FOTR - Families on the RoadFOTR

Fitness on the Go

Is keeping fit possible when you live in an RV? Trying to create Gluten-Free meals while traveling? Can your kid be involved with team sports while you travel?

YES, with a bit of creative thinking, planning and determination.

Get bicycles, and use them whenever you can. Carry some small weights or AquaBells for arm work. Get a Fitbit,fitness app on your phone, and walk, walk, walk. The faster you go, the better. (An iPhone helps enormously!) Take advantage of the weight rooms and exercise facilities at many RV parks and resorts; use the pools, obstacle courses and playgrounds. You've got all the great outdoors at your disposal!

Eating Right

First, here are a few of my favorite online healthy recipe sources:

  • Gluten Free - Living For a limited time, you can subscribe to Gluten-Free Living and get 6 Issues & A Free Tote Bag for only $25!
  • Cooking Lite this site/magazine has a reputation for being a bit gourmet, but there are many recipes that are designed to be made in 30 minutes with easy to-find ingredients.
  • Menus For Moms a homeschooling friend of mine with 6 kids swears by this site to keep her sanity!
  • Aicr. org check out the rest of the site for cancer prevention and latest research on diet and cancer

Although it's tough to keep fresh veggies and fruits around with RV size fridges, you can be creative.

  • Buy grapes and strip them off their stems and put them in small reusable containers
  • Get the mini (or Dulcinea) watermelons, cut them up, and put them in containers
  • Cut up fresh veggies like red pepper, celery, carrots, radishes, etc. and store them in ice water in a cup or container
  • Tangerines are small as are kiwi, baby carrots and celery sticks
  • Buy the large broccoli and cut off the crowns; store in containers
  • Frozen fruits and veggies like peas, spinach boxes, blueberries, raspberries, mango, etc. don't take up much room in the freezer.
  • Buy frozen OJ and make it instead of those cartons that take up valuable fridge space. If there's any left over, you can store it in a reusable water bottle or small jug.
  • I really like those green bags you can buy in the produce section at large supermarkets that keep veggies fresh longer they do work
  • Canned fruits and vegetables are easy to store anywhere
  • Pre-made, bagged salads are worth the slight extra cost for a quick, easy salad

Families on the Road Healthy Eating Recommendations

Here are a few more ideas:

  • Make smoothies with frozen fruit, yogurt, OJ or pineapple juice and ice
  • Beans are healthy, inexpensive and easy to store. Make soup, dips, burritos, etc.
  • Try tofu (I like extra-firm); it works well in stir fry or pad thai (dip in egg white first for a nice crust, smoothies (instead of yogurt you'll never taste it), and even desserts (I have a great recipe for chocolate mousse using tofu)
  • Limit red meat to once or twice a week
  • Frozen fish and canned tuna are easy to store and make for quick meals
  • Limit desserts to once a week and make/buy something really special and worth the calories
  • Encourage your kids to help you prepare meals. Teach them how to read labels and make healthy choices
  • Buy chicken breasts on sale and freeze for a quick meal. We like to grill them with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and corn on the cob; you can also use them for chicken tacos, stir fry, etc.

Eating out:

  • Limit to once or twice a week
  • Order an appetizer instead of a big meal
  • Share meals with a family member
  • Tell your server to skip the bread, rolls, chips, etc.
  • Ask for lunch portions
  • Fast food places often offer healthy choices. McDonalds, Arbys, Subway, Wendy's, etc. all have great salads or healthy sandwiches
  • Pizza is cheap and not that bad for you if you order veggie or cheese (ask for light cheese), thin crust and limit yourself to 2 pieces

Many grocery stores have really increased their supply of organic foods. The cost has also come down quite a bit. Some Wal-Mart offer organics. I really like Safeway. Their "O" products are delicious and inexpensive. (I especially like the "O" milk and OJ. )

Another tip: Buy the local paper on Wednesdays. This is usually the day that new grocery ads come out. (You can ask the campground staff if this is true for your location. ) Look through the ads to help you decide where to shop for the foods you need. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper than those not in season.

One last thing: The best investment I have made for our family's health is a grain mill. It's relatively small and easy to store. I buy wheat, rye, millet, spelt, barley, corn, oats, etc. and throw them in the mill. Seconds later, I have freshly-milled flour, with all the nutrients intact. I make bread, muffins, pancakes, cookies, energy bars, etc. They taste unbelievably good. I bought my mill through a business in Georgia: You can also buy grain and other ingredients for healthy cooking. If you buy a mill from this company (about $200), they'll include a free cookbook.



Get involved in Geocaching. It is a great way to get out and see the area you are in and some of the hikes will have you panting away (like the one up 400 steps at Windy Ridge, Mt. St. Helens). A lot of the Geocache are in city parks, so you can walk around the parks after finding the cache. (A handheld GPS required to play).


