Don’t forget to drink at least eight cups a day, even on the road.
The most important part of your road trip menu isn’t a food item at all. Staying hydrated is a crucial component of any successful trip, and your choice of beverage says a lot about the character of your trip.
Plain old water is, of course, the simplest and cheapest way to keep yourself hydrated. Sipping ice-cold water as you cruise is not only a refreshingly sweet experience, it will keep you awake, alert, and comfortable. As an added bonus, you can top off your bottle at pretty much every gas station and burger joint in the country. You can complicate water, of course, by purchasing carbonated, mineral, and/or flavored varieties, or by adding your own drink powder or flavoring agents. Sometimes, however, simplest is best.
Health-conscious drivers can use beverages as a way to keep up their fruit and vegetable consumption during the trip. Most roadside eateries and refueling stations are notoriously light on fresh produce, and packing your own liquid nutrition will alleviate the worst of the problem. This approach has drawbacks, though. Real 100 percent juice tends to be quite pricey, and usually requires refrigeration to avoid spoilage.
There are a billion sport/soft drinks to choose from, if that is your preference. You can recreate all those cheesy cola ads, try a sampler of specialty sodas, or just sip on an old favorite. Most beverages in this category are incredibly sugary and are best enjoyed sparingly. Even if you aren’t exactly observing the world’s healthiest diet, you could easily drink thousands of calories a day if you hit up the fountain drinks at every gas station.
Special mention goes to caffeinated beverages and energy drinks of all kinds. Sometimes you just need a couple more hours on the road to hit your destination. These liquid pick-me-ups offer the wakefulness and gumption you might need to cross the finish line, but their power is limited. Even the most powerful stimulants are going to run dry in a matter of hours, and many come with a dramatic crash. Make sure that your caffeine crash doesn’t turn into a high-speed crash by closely monitoring your energy levels. Pull over if you can’t stay wide awake and fully alert.