion sizes at fast food places tend to be massive. Check the calorie content of the items you order on your phone to stay informed about how much you’re consuming. You can always order a meal and only eat half of it. Save the rest for later in the day.
Always order the smallest sizes possible.

Eating Safely in the Car

Avoid eating while driving, if possible.

In general, eating while driving is not advised. This is especially true with heavy traffic. If you’re feeling hungry, pull over for a snack. If you do need to eat while driving, stick to bite-sized portions that are easy to quickly pop in your mouth.

Eat small amounts frequently. Large meals can weigh you down, leaving you feeling drowsy. It’s not safe to drive while sleepy. Instead of having 1 or 2 big meals on your trip, have light snacks throughout the day with small meals in-between. This will help you stay alert on the road and.

Keep at least 1 hand on the wheel at all times.

If you are eating or drinking in the car, make sure you keep a hand on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Do not eat anything that requires both hands unless you are able to pull over for your meal.

Place napkins within easy reach.

In the event of a spill, the first thing you’ll be looking for is a napkin to mop up as much of the damage as possible. However, looking for napkins can be a distracting process that keeps you from driving safety. Store napkins in the glovebox or the console for easy-access.
You may also want to keep wet wipes in the car to clean your hands in case any of the food items are sticky or messy

How to Travel by car with Cats

If you need to travel with your cat, there are ways to make the trip safer and more comfortable for you and your pet. Use a pet cage and get the cat acclimated to it before the trip.

Take food, water, a leash, a litter box, first aid materials, and enough cat toys to stimulate your cat at the end of a day of travel. With a little bit of planning and some effort during your trip, you can have a successful trip in the car with your cat.

Practice using a leash before your trip.

Use a leash on your cat at home before taking a trip. Try to walk your cat around your home for a while and then take it outside on the leash once it starts to get used to it. This practice will make it so the leash does not come as a total surprise to the cat when you are traveling.
You may just want to attach the leash to your cat’s collar. However, you can get it a body harness if it fights the leash too much when it is attached to its collar.

Medicate your cat before leaving, if necessary.

If your cat is not good in the car, for instance it drools, paces, meows uncontrollably, or gets upset, then you may need to medicate it to keep it calm. Some of these behaviors are caused by anxiety and some are caused by ailments, such as motion sickness. Consult with your veterinarian about prescription or over-the-counter medications that might help your cat during your travels.

Follow the directions on the medication packaging for dosage and timing of dosing. In most cases, you will want to begin the medication before the trip begins so that the cat is calm from the beginning.

Put your cat in it’s cage.

Confine your cat to a cage or a pet carrying case so the cat doesn’t get in your way while you’re driving. It can be dangerous if a loose cat climbs into the driver’s lap, gets underfoot, or becomes frightened or excited.

Make sure the cage is large enough for your cat to turn around in, stand up fully, and stretch out.
Place something soft in the cage for the cat to lie on before putting the cat inside.
Keep the inside of your car at a comfortable temperature, not too hot and not too cold.

Secure the cage in the car.

Once you put your cat in the cage, secure it with one of the seat belts or by placing it in a spot where it cannot move. This will help to protect your cat from injury if you have to stop suddenly or you get into an accident.

Give your cat water regularly.

Fill your cat’s water bowl at rest stops and offer it a chance to drink. Cats can become dehydrated easily, especially if they eat dry food, so it’s important to give your cat frequent access to water.
It is typically not a good idea to give your cat water while the car is moving. It will likely spill and get all over the place.

Let your cat out of the car every two hours or so.

You and your cat should stretch your legs every couple hours during a trip in the car.

If at all possible, let the cat investigate an area with loose dirt or sand to encourage it to defecate or urinate.
If there are no sandy spots available, or your cat is particular about litter, set up a small litter box and try to have your cat use it while you are stopped.

Taking a few minutes to let your cat relax and go to the bathroom is better than having your cat have an accident in the car.

Don’t leave your cat alone in the car.

