Published on June 23rd, 2014 | by Jordan

7 Fun Ways to Stay Active on Your Family Road Trip

Today’s post comes to us care of lifestyle writer and fitness enthusiast Catherine Cameron. A healthy lifestyle activist and mother of two, her great ideas and insights can help make any road trip more memorable, fun and active. Thanks Catherine!

The bags are loaded, the cooler’s packed, the kids are buckled up, and even Fido’s along for the ride. Family road trips, complete with their highs (fantastic scenery and wildlife sightings) and lows (flat tires and car-sick kids) are full of opportunity for fun, bonding, and adventure. Whether we’re packing the car for a weekend in cottage country or embarking on a multi-week road trip as we are this summer, my packing list always includes a sense of adventure, a sense of humour, and takes into account the importance of breaking up long periods of sedentary time on the road.

In fact, with only 5% of Canadian children active enough to meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, and only half of their parents considered active enough for health benefits, it’s more important than ever that we make time for active breaks and play. As a family that loves water sports as well as walking, tennis, hiking, running, cycling and exploring, active fun is always a big part of our vacations. But since getting there is half the fun, I thought I’d share tips to help you add some active breaks to your travels and create some memories along the way.

  1. Plan ahead and book campgrounds, motels and hotels with swimming pools, putting greens, access to lakes, hiking trails, gyms, and amenities the whole family will enjoy.
  2. While en-route, plan to stop every hour-and-a-half to two hours, even for just 10 minutes. Use these breaks to walk, stretch, kick a soccer ball around, or play some Frisbee. Since not all rest stops offer safe, grassy areas, do a little research before you hit the road to identify good spots to stop. We often pull right off the highway and look for schools or parks where we can make use of their playgrounds and playing fields.
  3. Pack a picnic and plan a longer stop to give everyone a longer break to refuel and recharge with some active play. Provincial parks are ideal choices where you’ll often find picnic tables, clean washrooms and hiking trails.
  4. Stopping only for a bathroom break? Park as far from the restroom as you can so that you’ll be forced to take as many steps as possible. Get everyone out of the car for some jumping jacks, stretches or jump rope.
  5. Stopping by a lake or at a provincial park with a beach? Plan ahead and make sure swimsuits, sunscreen, towels and water toys are easily accessible. Nothing promotes relaxation and cools down a group of restless kids like making a splash!
  6. When loading the car, pack some toys and equipment to promote active play. Even with a packed car, it’s easy to slide badminton racquets under the seats, to throw in an inflatable beach ball or a jump rope, or to lay hula hoops on top of all your gear.
  7. Happily, we’ve captured most of our travels on camera and often look back and reminisce on our adventures and our many misadventures. Hand the camera over to the kids and put them in charge of photos for the family album. You’ll find that doing so will keep them busier in and out of the car and inspire active fun and a sense of adventure.

Wherever you’re heading this summer, remember the importance of active play along the way and at your destination.  It keeps us young in body and spirit and fosters a lifelong sense of adventure.

Catherine is a senior communications professional who divides her time between her two passions: communications and organizational management, and fitness, health and wellness. As a trainer, and having led fitness classes for over 25 years, Catherine believes in role modeling an active, healthy lifestyle for her two daughters and all Canadians as she done for many years in her work with ParticipACTION. To learn more or to contact Catherine, please visit or follow her on Twitter @cate_cameron.

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