Planning a getaway from Plantation? Whether it’s the scorching heat or a sense of summertime adventure creeping up on you, it’s time to let your wanderlust run wild. But, before you pack up the car and speed off on your dream vacation, there are some road trip tips you’ll want to keep in mind. From the ultimate snacks that will keep you fueled the entire drive, to helpful hints that will keep your joints limber despite all the sitting, keep reading to discover how to have a healthy, fun road trip.
What to Know Before You Hit the Road
Cruising down I-95 with the A.C. blasting and tunes cranked up sounds like the fun-filled break from reality you’ve been craving. But, despite how good a road trip sounds in theory, it’s bound to leave you a little cramped, a little bored, and a little hungry after you’ve counted what seems like your thousandth mile marker. Besides the boredom, sitting cooped up in the car for hours on end can be tough on your body. Just take a look at some of the possible impacts of driving for long hours.
- Poor Blood Circulation: Prolonged sitting time can slow down your circulation and cause blood to pool in the legs and feet. Aside from that uncomfortable pins and needles sensation, poor blood circulation can also lead to swollen ankles or even dangerous blood clots.
- Weakened Muscles: Sitting for hour after hour loosens and weakens the muscles in the body, particularly those in the midsection and lower body. This can pose an issue if you have any plans of hiking, biking, or simply enjoying your destination once you exit the car.
- Posture Problems: The longer you sit and maintain poor posture, the more likely you are to experience chronic pain in areas such as the legs, hips, back, shoulders, and neck.
- Joint Pain: Experiencing pain at the front of the knee under the kneecaps is a common issue for drivers keeping their knees bent for a long period of time. This poor positioning can affect the protective cartilage that sits under the kneecaps, and cause joint discomfort in the hips, elbows, and wrists.
Prepping Your Car for Success
The car is the heart of the road trip – without it, the trip isn’t happening. Since you’ll be spending a decent amount of time in your vehicle, you’ll want to optimize its comfortability for the long hours on the road. This means giving your car a good scrub, and maybe even popping in an air freshener to fill the car with an enjoyable scent. Check your mirrors, head rests, and seat belts to set everything to a level that makes you feel comfortable and doesn’t make you twist and turn (we’ll get back to the best road trip tips for avoiding soreness soon).
Aside from keeping yourself comfortable, of course, you’ll want to do a bit of routine maintenance on the car itself. Begin with a checking the typical vitals: tire pressure and tread, coolant levels, and brake fluid. Make sure you have a fully inflated spare, along with a jack, wrench, and other tire-changing necessities. Clean out any junk like old receipts and water bottles and take inventory of your glovebox. You should have your registration and proof of insurance easily accessible, but consider throwing in other essentials, like band-aids, ibuprofen, or a phone charger.
Improving Posture While Driving
You’re probably pretty psyched about your upcoming trip already, but what if we told you could also improve your posture even while on the road? Having the optimal driving position will not only alleviate the symptoms of driving fatigue and stiffness, but it will also benefit your posture in the long run.
To improve your posture while driving, follow this road trip checklist:
- Adjust your seat position so you can reach the pedals without straining your knees forward or keeping them bent under the steering wheel
- Set your backrest slightly backwards and adjust your headrest so it cushions your entire head
- Set the steering wheel at the correct height to allow your arms to slightly bend
- Keep your hands at the 10 and 4 o’clock position on the steering wheel to keep the shoulders relaxed
- Keep your elbows in a relaxed, comfortable position
- Maintain a relaxed driving position to reduce pressure on your spine and cramps in your legs
- Consider visiting a chiropractor near Plantation to address any postural issues you have before getting behind the wheel
Trunk Preparation 101
If you’ll be utilizing your trunk space, bear in mind any shopping or thrifting you may be doing in the days ahead. From trinket souvenirs to larger pieces you just can’t head home without, you never know what else you might need to throw in your trunk.
Therefore, do your best to pack light. Bring practical pieces you know you’ll wear, and clothing you can layer to match the weather – rain or shine.
Don’t over-do it while packing, either. For one, trying to play a game of Jenga in your trunk will be no fun. Strapping luggage to the hood will just drag your car down, slowing you down, and decreasing fuel efficiency, which means more stops to fill up the tank.
Likewise, the heavier you pack, the more you’ll need to be lifting and carrying. Avoid souring your own trip by pulling a muscle lifting luggage.
If you do have to lift, always bend from the knees and ask for assistance for heavier items. Opt for luggage that you can roll on wheels, or with two straps to be worn as a backpack to reduce stress on the spine. On all accounts, never attempt to twist while picking up something heavy.
Road Trip Musts
Taking a few regular breaks every couple of hours will be your greatest help on a road trip. A good stretch can help alleviate the symptoms of decreased circulation or soreness in the joints. When you can, exit the vehicle and take a short walk around the parking lot or rest stop. Flex your ankles and toes, bend down to touch your toes and reach your arms into the sky.
Should you find yourself stuck in standstill traffic, don’t feel like your body is stuck, too. There are a few fast, easy exercises you can carry out behind the wheel – granted that your car is fully braked, parked, or not stalled in a risky area like an intersection.
- Shrug your shoulders and circle your arms to relieve the tension in your muscles
- Slowly contract and relax the multiple muscles groups in your back to give them a stretch
- Lift and hold your right leg from your seat and hold for ten seconds, then repeat for the left
- Point your toes down and rotate your foot from the ankle in a circle 10 times in each direction
Road Trip Packing List
It’s All in the Bag
You may be wondering what the ultimate solution is for those snack cravings you’re sure to be having while sitting shotgun during a lengthy road trip. You might also be curious about how you should keep yourself entertained should you end up stuck on a never-ending road, or how to stay energized when your co-pilot is taking a catnap. Luckily, the team at ChiroCare of Florida has rounded up our must-haves for healthy road trip snacks, pain-free accessories, and generally anything that can make life during a road trip more enjoyable. Toss all these in a bag and hit the road.
Healthy Road Trip Snacks
Healthy road trip snacks pack a major punch of protein to keep you going, but also the sugars and healthy fats you need to stay balanced. Not to mention, the best healthy road trip snacks will offer their fair share of water content. Here are a few of our favorite combos:
DIY Trail Mix: Let’s face it, plain nuts can be a bit bland. For an affordable and protein-packed snack, toss together your favorite nuts with yogurt covered raisins, dried blueberries or cranberries, or other dried fruits like mandarin oranges.
Single-Serve Hummus: Buy your own single serve containers or portion out hummus into a small Tupperware. Toss in some fun dippers like celery, carrots, and pretzel rods for a quick treat. As an alternative, swap out the hummus for a nut butter and bring along sliced apples or low-fat crackers.
Popcorn: Easy to munch on-the-go and surprisingly low in calories, try a low-salt popcorn for a healthy road trip snack. Plus, popcorn can easily be mixed with the goodies you’ve included in your trail mix for a salty meets sweet flavor explosion.
Cheese Packs: Who doesn’t love cheese? Pick up single serving cheese wheels or sticks for a daily dose of calcium. Pair with apples or a low-fat crackers for a healthy and filling snack.
Dark Chocolate: You deserve at least one treat for all those hours on the road. Dark chocolate is surprisingly healthy, boasting health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease and offering a powerful dose of antioxidants.
Water, Water, Water: While water may not be a snack per say, staying hydrated is critical to staying healthy during a road trip. Aim to keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times on the road but also find other yummy ways to hydrate with fruits and veggies like watermelon and cucumber.
Make your life as easy as possible before you hit any bumps in the road – literally or figuratively. Stow some chiropractor approved accessories like a lumbar pillow or neck pillow to keep your spine balanced and pain-free. Wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing, as well as practical footwear.
Likewise, plan for the long hours ahead. Set up any must-see destinations ahead of time in apps like Google Maps, ensuring you won’t forget or lose track of where you’d like to stop. Make a playlist of your favorite jams, including some throwbacks and the hits that just make you want to burst out singing. On the other hand, consider also downloading any fun podcasts, stand-up comedy segments, or audio books you and any of your guests may enjoy. For the chiller moments, consider making a zen playlist for everyone to take a moment, unplug, and admire the sights ahead.
The Road Trip You’ve Been Waiting For
All the possible intimidating side effects of road tripping aside, long drives don’t have to leave you feeling sore and fatigued. The key is to cruise through your road trip safely and healthily. There are a few easy ways to prevent nagging aches and pains, and even the exhaustion that creeps in at the end of the drive. Really, it all starts before you’ve even left your own driveway.
A road trip might be just what the doctor ordered. Before you head off on the trip of a lifetime, make sure you have the road trip essentials that will make your trip one to remember - not regret. Happy travels, from ChiroCare of Florida!