It is dangerous to leave a pet in a car unattended. The temperature can increase rapidly in a closed up car, so you can endanger your cat’s health by leaving it alone for a few minutes if it’s too hot out.

Never leave your cat in a car if the temperature is too hot. If the temperature is warm and you can’t avoid leaving your cat briefly, park in the shade and leave the windows open enough to allow air circulation, but not so wide your cat can escape or get its head caught. A cat can get sick and die quickly if left in an overheated car.

Offer food on the cat’s regular schedule.

To prevent car-sickness, try to arrange your cat’s main meal after you arrive at your destination. However, you should try to feed it at a time that is close to when it normally eats.

Cats’ bowels are stimulated by food, so be sure to set up the litter box as soon as you arrive at your nightly destination.

Let your cat blow off some steam at the end of the day.

Take cat toys or a laser pointer on your trip to stimulate the cat with play at the end of the day’s travel. It’s important for your cat to move around and get vigorous exercise, especially if the feline is confined in a cage for most of the day.
This is especially important if you are going on a multi-day trip with your cat.

Things You might need

  • Pet cage
  • Cat bed
  • Cat food and bowl
  • Water and bowl
  • First aid kit
  • Leash
  • Cat toys
  • Litter box

Warnings

Do not place your cat in the bed of a pickup truck or anywhere outside the cab of the vehicle while driving. Dust or debris can get in a cat’s eyes and cause infection.

Tips on Travelling with your dogs

Some dogs love to ride in cars and it’s fun to take them along with you wherever you go. However, this is not the case for all dogs. Here are some safety tips you should think about before traveling by car with your favorite pet, whether they enjoy the journey or not.

Let a puppy or new pet become accustomed to riding in a car gradually.

Begin by allowing your dog to wander around your car with the engine off. Then start with short journeys until you and your dog become familiar with traveling by car together.

Make your first few trips in the car to somewhere fun for your dog.

Don’t go long distances right away, just get your dog used to the space. Take your dog to a park or a field so they associate a car journey with something good rather than just trips to the vet.

Keep your dog’s collar on whenever you are driving long distance.

There’s always a chance, no matter how well-behaved your dog may be, that your dog will get out of the car and run away from you. Make sure that your dog can be identified if it escapes from you while traveling.

Figure out how you want to restrain your dog in the car.

It is not safe, nor advisable to let a dog roam around a car unrestrained. Consider putting your dog in a pet cage if you are driving a long distance or if your dog is a nervous passenger. It is the most effective way of keeping a dog still and under control whilst driving.

Having a dog caged will help you to focus on driving instead of on the dog, which is important because distracted drivers can easily have accidents. It will also keep your dog safe if you have to stop quickly or if you get in an accident.

If you don’t want to cage your dog, at least find a way to make sure your dog is secure. For instance if you have an estate car, consider confining your dog to the rear of the car. If you do have a large window boot, put up a wire grid to stop your dog jumping over the back of the seats.

Line the dog’s area with dog blankets or place it’s bed in the corner so it can nap comfortably on the journey. Make sure you don’t have any heavy loose items, such as bowls or bottles, as those can become dangerous projectiles in an accident. Most dogs find sleeping an easy way to cope with motion sickness.

You could also purchase a dog safety seat. While it is not as secure as a cage, it will be safer and more comfortable than a car seat for your dog if you turn or stop the car suddenly. The most popular among these are bucket seats. They attach at the back of the front seats, and the top of the back seats, creating a soft well in which your dog, and any liquids (or solids!) they may create, are contained.

These can be made with a blanket or purchased cheaply.
Car seatbelts for dogs are a great tool if you don’t want your dogs confined, or if you only have a two-seater car. Make sure to attach them to a harness, and not a collar.

They clip into the female buckle of a car seatbelt on one end, and have a standard lead clip on the other. By attaching them to a harness, you ensure the dog is secured by the body, and their neck won’t be damaged in an emergency.
If you use a cage, make sure it is secured.

