Spring breaks are happening soon, many of them this very month. That means a lot of families will be on the road soon, mine included. Personally, I am enjoying road trips more and more as my children get older. That said, it is always a challenge to stick to our green living lifestyle while on the go. Here are 29 tips for a green family road trip, that I have learned along the way.
Elements of a Green Family Road Trip
Eating on the road is, of course, a huge piece that can be especially challenging. I like to place an order at Thrive Market.com, prior to embarking on our trip. They have a wide selection of healthy non-perishables and other products that I can trust to be safe and sustainable. Keep reading to learn some of my favorite portable products that can be purchased at Thrive.
When it’s time to stock the fridge at your destination, here is a list of stores with clean, green options. They will vary depending upon where you are, but you can almost always find at least one of these food sources nearby.
- Albertson’s/Vans – Look for the “O Organics” store brand.
- Aldi – A complete list of organic options here.
- Costco – Excellent for purchasing for large family gatherings; products offered change often, but here is a list of ideas.
- Fresh Thyme – This midwestern chain , though not entirely organic, does offer some amazing healthy products; they also have an awesome bulk groceries selection.
- Kroger – This grocery chain can be found in some form (Bakers, Dillons, Ralph’s, Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, QFC, Food for Less) all over the country. They generally include many organic options. Don’t forget about their ClickList option where you can schedule curbside delivery!
- MOM’s Organic Market – This is a very cool option for green mama food buying over on the east coast. Not only do they sell only non-toxic products that are safe for your family, but they also provide a bin where you can drop off your compost.
- Natural Grocers – This is an awesome health food store with toxin-free and sustainable products;they even have a place where you can bottle your own reverse-osmosis filtered water.
- New Seasons Market – These stores can only be found in the Pacific Northwest;their focus is healthy food from local sources.
- Publix – This chain is focused in the southeastern part of the U.S.;they carry an organic brand called GreenWise.
- Safeway – Like Albertsons, Safeway carries the brand, “O Organics.”
- Sprouts – Another great healthfood grocery chain; you will find plenty of green options here!
- Super Target – Their selection can be a little limited, but look for their Simply Balanced label. These stores can be found all over the country, but it must be a “Super” Target to include groceries.
- Trader Joe’s – Like many, I have always loved shopping at these stores due to their affordable prices and unique grocery options. You do have to be careful though and shop the organic, because not everything is healthy in here. They do have a lot of great convenience items for travelling, though!
- Wegman’s – These stores are limited to the east coast cities. If it’s located at your destination though, they offer a large variety of options, many of them organic. They have introduced a lot of plant-forward products AND they have curbside delivery!
- Whole Foods – This healthfood chain is notoriously pricey; however, they do offer an amazing selection if you are looking for something that is hard to find in a conventional store. They also have a more economical brand called 365.
Following are some healthy ways in which you can fill them:
Having access to filtered drinking water is pretty high on my list. If you already own a good water filtering system at home, you can simply fill some containers you already have on hand (i.e. milk jugs, pitchers, etc). If you will be travelling near a Natural Grocer or other store offering filtered water in bulk, you can refill your containers as needed. You will likely find your family’s watering needs to be excessive, so bringing along a portable filtering system such as the small Berkey or a more thorough filtering pitcher may be a more stress-free route.
There are a few ways to travel and drink toxin-free, sustainable coffee. You could brew it up in bulk and store it in your reusable containers for reheating or making iced coffees at your destination. Or, if the coffee snob in you doesn’t sit well with that, you could grind up some of your beans at home. You can then use the grinds (along with a reusable filter) in your hotel’s coffee pot or your own toxin-free version!Read about all the toxins involved in conventional coffee brewing.
Due to the plastics found in most tea bags, I would highly recommend that you bring your own loose leaf version. Try to use filtered water (see above) and stainless steel/glass containers when preparing and drinking it.
I like to do a little fresh juicing before we get on the road. That way I can throw it in a thermos and we can all drink a little while we’re gone to stave away illness.
My preference is always a clean, sustainable quality bottle of wine like this one from Thrive Market. Bring your favorite stainless steel tumbler along, and you can enjoy 100% toxin-free wine drinking hundreds of miles from home!
Just like at home, all my kids seem to want to do is eat when we’re on the road. All those gas station potty stops mean lots of sugary temptations and battles. That’s why it’s so important to bring the healthy snacks along that they love. Here are some of our faves:
Trail mix can be such a nutrition-filled snack, especially when you put it together yourself with ingredients at home. It’s also so portable for this very purpose. Some of my favorite ingredients to throw into the mix include any variety of nuts, dried fruits, coconut, seeds, and dark chocolate.
Here is a link to a great guide by The Healthy Maven on putting together your own healthy trail mix.
It’s always important to have fresh, organic produce around–and road trips are no exception. In fact, am expecting a big delivery of fruits, veggies and organic convenience foods today. If you haven’t signed up for Imperfect Foods yet, check them out!
Smoothies are one of our go-tos for packing in the nutrition. They can be challenging to incorporate when travelling. That is, unless you have a portable mixer. Personally, I like to fill my kids’ reusable travel cups with homemade smoothies, just as we are taking off. Gives them a healthy start on our journey, and a better experience for all.
Obviously, convenience stops for gas and pottying don’t tend to offer the healthiest selection. If you look carefully, however, you may be able to find a few passable items to get you by. When you can find organic or non-gmo verified, go for it. More often than not, however, you will have to settle for some pesticide residue in this dire situation. Yeah, I know…yuck.
When it comes to meal time, you are likely going to want quick and easy–I mean, you are on vacation. That said, the kitchens in a short-term rental make it easy to make use of your instantpot or slow cooker; if you choose to tote them along. Even in a space as limited as a hotel room, where there’s a will there’s a way!
Here is a great list of simple recipes for basic dinner builders such as chicken, potatoes, rice and taco meat that can be stretched into multiple healthy meal variations.
You have to really watch your ingredients lists, even when buying organic; but prepackaged meals can be an easy, healthy way to get dinner on the table on hectic days. Just make sure your accommodations provide a fridge, and then throw your perishable ingredients in a portable cooler. Following are some of my favorite ideas along these lines:
When you have access to an oven
Bake pizzas using an already-made crust, tomato sauce, fresh veggies and cheese (or cheese alternative).
When you have access to a stovetop
With just a microwave
When you find yourself without a complimentary breakfast, or the breakfast items provided aren’t suitable for your green family, here are a few awesome options from Sara Annis at Clean Living with Kids:
Time and resources do not always allow us to offer our families a homemade meal while travelling. If you are forced to eat out, here are some restaurants where it may be easier to eat to your healthy standards.
Don’t forget your immune-boosting supplements–travelling exposes your family to more germs and the exhausting nature can weaken the immune system, putting you more at risk.
Where you stay can have a huge effect on the environmental impact of your trip. Whether you choose an Airbnb, a hotel chain or a tent, here is a list of things to consider before booking:
Are recycling bins and/or curbside recycling available?
Will cleaning practices involve harsh chemicals?
What are their energy/water efficiency plans or practices?
Do they have a carbon offset program in place?
Do they support the local community, by offering local food in their restaurants, etc?
Do they hold of any of these green certifications?
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Once you’ve arrived at your destination, remember that some activities that you do for fun will be greener than others. Here is a list of options that will be kinder to our planet than others:
- Most Outdoor Activities
- Eco Tours
No matter where you go, keep these things in mind in order to adhere to a green family road trip:
- Support sustainable businesses
- Use public transit when available
- Bring along a zero waste kit
- Leave no Trace
What are your favorite tips for achieving a green family road trip?
Did you enjoy this post? Share with your friends who would love green family road trip ideas.