Meals on the Go – Balance on Family Vacations

by Together Counts Partner | August 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm | comments

Summer vacation is a time to relax and revitalize while enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of new places. When it comes to maintaining a healthful eating plan, consider ways your family can enjoy new foods that come with the traveling experience without worrying about excess calories.

So How Do You Do It?

  • Sample small amounts of high-calorie foods. You don’t have to avoid these foods entirely, just reduce the amount you eat to a few bites. You can still enjoy all the foods you love, but be mindful of how much you’re consuming.
  • Share large portions. Many restaurants serve large portions, so don’t hesitate to split orders. You can also ask for a to-go box when your meal is served and immediately put away half to help moderate your portions.
  • Space meals throughout the day. It can be easy to “graze” while on vacation. Try to set meal times and stick to them.
  • Engage in physical activity. Explore new sights by foot, walk along the beach or take advantage of vacation spots that offer amenities like tennis courts and volleyball nets. Biking is another active way to catch the sites of a new town.

If a road trip is part of the vacation plan, preparing snacks is a great way to maintain balanced eating. Packing snacks and beverages is an alternative to frequent stops at fast food chains and convenient stores that may not offer the foods  you want.

  • Pack a cooler with refrigerated snacks and beverages. Include fresh fruits and veggies like broccoli florets, carrot sticks and apple and orange slices. Be sure to keep refrigerated snacks in a cooler with temperatures remaining at or below 40°F.
  • Bring re-sealable snacks. Pack boxes of raisins and re-sealable pouches of dried fruit like apricots. Dried cereal, crackers and low-fat cookies also make easy-to-transport snacks that can last throughout your trip.
  • Pack a lunch. Deli sandwiches, yogurt and low-fat cheese make a wholesome road meal. Store lunch bags in the back seat versus the trunk to keep food fresh, and pack moist towelettes or hand sanitizer for an easy cleanup.
  • Take driving breaks. Get out of the car every hour or two to take a short walk and stretch your legs. These stops will help you keep more alert and will give the kids the chance to expel some energy.

What tips do you have that make family vacations a cinch? Share with us in the comments below!

Registered Dietitian members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wrote this post for Together Counts on behalf of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For tips, articles, recipes, and videos designed to help busy families shop smart, cook healthy, and eat right, visit: All content is contributed by Registered Dietitian members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—the nutrition experts.