Make sure it is very secure to prevent it from moving if you stop suddenly or get hit. An unsecured cage can be just as, or even more dangerous than an unsecured dog.

Introduce your dog to the cage, if you are using one.

Present the cage to your dog positively. Allow the dog to sniff the cage before it goes in the car. Once the cage is placed in the car, lock your dog in it.

Continue your positive attitude about the cage and walk away from the dog in the cage for several minutes. Allow the dog to get into the cage itself by luring it with treats, and do not force the dog into the cage.

Exercise your dog before loading it into the car.

You need to get your dog tired out before caging it. While a tired dog may still be upset about being caged, a fully rested dog will usually be even worse.

Avoid feeding your dog right before your trip.

Feed him or her at least a few hours before. This will help your dog avoid getting carsick or doing it’s business in the car, which is unpleasant for both owner and dog.

Pack appropriate supplies for your dog when embarking on a long car journey.

Make the dog’s area comfortable by placing it’s bed or blankets down for padding. Also, bring water, treats, the dog’s collar and lead, some of your dog’s favorite chew toys, and plastic bags for poop.

Place a few chew toys in the back with your dog to keep your dog occupied.

It is better not to give him or her a bone or food treats because if the dog feels sick it will bring it back up.

Squeaky toys are also undesirable as they will drive you crazy.

Consult a vet if your dog shows signs of car sickness.

Never medicate your dog with Dramamine or any other medication without the guidance of your vet. Your vet may have some other suggestions instead.

Address hyperactivity before the trip.

If your dog has hyperactivity problems, contact your vet before the trip.

See if a mild sedative is available and safe for your dog, especially if it is a long journey. Follow the dosing instructions carefully.

Take breaks.

Let your dog run around and tire itself out. You should also give your dog a little snack and a little water while taking your break. Make sure that you stop every hour or so and go for a quick walk, even if it’s only on the Grass by a fast-food restaurant at a service station by the highway. This lets your dog go to the toilet, and gives you an ample opportunity to give your dog some water.

Taking your dog on short walks is important as it means that the dog can stretch their legs and prevents it from getting bored.

This is especially important if your going on a long journey. Four hours is your average dog’s absolute limit for driving without a longer break, but as a driver it’s recommended you take a break after every two hours of driving.

Make sure you stop somewhere grassy and relatively quiet (not right beside the road), lock your car, feed your dog some food and water, and take him for a walk so he can let off some of his excess energy.

If you stop by the highway your dog MUST be on a lead for his own safety.

Don’t leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day.

Be aware of how quickly a dog can get heatstroke, and die, in a parked car. To be safe, never leave your dog unattended in your car in warm weather for any length of time.

If you stop for a meal, park your car in the shade, and let the windows down about an inch each to let cool air in. Put a bowl of cool water in the car for your dog and unbuckle him or her if in a dog seat. Lock your car doors, and order your food to go.
Try to spend no more than five minutes away from the car if it is a warm day, as you don’t want your dog to overheat.

If your stop will take a bit longer, for instance you are waiting in a long queue for food, tie your dog to a post either just inside the front door or just outside in a place where you can see it. At least he or she will be out of the heat while you wait.

Make sure to tie the dog with secure knots so it doesn’t escape. Tight knots will also mean it will be less likely for someone to steal your dog.

Avoid comforting your dog if he or she is showing signs of distress.

Comforting the dog, as natural as it seems, reinforces the idea that something bad is happening.

Do your best to stay calm and normal while paying attention for signs of true distress (instead of discomfort).

Reward your dog once you get to your destination.

Take it for a long walk immediately on arrival. Give it a treat, assure it, and give it lots of love for making through the journey.

How to travel with children

Traveling with children is not always easy, especially on long-haul flights, or any long trip by train or car. However, with a little preparation your traveling time can possibly become as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Have your children’s appropriate legal documents.

Passports are now required for all children, including infants and toddlers, for international U.S. travel.

Make sure to order them 4-6 weeks in advance to allow for their applications to be processed.

Double check everything, as the last thing you want is to cancel a trip because your child’s passport application was denied for lack of information.

If you don’t need a passport to travel, still remember to take a copy of your children’s birth certificates. The cut-off age for lap children is two years old. Some airlines don’t ask for a birth certificate and some do.

So to be on the safe side, keep a copy of your children’s birth certificates in your purse/bag. Of course, if you have a passport, you will not need to bring birth certificates as the passport will provide complete authentication.

Bring a backpack of toys and activities.

Kids like being in charge, so give them something to be in charge of. A backpack is perfect because it stays put, unlike a bag which can slip off their shoulder and you end up with one more thing to carry; just don’t make it too heavy for them.

Not only is this useful in-flight/on-board entertainment but it’ll serve a dual purpose of amusing the kids once you reach your destination. Put in all your favorite ideas, including these suggestions:

  • Books. There’s never enough time in the day to read to the kids, so take advantage of the opportunity of the long plane, train or car ride for some one-on-one time. Pack your kids’ favorite books for you to read or easy-reader books for them to read by themselves.
    There’s no reason to plug their brains into electronics for the whole journey. Expand their imagination through the endless possibilities in a good book!
  • Coloring Books. Coloring books can be a great distraction and can help get out a little scribbling energy. A favorite coloring tool is Crayola’s “Color Wonder” markers and paper. They’re great because the markers only write on Color Wonder paper, which means your little ones leave no evidence behind! Also try dollar stores for coloring books you won’t mind them half-completing and being discarded for the sake of extra space.
  • Comfort Toys for Small Children. Throw in a favorite blanket or bear for small children. It may help them snuggle down for quiet time or just help get through a bumpy patch of air or a tedious part of the drive. You can never have enough props for entertaining that last 20-30 minutes of a flight when everyone is impatient to get off! Favorite games to play with a blanket or cuddle friend are “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake”.
  • DVDs and Personal DVD Players. A laptop with a DVD drive works just as well as a personal DVD player. Bring along a set of earphones (or a splitter so you can have two sets of earphones), so your child’s viewing of his/her favorite movie or TV show doesn’t interfere with the comfort of others. Although, if you are taking a plane flight, you can save on space and rely on the in-flight entertainment. Best suited to car travel.
  • Electronic Games. Hand held games are extremely popular for older kids and can keep them quiet for hours. Bring along a set of earphones so your child’s favorite game doesn’t interfere with the comfort of others. A long plane or car trip might be a good time to invest in a new game for a special surprise!
  • Sticker Books. Reusable sticker books are great for early elementary age kids. You can find them in your child’s favorite TV/movie character or interest. And because they’re reusable you can create new scenes, stories or just mix them up for fun!
  • Boards. Pegboards are fun for all ages of children: young children can just fit them into the slots, middle-aged children may make patterns, and older children can make designs. Geoboards are great for children over 3 years old. Children can make shapes or designs with the rubber bands. Felt or flannel boards are great for making scenes with felt figures. Magnetic boards also serve this purpose, they just use magnetic figures instead of felt ones. Try activity boards for young children, these can be purchased at the store, as well as dressing boards. These are great because all of the pieces are attached, so you won’t loose anything. They are easy to store, and have long playing value for toddlers and young preschoolers.

Pretend play.

Children love acting like adults and can learn adult ways from pretend play. Pack according to age: plastic keys made for babies for infants and toddlers, real ones for preschoolers. Also consider:

  • a wallet with play money and cards
  • a camera
  • a map
  • a compass
  • a doll with a blanket and a bottle or other simple item

Bring your car seat on the plane.

One way to rein in a fidgety toddler is to take their car seat on the plane. Young kids behave much better in a familiar car seat, which keeps everyone happy.

They can rest and fall asleep more easily in their car seat because it reminds them of riding in the car. Check with your airline first that this is permissible before lugging it down to the airport.

