Here’s your Memorial Day weekend road trip survival guide

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend, a time when so many of us will throw our things in the back of the car and head to the beach or the mountains or wherever in search of vacation bliss. But how to find a way to spend hours in the passenger or driver’s seat without feeling pretty gnarly when you get there? Our reader Kelsey McLaughlin explains… 

Would Geena Davis have romanced Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise if she’d been running on three straight days of highway Taco Bell? Probably not. It’s so hard to stay healthy on a road trip. Interstates are littered with fast food chains and travel takes a toll on your body. However, there are ways you can manage to stay healthy and prevent your car from becoming a french fry induced fart factory. Here are a few tips and guidelines so you can stay sprightly like a high school grad a la Crossroads and avoid things going all Planes, Trains and Automobiles,

Pre-pack your snacks for maximum deliciousness

Before skipping town, stock up on your favorite healthy (and not-so-healthy) snacks at your grocery store. This will prevent you from buying unhealthy foods during pit stops that you’ll regret. Remember in Sideways when Paul Giamatti dumped his prized wine into a styrofoam cup and paired it with onion rings? Maybe he wouldn’t have been so “hangry” had he packed some Trader Joe’s Trek Mix. Word of advice from a frequent traveler: If you see a fruits and veggies stand on the road or at a stop, buy some! It could be miles, hours, or states before you see another fresh food again.

Take care of your precious skin

 Long car rides suck the moisture right out of your skin. Be kind to your body’s largest organ by having chapstick, body lotion AND face lotion with SPF at the ready. Road trips are filled with spontaneous, unpredictable schemes, be it counting cards in Las Vegas Rain Man-style or competing in a karaoke contest like the gals of Crossroads (did you really think I’d only reference this movie once?). Stay looking your best for any public forays by preventing all the skin damage that road trips can cause.

Download podcasts/have your playlists all ready

Many people fantasize about Jack Kerouac-esque trips across the country, brimming with friends, lovers and charismatic strangers like in “On The Road.” Sorry to break it to you, but parts of your trip are going to be straight up boring. Podcasts are a perfect way to pass time and stay engaged so your mind doesn’t turn to mush from too much Top 40 Radio. You need to stay sharp for when you do encounter new people and places, and so you don’t get in an accident of course! I recommend The Moth and RISK!. They are both great storytelling podcasts that span from hilarious to heart-breaking, so your focus will vary.

Indulge in some of those not-so-healthy snacks too

Woody Harrelson was in tip-top fighting shape in Zombieland but searched far and wide for a Twinkie, risking his own safety for one plastic-wrapped, cream-filled, mass-produced confection. Nothing, not even the living dead, can stop a food craving. Choose your top fast food indulgence and go nuts. Chances are it will make you feel crappy enough to deter you from future stops. Depending on how far you’re traveling, you may need to do this more than once. No shame.

Take a break from the car and go move around sometimes!

What we’ve learned from classic road trip movies is that you’ve gotta stay on your toes. Take Little Miss Sunshine. Though the family was gunning it across the states for a beauty pageant, their trip was less than glamorous, having to physically push their Volkswagen to a start and then run into the vehicle. Take care of your body out there. Stretch it out during every stop and download exercise routines that you can do in your hotel room. JEFIT, FitStar and even Youtube are great. Do these easy workouts and you’ll be ready for anything on the road, whether it be running from the law or running into a handsome stranger.

In the famous words of Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation, “Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun.” Summer is just around the corner and it’s the perfect time to grab your pals and ditch your regular life for a far off destination. Hopefully these tips will help you stay physically and mentally healthy so that not a moment of your trip is wasted. Wishing you safe and healthy travels so jam-packed with fun that you’re inspired to write the next great road trip movie.

Kelsey McLaughlin is a writer and comedian in New York City. Her work has been featured on Comedy Central, FX and more. You can catch her performing around the country in her improv trio Future Wives or watch videos she’s written and acted in here. Keep up with her by following on Twitter.

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