A life lived authentically is priceless. What could fuel this sentiment better than taking a XC road trip with frequent use of your backpacking gear? Lets face it, we live in a time and age where true adventure is getting harder to experience. The classic ‘American Road Trip’ has become a thing of the past. So it’s time to bring it back and create new, life-long memories that will provide the back-to-nature experience and adventure that is absent in most people’s lives. There is a true richness to traversing the land one mile at a time. So much natural beauty is right before us waiting to be explored.
What stirs your soul when you see natural beauty? A backcountry hike with rugged terrain? Fastpacking up the side of a mountain? Enjoying a cup of cowboy coffee on the trail first thing in the morning? What about the refraction of sunlight through a forest or morning fog rolling over a river? Experience all of your passions by including backpacking adventures along side your road trip.
My last road trip experience was forever incredible. After living out of our backpacks in France for 12 days, my husband and I flew to Michigan and then drove the 2,351 miles back to Washington. We took advantage of all the natural beauty we possibly could. I encourage anyone who loves life to live adventurously and start creating new, unforgettable memories and take a XC road trip, gearhead style!
Here are some helpful and healthy tips to maintain the zeal while taking advantage of the backcountry and capitalizing on nature sights along the ride.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Map out where you want to go, and create your bucket list.
- Have a plan, but a loose one. With all of the towns and cities you will be passing through, it’s to your advantage to make goals on what you want to experience along the way. At the same time, allow for “accidental finds” as these tend to be the best. Some great resources to check out include: www.roadtrippers.com, www.rootsrated.com, and www.nps.gov.
- Even with unlimited technology today, it’s smart to bring a detailed road map and a good guidebook along with your GPS. (Makes a great journaling tool, too)
- Join a roadside rescue service. Nobody ever plans on getting stranded, but it happens. Plan safe and have an 800# that immediately ties you in to approved local tow services and shields you from some of the dangers of the road.
- Supplement your cell phone with a phone card. Cell service is never completely reliable when you are deep in nature. You may need to make a phone call from a small grocery store or gas station that only has a landline.
- Travel Documents. Make sure you are up to date on car insurance records & registration as well as driver’s license (and passport/nexus pass if crossing borders).
- Consider satellite radio for traffic information, as often the local stations are scarce.
- Get your car serviced and checked out.
Pack the Necessary Gear
- Gear for the car: You never know when your car could break down, so prepare for both heat and cold. Also, bring trash bags, paper towels, extra fuel, window washer fluid, etc.
- Gear for sleeping: you may camp, sleep in your car or find a motel along the way, so prepare for it all. To prevent the unplanned bivouac, bring an inflatable mattress pad, pillow and blanket.
- Your favorite gear for backpacking
- First-aid kit
- Necessities: Usually when you need a washroom, you can’t find one, so be prepared and pack toiletries and respect the environment at the same time. Good resource to checkout: The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
Food for Fueling & Nourishment: What to pack
Although you may be tempted to stop at a gas station or diner for the typical road trip junk food, plan ahead and bring your own food– mainly from plants. Why?
Eating mostly plant-based foods provide the following benefits:
- Plant-Based foods travel better (most keep well without refrigeration)
- Plant based foods provide more useable energy
- They are easily digested and assimilated (additional energy by means of an increase in net gain)
- They help keep your blood sugar regulated
- Plant-based foods help you conserve energy
- They’re already in useable form, meaning the body doesn’t have to expend a lot of energy digesting SO it can conserve energy for other functions.
- AVOID highly processed, refined foods as they have “empty” calories and little nutrition. These foods require significantly more digestive energy to break them down.
- Plant-based foods will help you sleep better
- Nutrient-dense, whole food reduces stress and improves cortisol levels driving better quality of sleep.
- Plant-based foods are chock full of vitamins, nutrients and minerals
- Scope out the local farmer’s markets if you are traveling during peak seasons
- Great site to reference: www.localharvest.com
- They taste fantastic!
Also, you never know when you will go hundreds of miles driving then stop for a 2-hour hike, so being prepared with all of your nutritional needs will not only keep you energized, but will also eliminate the stress of “food searching” when you’re starving.
Ideas on what to pack:
- Bring a few full water bottles and a few gallons of water to refill.
- Coconut water— Great for hydration and a natural electrolyte source
- Slice & pack limes and lemons to add to water. If you want to make your own lemonade, bring stevia as well. Avoid soda if you can, as it can easily dehydrate you.
Fresh Fruit and Veggies
Vitamin C sources: keep your immune system rocking along the entire way!
- Cherries: one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits offering the body a wide range of health benefits. They also help reduce muscle pain as they have a natural anti-inflammatory component.
- Bananas: loaded with potassium, vitamin B6 and the ability to re-stock the body with electrolytes. The perfect go-to snack. In addition to their fueling power, they help regulate blood sugar and digestion.
- Blueberries: rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Also full of fiber, vitamin K and vitamin C.
- Tomatoes: A fruit with seeds that is also a powerhouse. One of the best fruits for refueling the body. High in vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
- Citrus: energizes the body quickly and keeps the immune system in working order. All a great source of fiber, calcium, potassium, folate and vitamin B.
- Nuts (unprocessed best)
- Nut butters
- Seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin)
- Avocados (eat with a spoon)
- Coconut oil (great on crackers)
- Beans (purchase boxed vs. canned)
- Lentils (Trader Joe’s sell them pre-cooked and taste great out of the package)
- Hemp Seeds, a complete protein (or hemp protein powder to mix with water for smoothie)
Whole Grains & Pseudo-Grains (high in protein, fiber and lower glycemic index; rich in vitamins and minerals and incredibly easy to digest, absorb and assimilate)
- Brown rice & quinoa (both can be purchased pre-cooked and vacuumed packed)
- Sprouted Wheat or Brown Rice Tortilla Shells (perfect for peanut butter and banana/blueberry wrap)
Bars, Snacks and Convenient Fueling: pack plenty of these; they are a perfect go-to when you need healthy fuel with convenience. Some great nutrient-dense choices containing few ingredients include:
- Whole-grain/brown rice tortillas with natural nut butter
- Hemp seeds
- Homemade granola
- Homemade trail mix
- Raw nuts
- Bars: Go Raw, Kit’s Organic, Pure Bar, Vega, Larabar, Nii Bars, Go Macro, Health Warrior Chia Bar, Pro Bar Meal, Green Superfood Bars
- Excellent superfood brands that are packaged for convenience include: Natera from Naturally Splendid, Nativas Naturals and Hemp Hearts from Manitoba Harvest.
Words of wisdom
- Journal as much as possible
- Take lots of pictures
- Take notes of your favorite songs that play along this journey, as they will forever be associated with your amazing trip.
Get off the highways when you can and enjoy the abundant beauty and stunning views
Unless you have a specific destination and a strict schedule, there is little point in hitting the road to see gorgeous country if you don’t spend some time driving up back roads and trekking the backcountry.