The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Living on the Road — Even Over the Holidays

How Tos & Tips

Let’s be honest: healthy living is already a challenge. Keeping up with an exercise regimen and making healthy food choices can be difficult, even under the best of circumstances.

Add in the routine-breaking fun (read: instability) of an RV road trip and the festive atmosphere of the holiday season, and your very best efforts to “live clean” might be on their way out the window.

Oh, yeah, and it’s cold and flu season to boot!

But staying healthy while you’re on the road is totally worth it — and actually totally possible. In fact, it can even be fun. We promise!

Fit travel will keep you energized and ready for all the adventures your trip can throw at you. And the process of keeping up with that healthy lifestyle might even introduce you to some yummy new foods and fun activities you’d been missing out on. And all of this also gives you more opportunities to connect with your loved ones.

With the winter flu season, there’s no better time to go over some basic health tips that you can follow no matter where in the world you find yourself. From eating right to moving more and safeguarding yourself against those icky winter germs, here’s what you need to know to stay fit as a fiddle.

How Do You Keep a Healthy Lifestyle While Traveling?

Even for those of us who prioritize our daily routines when we’re home, vacation can be a time to let loose — and let unhealthy habits creep back in.

And we’re certainly not saying you should never take a break from the gym or indulge in a holiday treat. After all, there’s more to life than kale and bicep curls!

But that very same switching-up of your routine can be taxing on your immune system, which can lead to decidedly un-fun on-the-road illnesses. If your body is used to a certain diet, level of activity, and sleep schedule, it can struggle to deal with a deluge of sudden changes. And at the exact same time, your travels are introducing you to all sorts of new potential pathogens. No, thank you!

Although it might be impossible to maintain every aspect of your regular routine while you’re traveling, there are some simple ways to make your road trip healthier. You’ll have all the energy and enthusiasm you need to enjoy the trip, which is the whole point in the first place!

So we’re going to go over a few tips and tricks to help keep your body happy during your adventures. By the end of the post, we think you’ll agree that travel health is not just possible and worth it, but actually a way better path to experiencing all the goodness #RVlife has to offer!

A salad and glass of water

Maintaining a Healthy Diet on the Road

No matter what ails you (or someday might), a healthy diet is high on the list of preventions and medicines. What we put into our bodies affects our health, from our circulatory system all the way down to our state of mind.

But healthy food habits can be difficult to keep up with when you’re traveling to new destinations with lots of tasty restaurants. And even if you’re not headed to any kind of foodie paradise, it’s often simply easier to grab not-so-healthy gas station snacks when you’re in the middle of a lengthy drive.

But no matter where you are, your food should be as good for your body as it is pleasurable. Food is literally what fuels us and keeps our bodies going — and your body does a lot of pretty awesome stuff, right? It deserves the best nutrition available!

As challenging as it can be to make good food choices, RVers do have one pretty big advantage in this arena: the magic of the motorhome kitchen. When your RV comes complete with a fridge and stove, you can whip up healthy camping meals and road trip snacks that keep you from relying on the traditional highway diet of potato chips and Slim Jims.

Not only are home-cooked meals better for your health — they’re better for your wallet, too! Along with offsetting the roadside snack attacks, your kitchen on wheels will also keep you from heading to the nearest restaurant for every single meal. That way, you’ll have plenty of cash left over to spend on other fun stuff at your destination.

Healthy Road Trip Meals That Satisfy Your Cravings

Think “tasty” and “good for you” are mutual exclusives? We’re here to prove you wrong — and fill your belly with delicious and nutritious treats!

Here are some healthy recipes to try out on your upcoming RV road trip.

Make-Ahead Travel Snacks

For many RVers, sit-down meals aren’t the problem — it’s those quick snacks you grab when you’re gassing up.

But you can easily save time, money, and milligrams of sodium by making some road trip snacks before it’s time to hit the highway. (Bonus: they won’t leave you in that 3 p.m. sugar coma that makes driving so much less appealing.)

No-Bake Energy Bars

The very best road trip snacks are easy to eat, easy to make, and packed with drive-fueling nutrition — and these no-bake protein bars hit all three qualifiers with only four ingredients. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and low on the glycemic index, but there are tons of other recipes for homemade protein bars out there for you to play around with!

Homemade Trail Mix

Yes, trail mix is readily available at most gas stations. But by making it ahead with bulk-bought items, you can skip the salt and added oils… and double down on your favorites so you don’t end up with a bag of sad peanuts after fishing out all the good stuff. (Although, word to the wise: If you’re trying to make your trail mix as healthy as possible, you might want to skip the M&Ms in favor of some dried fruit.)

Roasted Chickpeas

Who knew: those cans of chickpeas you have stashed in your pantry become deliciously crispy snackables after a few minutes in the oven. Pop ’em in a mason jar, and you’ve got a salty (or spicy — it’s all up to you!) snack that packs a punch of protein. Do keep in mind that they gradually lose their crunchiness over time as they cool… but it’s replaced with a just-as-addictive chewy texture.