Car seats also make for greater entertainment for younger children and make you not have to carry so many toys. Attach an unbreakable mirror to the soft side of the car seat, and a play steering wheel and keys to the side with the hard arms (though these may be soft at times, depending on the car seat). Suction toys are popular for the car seat tray, if the car seat has one.

Attach up to 4 entertainment items on the car seat, then bring along some string or ribbon to attach small toys to the car seat. Also, many toy companies make toys that are attachable to the car seat. Changing the toys every so often is well worth it, for infants and toddlers.

Divide and conquer.

Don’t lose the kids, especially if you have more than one to keep an eye on.

Decide ahead of time who is in charge of which child. This will eliminate the heart-sinking question “Where is so-and-so?? with the answer of “I thought you were watching him?” Miscommunication and lost children are not a good way to start a vacation!

Take precautions to guard against ear problems:

For babies: bring something they can suck on to help regulate their ears during the course of the flight, especially during ascent and descent.

Airline flights can be quickly spoiled by a little one with an earache! Some ideas to try: Bottles of juice and/or water, pacifier, jello jigglers with extra Knox gelatin (this is messy but the kids love it!), or any Gerber baby type snacks.

They dissolve quickly in the mouth eliminating a choking hazard (read safety precaution on the label before buying).

Try such snacks as “Gerber stars” (lots of flavors), fruit snacks (these start dissolving almost instantly) and baby cereal bars. As of August 2006, such snacks and gel products may be prohibited under tight new security regulations. Check with the airline or government transport security sites for prohibited items.

For toddlers and older children: toddlers and older kids don’t always understand how to regulate their ears by just swallowing, so a little help is sometimes required. Try Starbursts because they take a long time to chew and a lot of saliva begins flowing, which to keeps the child swallowing. Some other ideas are fruit snacks, gum and hard candy (for older children). Again, check with your airline or government transport security site to see what is and what isn’t permitted to be carried on board.

Take items for mess clean ups.

Keep a bag of wipes, hand sanitizer and disposable bags for dirty diapers nearby. Baby wipes can clean up almost anything—even something spilled on carpet.

Hand sanitizer is a must for traveling with kids and those disposable bags are good for containing messy stuff besides diapers! And don’t forget to bring your favorite brand of stain remover wipes or pens for those times when the baby wipes just aren’t enough.

As of August 2006, very strict security regulations are in place which may impact on which of these items you can take on a plane.

Be flexible with your seating arrangements. If you’re traveling with a group, or a large number of family members, it might be fun to let your children choose which adult they want to sit by.

If they don’t see Uncle Bob very often and want to sit by him (and Uncle Bob is okay with the idea), then relinquish parental control for a few hours.

It’s a great time to talk and tell stories with people you don’t get to see every day. And the parents have a small rest!

Take snacks.

Snacks, snacks and more snacks! Snacking keeps children busy and entertained. So pack your kids favorites for your long journey. The healthier the better – try carrot sticks, celery pieces, permitted nuts, gummy bears etc.

Some Precautions to take

Take only *copies* (not originals) of your child’s birth certificate

You don’t want to take the chance of losing your original legal documents.

Check airline or government transport security sites for changes to carry-on luggage.

Don’t get caught out by losing things to airport security because they have decided to ban them: Be aware in advance.

See How to Know What You Can and Can’t Carry on Board an Aircraft for information on how to check.

Be careful about how much your child eats on a long trip, especially if they are flying.

Children can get nausea much more easily than adults can, and a full stomach doesn’t make it any better. Also try to avoid giving kids snacks right off the bat.

If they have a couple of hours to get used to the motion of the car/plane/train, they are less likely to become sick.

Make sure a child seat is properly fitted in your car.

If you aren’t sure, contact your local police station to have them check it or to refer you to someone who can check it for you. Better safe than sorry.

Be careful about driving at night:

you may be too tired and driving may become unsafe.

Only drive if you have gotten a good nights sleep the night before and slept in. You should also only drive if you are in good enough condition. If it is not practical to do all of these, drive at naptime or during early evening sleeping.