Rethink Your Road Trip: How to Stay Active and Healthy Along the Way

| 5 min read

Excited family on a road trip in car, rear passenger
*This post was updated August 4, 2021 with the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC on travel with considerations for COVID-19.
With some of the most notable attractions, gorgeous beaches and charming small towns in the nation, Michigan offers a lot of fun getaway options. And the summer is the perfect time to get behind the wheel and head to one of those destinations. In fact, road trips are becoming more and more popular for weekend getaways. AAA reports that more than 47 million Americans traveled by car this Fourth of July weekend alone, an increase of 40% over last year!
If you’re traveling this summer, keep in mind the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise delaying travel until individuals are fully vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 and to take extra precautions if you are not vaccinated. Do not travel if you were exposed to COVID-19, if you’re sick or if you either tested positive or waiting for test results for COVID-19.
Road trips are fun and memorable adventures. But they can also end up being pretty unhealthy thanks to fast food stops, cramped conditions and stress over traffic. The good news? There are plenty of easy tweaks that can make your next road trip the best (and healthiest!) yet.
Fuel Up with Fresh Food. There are plenty of easy tweaks that can make your next road trip the best (and healthiest!) yet.
When you’re on a highway, healthy food options can seem few and far between. But not so fast! Before your hunger sends you to the nearest drive-through, consider looking up better-for-you options. Head to Yelp or TripAdvisor and search for “healthy restaurants in ______” before you hit the road (put in a town that you’ll hit around mealtime). Here are three spots you might want to try:
  1. Jean Kay’s Pasties & Subs | Marquette, MI
If you’re headed to the UP, you’ll want to try a pasty. The dish, usually a mix of meat and vegetables wrapped in dough, can be found throughout the region. Just like the name suggests, Jean Kay’s Pasties is a favorite spot for this UP staple along with a selection of soups, sandwiches and salads. The menu includes vegetarian options. And customers rave about the restaurant’s homemade jalapeño ketchup.
  1. Detroit Vegan Soul | Detroit, MI
When your journey brings you through Detroit, Detroit Vegan Soul in a must-visit local eatery. Their “soul food made from whole food” includes snacks like black-eyed pea hummus, refreshing smoothies and an entire kid-friendly menu. With carryout available, you can get all this goodness and get back on the road in no time!
  1. The Good Earth Café | Holland, MI
The Good Earth Café is a quaint local favorite that’s the perfect stop for something wholesome, healthy and delicious. Their artisan breads are made there with natural ingredients—the perfect accompaniment to their many tasty sandwiches and soups.
Stretch Your Legs
Keeping your activity level up while spending hours and hours sitting in a car is no easy task. One of the easiest things to do is swing by rest stops every hour and walk around for 10 minutes. Or if you’re stuck in traffic, do some simple exercises in the car (head here to see how to do car-friendly bicep curls or seated calf raises). Looking for something a little more strenuous? Consider stopping on the way to try some of these activities:
  1. Kayaking: If the route to your destination takes you along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, there are plenty of places where you can rent a kayak, canoe or paddle board and get in the water for an hour or two.
  1. Hiking: Michigan is full of beautiful parks and walking trails that are just perfect for an activity break on a long road trip. For example, Aspen Park in Gaylord is right off of I-75.
  1. High Ropes Course: You and your kids are sure to shake off the effects of a long car ride with a fun and challenging high ropes course. The one at Wildwood Ranch in Howell is a great stop along M-59, perfect if you’re heading towards or away from Southeast Michigan on your trip.
Find Moments to Relax
Traffic, cranky kids and good old-fashioned Michigan road work can add lots of tension and stress to your road trip. Simple solutions like listening to a funny audio book or playing a game of “who can spot license plates from the most states” can help keep drivers and passengers calm and happy. But sometimes it takes more than in-car activities to keep your cool on the road. When you need a quick break, these easy-to-do roadside activities will do the trick:
  1. Plan a Picnic: If you brought your own snacks or picked up something tasty along the way, getting out of the car and into some fresh air for a laid-back picnic is a quick and easy option. Heading to Muskegon or Ludington?
  1. Visit a roadside attraction: Break up your drive with a quick stop at one of Michigan’s many roadside attractions. Need some suggestions? Check out the Stainless Steel Eagle Head in Alpena, the Yellow Dinosaurs in Bear Lake or the 12-Foot-Tall Ice Cream Cone in East Leroy.
  1. Enjoy a Sunset: As a long day of driving winds down, take a moment to appreciate the scenery along the way. You’ll be hard pressed to find a spot in Michigan that doesn’t boast a beautiful sunset, but the views on a roadside stop at any of these locations will have you speechless.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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