The car is packed, and the trip is planned. You’re all set for a road trip of summer fun. When it comes to long stretches in a vehicle, though, there can be quite a few roadblocks to health. Minimal opportunity to move and fast food-only dining options along the highway can throw even the most disciplined off track. We all know the feeling of cramped muscles, bloated belly, and general malaise that lingers when we finally tumble groggily from the car. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to health-ify your travel time. Try these tips for a feel-good trip!

A woman shades her eyes as she looks out of her car at the ocean

1. Snack (and drink) wisely. When confined in just a few cubic feet of space, whatever foods lie within arm’s reach are the ones you’ll grab — so it’s only common sense to bring along good-for-you choices. Smart snacks for the road might include fresh produce (easy-access pieces like carrot sticks, grapes, or blueberries are especially handy), dried fruit, whole grain crackers or granola bars, and nuts. And don’t forget the water! Even mild dehydration has been shown to lead to nearly as many errors on the road as drunk driving.

2. Make the car your gym. Okay, swinging your free weights may not be a viable option in an enclosed space, but there are some small exercises you can actually do, especially when you’re a passenger. Raising your calves with feet on the floor, squeezing your abs tight for 30-second stretches, or using your arms to lift your rear off the seat are just a few moves that get your blood flowing and your heart pumping just a little bit. These tiny reps can bring some much-needed physical refreshment and reduce the risk of developing travel-induced blood clots. (Just steer clear of arm circles, unless you feel your driver needs waking up.)

3. Let your mind wander. It’s no secret that road travel can get pretty boring. (“Are we there yet?”) As with many less-than-thrilling circumstances, it’s tempting to fill up time in the car with devices. But for your mental health, you may want to give your brain a hiatus. Letting the mind wander or daydream has been associated with numerous positive effects, from boosting memory to increasing creativity. Besides, assuming you’re on vacation, unplugging may be a welcome reprieve from all the responsibilities your phone represents.

A couple reads a map together while sitting in a pickup truck

4. Brake for breaks. If it’s taking you more than a few hours to reach your destination, some extra breaks aren’t likely to throw off your timeline. Give your a body and mind a reset by getting out frequently to stretch or take a brief walk. You’ll enjoy seeing more scenery up close when you do too.

5. Listen to an uplifting audiobook. There’s no time like a road trip to get the most out of an audiobook. The open road offers minimal distractions, giving you mental space to focus on whatever content you choose. Make it an uplifting self-help volume, if you like, or dive into a literary classic on a free app like LibriVox.

6. Grocery shop for your meals. Long stretches of highway aren’t exactly known for their culinary excellence. Instead, you’re likely to find a whole lot of fast food, with a few roadside diners thrown in for good measure. Still, if you’re somewhere with enough population for a restaurant, there’s likely a grocery store in the vicinity too. Putting together a meal on your own that includes fresh produce or even deli-made salads will most assuredly be better for you than anything a greasy spoon has to offer. Plus, grocery store dining will probably save money.

 7. Combat car sickness. Most of us end up feeling rather blah after hours in the car, but, for some, motion sickness is a more serious travel concern. Don’t let the twists and turns of rocky driving catch you off guard. Go prepared with a side-effect-free natural remedy like ginger pills. Using this inexpensive herb for nausea is no old wives’ tale — ginger has been scientifically proven to reduce the unpleasant effects of motion sickness. And unlike some other meds for nausea, ginger won’t leave you drowsy, so you can still drive after taking it. Likewise, if you’re feeling queasy but need to stay at the wheel, many people swear by Sea-Bands — wristbands that trigger an anti-nausea acupressure point.

How do you road-trip like a health pro? Tweet us at @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)

Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.