Summertime travel is a wonderful thing to experience for creating lifetime memories, whether you’re visiting a beloved family vacation spot or exploring new destinations. If you’re pregnant and/or traveling with children, it can be challenging to put the focus on healthy eating while on the run.
That’s why, as a Certified Nurse Midwife, I always suggest to patients that the first thing to put on any packing list is “healthy snacking”—so even if you’re stuck in the airport (or on the tarmac) waiting for a delayed flight or trapped on a train or in a car for an extended period, your tank will be full of good stuff to sustain you during the journey.
Planning ahead has two bonuses: You’ll be less stressed and better prepared when your own hunger pangs strike or when you need to feed hungry mouths. Eating whole-grain crackers and cheese, fresh fruit and trail mix will help you avoid the temptation of grabbing fast food, gulping sugar drinks and eating nutrition-empty gas station fare. So go the distance this summer and pack for healthy (and satisfying) travel.
Traveling safe during the summer is more than just about dumping the junk food—it’s about common sense when you’re swimming and boating and lounging in the sun, too.
Tip 1: Pack a picnic-on-the-go for road trips. Include bottled water, sugar-free fruit and vegetable juices, whole-grain crackers, single-serving cheeses (mini BabyBels are a good choice) and lots of fresh fruit and precut veggies. Include a carton of hummus for healthy dipping and some trail mix and protein bars and you’ve created a private dining car full of food that will give you energy (and save you calories and money). When your stash is running low and you’re in a car, simply visit the next grocery store on your route to restock.
Tip 2: When you arrive at your destination, make sure healthy eating is still a priority—and squeeze in several small snack sessions throughout the day. If you’re pregnant, avoid foods high in sodium for a number of reasons—including lessening the chance of water retention and puffiness. Try and keep yourself and children in tow on a regular eating schedule.
Tip 3: If you’re traveling to a foreign country with questionable water sanitation, don’t drink the water. However, if you do develop traveler’s diarrhea, hydrate with safe water and, if you’re pregnant, don’t immediately reach for an over-the-counter medication—many of which aren’t recommended for women during pregnancy. Consult with your healthcare practitioner back home for advice as soon as you can.
Tip 4: Avoid street food in many foreign countries. You’ll be tempted to sample a samosa from a cart in India or a taco from a truck in Playa del Carmen—but don’t, unless you want to risk tummy trouble. But throw some rules out the window, too—if you’re in Italy, by all means indulge in a vendor selling gelato.
Tip 5: If you’re going on a vacation where fun in the sun is on your itinerary, make sure you tote along sunscreen (and apply liberally, especially after taking a dip in the pool, lake or ocean) and drink plenty of water. Wear a hat and cover-up and lightweight and light-colored clothing and time toddlers and kids’ direct exposure to UV rays. Immediately seek emergency assistance or go to an emergency room if you or a member of your entourage exhibits symptoms of heat exhaustion (precursor to heat stroke) such as confusion, dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration), dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle or abdominal cramps, and nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Tip 6: Stagger activity. If you’re pregnant, be sure to get adequate rest. If you’re traveling with kids, plan a day full of activity followed by one where you all chill. Tired, fussy children are no fun for anyone—especially away from familiar surroundings and routines.
Tip 7: Pack a good travel emergency kit—including any medicines you or your family member takes, ointments, thermometer, aspirin, Band-Aids, etc. Your motto as a mom on vacation: Be prepared.