Okay, Okay, I realize part 2 of this series is incredibly late in coming, but hopefully not EVERYONE has gone on their summer vacation already. This is also a really long post because I just don’t want to risk posting part 3 in October. Stick with me. Lots of good stuff if you just read to the end. Might want to grab a handful of almonds and a cup of tea before you get started….
Plan your meals. Alex is an amazing trip planner so I tapped his expertise. He planned our travel route and our meal stops. Some stretches of highway have absolutely no place to eat. Now I’m not saying you can’t be spontaneous and just go where the wind blows, but make sure you have supplies or your pickings may be slim. If you are heading to the airport, try to eat before you get there. Your options are a bit hairy once you hit that corridor lined with “food” stalls. If you get there and you are ravenous, dig into your snack bag and have some nuts and a gulp or two of water and wait a few minutes. Once your head stops spinning and your belly stops grumbling you can make a healthy choice. You know what to stay away from. Look for stuff you recognize as fresh food. Try to get a meal that balances your plate with mostly vegetables, a bit of lean protein and a good carb. Avoid fried, creamed, glazed things. You are about to board a plane. You’ll run the risk surprising your body with bad food after you’ve been good to your body for a while. Who wants that kind of a surprise on an airplane? This is also a good reason not to make bad food choices on a road trip where the sign almost always reads “next rest stop in 56 miles” when you need it NOW.
When choosing a place to eat, resist the urge to turn into any parking lot that holds a sign that flashes “all you can eat!” It should actually read “all you should NOT eat!” I don’t trust a sneeze guard. Having worked with young children for 10 years and having raised 3 kids ages 10 and 13 (the 13 year olds are twins –don’t worry, I can count to 3), nothing can contain a little person’s sneeze. I’ve tried to dodge them and it’s just futile so I have little faith in the 3 ft wide Plexiglas’ ability to “guard” any size sneezes. Also those steaming trays have been sitting for how long? Does much of it look like “real food”? We Americans are very big fans for getting our money’s worth at the cost of our health. Just because you paid $x for your buffet privileges does not mean you have to try to put the place out of business. I understand that cruises have incredible buffets 24/7 and that the cruises are lots of $$$. You’ll DIE trying to eat your money’s worth. If you honestly, honestly (if you say it twice you really mean it) have no choice but to belly up to the buffet, then minimize the damage. Put salad and veggies on your plate first. Watch your cheese, nuts, and dressing (reasonable amounts) or use vinegar and oil. Look for lean protein. So that means pass up the chicken fingers and fried chicken and go for the grilled, skinless chicken breast. You can do this. Make the choice. Encourage your family as well. If your kids are new to the concept of buffet dining then it’s your job to teach them how to do this. Take them to veggies first and put the protein and carb on the plate last. You must allow the kids to get one dessert! Get some fresh fruit to sit alongside the cakey, flakey, gooey thing. Stress that a little bit of a sweet treat, once in a while, is just fine. Decadent dessert is an exception and not the rule!
- MOVE! When we road trip, we go prepared. If you want to see a grown woman with her face pressed against the window mouthing “save me!” just cram us all into a car for 5 hours straight. We plan to stop somewhere- anywhere, every 2 hours or so. By that time someone- has to “do” something, is on someone’s side of the car, or is touching someone. We pack a jump rope, a blow up beach ball (deflated or it isn’t going to fit), a baseball and couple of mitts, and bubbles. These things can be used any place we stop and everyone in the family can use them. Wait…Alex can’t jump rope, but he does try. In fairness I can’t throw a baseball well so I guess we’re even. Thank goodness for bubbles. If you can, plan your trip to have lots of walking opportunities. You’ll see the sites at a slower pace and see things you would have surely missed while riding on the trolley, bus, boat thing. Plan activities that are actually active. Make sure you bring your snacks and water. You do not want to see the Kuhel family walking anywhere when we’re hungry or thirsty. It’s quite the spectacle and we rarely find ourselves in that position, but hang on to your ears when it does happen. It’s why I don’t glare at families when their children are having a melt-down. Those of us with children have all been THAT family. When you are at an airport, be a good little soldier and stay off the people movers. Okay, you can ride one, but that’s it! You’ll fall off the end anyway because you’ll be looking for your gate when the yellow warning strip comes. Save yourself the embarrassment and get your heart pumping for a different reason. Drag that overstuffed carry-on luggage all the way to the gate and you’ll get a mini workout in. Being stuck on a plane for hours on end can be miserable. Try and stretch every so often. Make nice with your seat mate if they are on the aisle. He or she is the gate keeper to your salvation when you need to stretch your legs. Drink lots of water. You’ll need it and it’ll be understandable when you have to ask to step over your airplane buddy yet again.
- Enjoy yourself. A lot of the tips I mentioned above will help minimize your stress level. You know your family and yourself. If you need to stop the car every single hour or someone is going to die…you better stop. If you only have one day at a destination then go ahead and ride the thingy so you can see it all. If you over indulge at one meal make sure it stops at one meal. Forgive yourself and then treat yourself well by making good choices going forward. There always seems to be that moment on the trip when all the stresses come to a head and you say something your parents yelled to you when you were the one in the backseat. My dad had a few original ones, but most of them were pretty universal. Pretty good for an immigrant from the Philippines. Two frequent favorites were “Don’t make me come back there” and “We are going home right now!” To avoid saying things you swore you’d never say when you became a parent, make sure to close your eyes and breathe. Take some time to observe your family enjoying the trip. Don’t over plan so you’re rushing, but don’t under plan so you’re bored. Find the balance. Play music. Turn off the music.
We all deserve a break from time to time. When we leave the safety of our home to go on an adventure, we should take our healthy lifestyle with us. Maybe sometime in the future the world will make it easy for us. Until then we need to make living well easy for ourselves. Be prepared and the fear of bad choice making will leave you. Go out and get a few more bumper stickers, bad t-shirts, useless magnets, and miniature spoons (never understood those) to add to those growing collections. You deserve it! Just make sure you pass up that cart serving overloaded waffle cones on the walk up the hill to the shop. You are supposed to be collecting junk not pounds.
Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel