What Not to Eat on a Road Trip

Nobody has ever asked me what not to eat on a road trip. But it's good to know because there are a lot of disgusting gas station bathrooms out there.

What you put in your body during your road trip is of the utmost importance - and what you don't put in your body is just as important. Why? Because long-distance driving is like a sport. In fact, it technically is a sport; they do show NASCAR highlights on ESPN. Like any athlete, you need to keep your mind and body working at their best so that you can reach your goal (Motel 6) in record time.

Six Tips on What Not to Eat on a Road Trip

There's no single food or category of food that's absolutely wrong to consume on a road trip. But we do have several general guidelines on what not to eat on a road trip:

  • Foods you've never eaten before. When you're out on the open road exploring new parts of the country, it's tempting to try some of the unique local specialties.

    Trouble is, if you've never eaten a particular food before, you don't know exactly how it will affect your digestive tract and your brain over the next few hours.

    If you really want to be adventurous in what you eat, do so after you've stopped for the night. At least you'll have the night hours to recover if something doesn't agree with you.
  • "Iffy" foods. Got a sandwich on the passenger seat that's been there just a little too long, and you're not sure if the mayo is turning?

    A hard-boiled egg that smells slightly “off”? A carton of milk that's a bit warm? Don't risk it. You may be setting yourself up for a highly unpleasant (and time-consuming) bathroom stop. Better to waste a few dollars' worth of food than to make yourself sick.
  • Too much of anything. Road trips are (ideally) vacations, and vacations are a time for enjoying big, delicious meals. But again, driving is a complex physical and mental activity, and you won't be at your best in mind or body if you bog yourself down with gigantic meals.

    Eat relatively light, relatively nutritious meals during the driving hours of your day. You'll avoid that groggy, nappy feeling that can put you and your passengers at risk.
  • Anything super-salty. Being thirsty on the road can be a huge distraction. The more you have to reach down to your cup holder, the less attention you'll be paying to the road. Plus, who wants to keep paying $2 for bottled water at mini-marts?

  • Anything super-spicy. This is similar to the concern about salt, but with a bonus: spicy food can do a number on your digestive system, too. 

  • Loads of sugar. Go ahead, have dessert. Just don't have three desserts at once. Every sugar high will be followed by a sugar low, leaving you in no mood to concentrate on your driving or negotiate a traffic jam.

As you can see, it's not that difficult to remember what not to eat on a road trip. Much of it boils down to moderation and common sense. If we've saved you from even one regrettable rest stop, we've done our job. 

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What Not to Eat on a Road Trip