Fueling Your Body for Your Next Road Trip: Nutrition Tips from a Local Registered Dietitian


We are excited to have partnered with our sponsor, The Coca-Cola Company, to share tips for your next summer road trip.

Recently, a friend was telling me about her family’s cross-country road trip. Everything seemed to be going well until her six-year-old son experienced an unpleasant episode of tummy trouble while they were driving through Idaho. Shortly thereafter, in an effort to clean up, she found herself partially nude in a public restroom, bathing herself and her young son in the bathroom’s sink. She attributed this unpleasant experience to a bad combination of car-sickness and several days of overly indulgent meals.

As a registered dietitian, I know making balanced food choices while on the road can be challenging. Here are some simple ways for maintaining nutritious eating habits during your summer adventures:

1. Invest in a cooler for the car.

We all know how hot cars can get in the Texas sun! Too much time in the trunk can make food unappetizing or even unsafe. Avoid food spoilage by stocking a cooler with your favorite yogurts, cheese sticks, sandwiches, fresh fruits, and veggies, like apples, clementine oranges, grapes, carrots, and snap peas. Remember to pack food in the order you plan on eating it. If you’re leaving before lunch, pack the sandwiches at the top of the cooler, and place your afternoon snacks towards the bottom.

2. Pre-plan your portions.

Many popular and nutritious goodies, like granola bars, fruit leather, and crackers, are available in single-serving packages. Be sure to pick up your favorites at the local grocery store before rubber meets the road. For even more variety, you can make your own snack bags! Homemade trail mix is a well-balanced snack item when eaten in 1/3-cup portions. Fill reusable containers with snack foods, such as nuts, dried fruits, pretzels, and whole wheat crackers.

Drinks come in all shapes and sizes too. Coca-Cola makes a variety of beverages, including its 7.5-oz mini cans. This portion-controlled option is cooler friendly!

3. Enjoy your favorites in moderation.

Maintaining balanced eating habits requires effort and consistency. With the abundance of food choices dotted along American highways, your typical eating habits often clash with a need for convenience. When on vacation, I like to use the 90/10 rule. Choosing nutritious foods 90% of the time helps keep calorie consumption in check and prevents tummy trouble but still allows enough freedom to enjoy the experience and the delicious treats found while on the road.

4. Stay hydrated.

Travel with reusable water bottles and refill them whenever you stop for gas. It may be tempting to restrict fluids on a road trip to limit bathroom stops. However, staying hydrated will keep you alert, energized, and more in tune to your body’s needs.

5. Beware of boredom.

Driving in the car for long periods of time can be dull. We’re all prompted to eat when experiencing boredom. Before reaching for the snack bags, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry, or am I bored?” Have road games handy or stop for a quick break to stretch your legs when boredom strikes!

Road trips are notoriously chaotic experiences—but they don’t have to be! This summer keep these simple guidelines in mind to stay on the road to success. Happy travels!

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 2.08.00 PMJan Tilley RD, a national leader in nutrition counseling, wellness, and chronic disease management based in San Antonio, Texas, is a mother of four and a consultant to The Coca-Cola Company, where she provides practical nutrition information on behalf of Company.

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