Are you figuring out how to spend your summer? When you think about family vacations or summer day trips, you probably think about indulgence. Hours lounging by the pool. Stops at a roadside ice cream stand. Pizza for dinner in the hotel room. Out and about sampling the gourmet hot spots. Or maybe even swinging through the drive-through to pick up chicken nuggets for the hungry, exhausted kids.
But what if you’d rather take a trip that supports your healthy lifestyle? Here are six ideas that that will help you do just that.
Camping is the ultimate summer family adventure – and with all that time in the great outdoors, physical activity is built right into your getaway. Plan hikes around your campground. If it’s got a pool, put a swim diaper on your baby and take a dip to cool off. Let your kids make friends with other campers and watch them ride their bikes around the loop for hours on end.
And even though s’mores tend to go hand-in-hand with camping, you can still keep the food choices fresh and healthy. Toss some veggies on the grill or try out some fun new campfire meals.
2. BERRY PICKING
Berry picking is a healthy activity that’s fun for the whole family. Find a u-pick farm near you to make this happen. Parents can fill their containers with strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries while kids hide amongst the bushes and sample nearly as much fruit as they toss into their buckets. Even better, the deliciousness will follow you home as you get to enjoy your pickings for days and weeks afterward.
3. SERVICE PROJECT OR SERVICE TRIP
When you think of being healthy, you probably think about your physical condition. But what about your spiritual condition? There’s nothing as gratifying as the feeling that you are doing good and helping other people—and it’s so good for your kids to get hooked on that feeling early in their life. Turn your family trip into a life-changing service experience by helping those less fortunate. Whether it’s a day spent in an urban soup kitchen or a week repairing a third-world orphanage, think outside the box when planning your next family trip. It will be less focused on personal indulgence and more about helping to meet the basic needs of others.
4. FAMILY SUMMER CAMP EXPERIENCE
Want to exchange your low-key camping trip into a legitimate vacation? Go to a family summer camp! Located throughout the country, these facilities offer a “sleepaway camp” experience for the whole family to enjoy together. Enjoy ropes courses, canoeing, lawn games, and all the fun that the outdoors has to offer – and mom, you don’t even have to plan it. It’s all done for you.
5. BEACH DAY TRIP
Pack your cooler box, sunscreen and beach tent; it’s time for one of the healthiest family favorites. Do you ever notice how sore your muscles are the day after walking on the sand? A beach day is a fabulous way to make memorable family fun while also sneaking in fitness. Dig in the sand, walk on the beach, swim in the water, and throw a frisbee or play volleyball by the water. You and your kids will wear your bodies out and come home happily spent.
Make sure you keep your goal of a healthy lifestyle at the forefront and pre-pack a healthy lunch to take along with you. Think fresh sandwiches with whole grains, a veggie tray with hummus, and lots of fruit. And don’t forget to pack water to stay healthy and hydrated, so you’re not tempted by the snow-cones available at the wandering food cart.
6. AMUSEMENT PARK
Can time at an amusement park really be healthy? You bet! The amount of walking you’ll do around the park will be astounding; clipping on a pedometer will prove it. And while it’s pretty easy to make poor food choices at an amusement park with the smell of donuts, ice cream, and nachos wafting through the air, most these days offer plenty of fresh, healthy, family-friendly options.
To keep your family health goals on track, do your research before you go. See if the park allows you to bring your own food and snacks—and if they do, pack them. If you find that you’ll need to eat onsite, see which restaurants have healthy options—and if you can, make a reservation at one in advance, so your plans aren’t sidelined when you find it has a one-hour wait time.
MAKE THIS SUMMER THE BEST ONE YET
It’s entirely possible to maintain your family’s healthy lifestyle while traveling in the summer. Just make sure you choose locations that will keep your family active throughout the day and plan your meals and snacks in advance. When you come back home, you’ll not only appreciate the memories you made but also feel good about keeping your family’s health on track.
Jenny Silverstone is a mother of two, a breastfeeding advocate and a lover of the great outdoors. When she isn’t trying to get her kids off their screens and out in the yard, you can find her blogging about her experiences of being a parent at Mom Loves Best.