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Planning a Healthy Road Trip

After a year of lock downs and restrictions, more Americans are looking to travel in 2021. In a recent poll, more than two-thirds of respondents indicated they did not feel comfortable traveling by plane – making road trips an increasingly popular option. With summer almost here and kids approaching the end of the school year – what better than to explore scenic views by car or recreational vehicle.

Getting active while on the road is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of scenic views. Consider stopping at a scenic sight, park, a body of water or a greenway for a walk, active family game, free play for kids or yoga session. Bonus – pack small exercise equipment such as a jump ropes or exercise bands. Another way to get some steps in is to find a museum in a downtown area, then explore the surrounding area by foot.

Most drive-through fast food joints aren’t known for a wide variety of healthy choices. Convenient snack foods are often highly processed, containing sodium, sugar and ingredients that can alter hunger cues and cause overeating. Consider these healthy and convenient snack items for your trip:

  • Vegetables – sugar snap peas, sliced cucumber, carrot chips, celery and cherry tomatoes
  • Fruits – apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, grapes, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Protein – flavored tuna pack, hummus or Greek yogurt for veggie dipping, pre-portioned nuts or roasted chickpeas
  • Grains – popcorn, granola bar with <10 grams of sugar, whole wheat crackers

Snacks are great, but it’s also good to come prepared with meal options. While sandwiches and wraps offer handheld meals, consider switching it up by pre-portioning pieces from a rotisserie chicken the night before to pair with a pasta salad. This pasta salad recipe packs in nutrients from a variety of vegetables, adds a nice crunch from bell peppers and cucumbers and is balanced to keep the family full until the next stop.



  • 12 oz box rotini pasta, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup black olives, drained and sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes, julienne cut in oil
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup Italian dressing, homemade or store-bought


  1. Bring pasta to a boil and drop in pasta. Cook for about 6 minutes, or to desired texture. It’s recommended to have the pasta hard to the bite so that it does not have a mushy texture when combined with dressing.
  2. Combine all ingredients. Enjoy!



  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Optional: to get more flavor from the dried spices, first grind with your fingers or in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Whisk all ingredients or place in a blender.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family.

A Healthier Michigan
Author: A Healthier Michigan

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