Salad in a Jar

Who wants a soggy fast-food burger when you can have fresh, delicious, and healthy produce served up on the go? This post over at Hurry the Food Up shows you how easy it is to create travel-friendly lunches packed with nutrients. Plus, they’re customizable for even the pickiest eaters!

a Dutch oven over a campfire

Camping Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a cook, you can use your RV’s kitchen to your advantage once you’ve arrived at your destination.

Even in a large motorhome, your camper kitchen might be on the small side — which may make you think it’s not possible to store enough fresh goods to create the produce-heavy, fiber-filled meals that are the hallmark of healthy eating.

But with a little bit of creative Tetrising (and maybe some meal prep), you can store a whole lot more than you think in your RV’s fridge and kitchen cabinets. And that means you have the freedom to make delicious meals that don’t rely on shelf-stable but less nutritious ingredients. Check out this blog post to learn more!

Recipe Example: Crazy-Easy Stir-Fry

Tasty, customizable, and brimming with fresh veggies to keep you full and fueled for the day’s adventures, it’s hard to do better than a quick and easy stir fry — and we do mean quick. This recipe comes together in less than twenty minutes!

Grill it up!

It’s hard to think of a more classic campground activity than firing up the grill. And if you’re trying to maintain a healthy way of eating on the road, that’s a good thing!

Grills transform everything that touches them into delicious, smoky, charred masterpieces — and we’re talking about way more than overly processed hot dogs. Freshly grilled veggies, lean meats, and even fruit combine healthy, hearty, and heavenly into one perfect bite… and it’s easy and fun, too. (Don’t believe us? Check out our Ultimate Grillmaster’s Guide for more information — and some creative grilling recipes you totally haven’t tried yet!)

Recipe Example: Grilled Peaches

Whether served as a dessert or a sweet side dish, grilled peaches are a southern summer staple — but you can easily substitute them for whatever’s in season in your part of the world.

For even more delicious, homemade recipes to try while camping — and kitchen tips to help make it easier — check out the following helpful articles:

Travel Exercise: It Doesn’t Have to Be a Drag!

Exercise is about so much more than making sure you look good in your swimsuit. Regular movement keeps our bodies strong and has a whole heap of other physical benefits, too. Getting your daily dose of cardio can help you sleep better, improve your mood — and yes, it can even be fun and social!

Many campers find a commitment to daily movement vastly improves their quality of life and helps them explore their destinations without getting tired or winded. Here are some ways to get moving when you’re on the move.

Get the right gym membership.

Even if you’re a dedicated gym-goer when you’re at home, a road trip might put an end to your daily ritual. Many small, privately owned gyms only have one location, and even some franchises don’t allow you to use your membership at other branches.

You might find a gym at your destination that offers a day-pass or week-pass option, although be sure to check the price. Sometimes you can get an introductory price, but sometimes those classes are actually more expensive!

As a frequent traveler whose gym time serves as a substitute for therapy, I always recommend campers look into Anytime Fitness — and no, they’re not paying me to say that. They’re one of the largest gym franchises in the country, and after one month of membership, you get full reciprocal access. In other words, you can get into any Anytime property — and as the name implies, they’re open 24/7 to boot. And they’re widespread enough that you’re pretty likely to find one, no matter your destination. I even visited an Anytime in Barcelona while I was abroad!

Psst: Even if you wouldn’t be caught dead pumping iron, a nationwide gym membership can be a valuable asset for an RV camper. If you find yourself boondocking in a Walmart parking lot, for instance, you might be able to swing by the gym for a shower. Just a thought!

Get outside.

Not into hitting the gym? No worries. When you’re an RV camper, the whole world is your gym. And it’s a whole lot prettier than even the fanciest fitness facilities, as far as we’re concerned.

No matter where you’re camping, chances are you’re in a natural area that offers at least a few hiking trails — which are a great way not only to get your exercise in, but also to get an up close and personal introduction to your destination. You could also rent or bring along bicycles for both trail riding and urban exploring.

Even if you’re not into long walks through the woods, there are tons of other ways to get outside and get moving. Many of them are fun, family bonding activities, too! For end-of-year travel, try sledding, making snow angels, jumping in fall leaves, or simply playing a game of hide and seek at the RV park. It all counts as exercise — and feels like anything but a chore.

Stuck inside? Try modified movements.

If the weather isn’t cooperating and you don’t have a gym membership, you can still find modified ways to get a bit of a sweat going inside your RV! Simple isometric movements, like planks, can be just as intense and strength-building as exercises that require equipment; some basic yoga poses can help you stretch out your muscles after a long day’s drive.

If you really don’t want to skip a beat, you could invest in a few pieces of stowable at-home workout gear for your rig, like a set of resistance bands or a stability ball you can easily deflate. You could even consider a foldable stationary bike if you’re looking for a travel-friendly, weatherproof way to get in a quick cardio session.

Here are even more ideas for getting your exercise in when you’re stuck inside your RV.

Don’t forget: Every step counts!

Sometimes, it can feel like it’s not really exercise exercise unless you’ve gone to the gym or made a conscious effort.

But especially when we’re traveling, we tend to move around a lot during the day. And to your body, there’s no difference between exercise and exploring!

A great way to get a real idea of how much you’re moving on a day-to-day basis is to invest in a fitness tracker, like a FitBit or Zururu. Along with showing you just how many steps you actually take during a given day, these wearables can also provide a host of other important health information, like heart rate, calorie expenditure, and even sleep quality.

a family in front of an RV decorated for Christmas

Holiday Health: Tips and Tricks for Surviving Yuletide

Now, as if maintaining your healthy habits while traveling wasn’t already complicated enough, there’s another thing to consider at this time of year: the holidays!

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas might be a whole lot of fun, but they’re not exactly known for their focus on physical wellness. Between the candy bowls on every office desk, the sumptuous family feasts, and the cakes, pies, and cookies Grandma’s so proud of, most of us end up wearing a few extra pounds by the time January rolls around.

And if you’re adding extended travel to that list of health-thwarting obstacles… well, let’s just say you have your work cut out for you.

So, want to save your New Year’s Resolutions for something more creative than “lose ten pounds”?

Here are some simple tips and tricks to help you get through the holidays with your health and fitness intact.

First things first: get your flu shot

Winter is a festive, feasting time for everyone… including, unfortunately, our least-favorite (and incredibly common) viral pathogens.

As of October, flu season is upon us, and winter colds are rampant, too. Although the air temperature itself doesn’t cause illness, our tendency to huddle indoors to escape it — usually in the company of other humans — can expose us to more potential ickies. And trust us, you do not want to spend your hard-won vacation curled into the fetal position on the couch, surrounded by a zillion spent Kleenex. (Although we do recommend you keep a few comforting, sickness-relieving items on board when you travel during the winter — just in case.)

A flu shot hurts way less than spending a week in bed, especially when that week was supposed to be full of travel fun. Plus, many pharmacies, grocery stores, and other easily accessible locations offer flu shots for free.

“Healthy holiday food” — it’s not an oxymoron!

Yes, your aunt’s favorite recipe for pie crust may call for lard. And yes, your dad’s famous pumpkin bread features a truly insane amount of sugar — both white and brown. (That’s the secret to keeping it so moist!)

And honestly… the holidays only come once a year. You should totally allow yourself to enjoy some of these annual traditions in moderation.

But there are also lots of ways to subtly upgrade your favorite recipes and make them a whole lot healthier without compromising their flavor. In fact, in many cases, your guests won’t be able to distinguish between the real deal and the “fake” version… but your waistline will certainly know the difference!

For example, trading out plain, white sugar for the no-calorie sweetener erythritol is one of the main secrets behind many sugar-free baked treats. Low-carb dieters also frequently substitute alternative flours made of high-fiber foods like almonds or coconut, although admittedly, these can alter the texture of the final product quite a bit.

Looking to cut back on fat — or at least eat a healthier kind? Replace the butter in your cake with applesauce or avocado. In fact, there are all sorts of lower-calorie, healthier food replacements you can implement in any of your favorite holiday recipes, sweet or savory.

Finally, don’t forget: moderation is key. Even the heaviest and richest recipes won’t make you gain weight or grow sick… provided you don’t eat too much of them!

Create healthy, new traditions together.

Maybe you create a movement to start Christmas dinner with a freshly-tossed salad, with each family member choosing one addition.

Or maybe you add participating in your local Turkey Trot to your list of yearly Thanksgiving activities… or even just head outside after dinner to make a snowman.

But no matter how many long-standing holiday traditions you and your family follow, adding new ones is a fun way to bond and make the season feel more like your own. And by finding ways to prioritize healthy habits while you make them, those holiday traditions could become a gift that keeps on giving — even far off in your distant family future.

Basic RV Travel Tips for Health and Safety

Anytime you’re traveling, but especially during the holidays, you always want to follow the golden rule: safety first. While most RV trips are safe and stress-free, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared for an accident or an emergency.

And during the winter feast days, there tend to be a whole lot more people on the road — many of whom have been celebrating the season with a nip or three of eggnog. Unfortunately, that means your risk of becoming involved with something unpleasant might be elevated… and nothing can ruin a Christmas vacation as quickly as a traffic accident. Especially one you’re not properly prepared for.

So during your winter travels (and always), make sure you have a well-stocked emergency kit on board your RV, and that all its components are up-to-date and ready to use. We’ve written a post about emergency kits before, including an exhaustive list of what to keep in yours, but some basic emergency gear to consider includes:

Along with having the basic safety gear you need on board, you’ll also want to implement some basic safety precautions and behaviors to prevent an emergency from happening in the first place.

For instance, especially when driving during winter weather, always take it extra slow when you’re operating a travel trailer or motorhome — it’s a whole lot more weight (and a lot harder to stop) than your day-to-day vehicle, even if you drive a large pickup truck or SUV.

And even if you’re camped in a friendly and well-protected RV park, it’s important to keep your wits about you and keep your eyes open for suspicious behavior or potentially dangerous scenarios. No matter when you travel, things can happen.

For even more information on staying safe and healthy during your holiday travels (or any time of year), check out our ultimate guide to RVing safety.

And don’t forget: by keeping yourself and your loved ones safe, healthy, and fit, you’ll be able to enjoy many more camping trips to come.

Happy camping, all — and happy holidays, too!

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