Take advantage of playgrounds! You will find them at many campgrounds. Make a point of stopping at them when you travel. The kids will enjoy letting off some steam and finding playmates and mom and dad can do chin-ups on the monkey bars.

Cold weather? Head to the mall and walk. Many malls open their doors early for walkers.

Grab a frisbee or a kite and go play with the kids!

climbing rocks

For Families who like to Kick It Up a Notch

Sword Play - Make boffers from PVC pipe, foam and duct tape for the whole family. Then practice your defense moves with each other. See if you can choreograph a whole fighting routine. Guaranteed to turn heads!

Parkour- the art of moving thru an urban environment without letting anything get in your way. Bounce off trees, leap over tables, walk up walls, and clear benches with a single bound. A big hit with teens. UrbanFree Flow has videos for beginners.

Rock Climbing - many YMCA's now have walls for you to climb.


Sports Fitness Advisor offers training plans for a variety of sports and performance outcomes.

Ace Fitness check out the rest of this terrific site for workout suggestions, especially the Fit Facts

Health and Fitness in an RV

Contributed by Peggy Bowes -a personal trainer, Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant who lives on the road fulltime with her family.

Working Out

One great investment is a TransFirmer Step by The Firm, available at Target (about $50 but watch for sales). It's a kit with 2 steps, one short and one a little taller that "nest" together. I use this as a booster to get to our RV steps, with the small step stored under the larger one. You could also store it under the bed. The steps stack on top of each other for step ups (targets those glutes (derriere) muscles, and you can use either step for aerobics. The kit also includes 3 DVD's. You can order additional Firm DVD's for a few dollars at I like The Firm workouts because you get cardio and weights at the same time-- very efficient. I use my laptop to play the DVD's and do the workouts outside under the awning.

I have a yoga mat and several Pilates and yoga DVD's, and a set of dumbbells that interlock so that you can dial up the weight you'd like. They take up very little space, but they are a bit heavy. Target sells a set in their sporting goods section, and you can buy a heavier set from Bowflex at sporting goods stores.

Another great way to get a resistance or strength training workout is to use stretch cords with handles and a medicine ball. I take my stretch cords and medicine ball to the playground, and I can get a great workout while the kids play. Fitness Wholesale is an inexpensive source for cords, medicine balls, posters with workouts, DVD's, etc. Join their email list for specials and discounts.

Of course, a good set of running/walking shoes is essential. Most campgrounds have a path or trail where you can walk or run. If you have a bike, you can ride around the campground. For variety, I might ride a few laps on the bike, then jog a few laps, then back on the bike, etc.

The kids and I all have roller blades, and many city parks have nice concrete paths for skating.

playing double dutch

Jump ropes are also fun and take up very little space. We bought 2 long ropes from Fitness Wholesale so we can do double dutch. The whole family has learned this skill, and we often attract a crowd at the campground when we start double dutching - great way to meet other kids. We have shorter ropes for individual jumping.

My kids love TaeBo, and we have a large living area, so we'll workout together, but we have to be careful where we kick! We also use the community rooms, available at most campgrounds. We take our TaeBo DVD to the room when it's not in use, and we have plenty of room to kick and punch.

There are so many great exercise DVD's/videos out there. Netflix online has a good variety for rent. You can find them at amazon, overstock, eBay, etc. There are DVD's for all kinds of exercise from line dancing to hip hop to Boot Camp. I love the Collage Video site because it includes reviews and sample clips, along with a *huge* variety of DVD's and videos, including a nice selection for kids.

See the FOTR section about ways to rent movies on the road.

Another great workout for kids (and you) is the Twister DVD workout (available at Target in the games section). The graphics are pretty low-tech, but it's a great way to get a workout and have a little fun dancing. The game comes with 4 twister mats. The "instructors" on the DVD teach you dance moves using the circles on the Twister mat.

This is another workout you could do in a community room if your living area is small. Don't forget you can do these outside if you have a portable DVD player or laptop. (Just be sure to put out the awning or set the player in the shade so you can see the screen. )

Dealing with Cold Weather

First of all, regarding weather, there are very few days when you can't get outside if you dress appropriately. Sometimes it's a lot of fun to put on raincoats and splash in the puddles. On very cold days, bundle up, and get out and for a brisk walk. The exercise will warm you up, and you can look forward to getting back inside for a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate.

If you absolutely can't get outside, then follow your child's lead and dance. Turn on some music, and dance with him for a few minutes. Tell him that Mom needs to get some exercise and that you'll dance with him for2 songs, but then you need the space when you're done. Tell him if he can play quietly while you exercise, then you'll dance again when you're done. That way, both of you get some exercise. Maybe you can save a box of toys or activities that you only get out for him during your exercise time. Another idea is to let him do some of the moves on the video with you. He'll likely get bored after a few minutes and wander off to do something else.

If that doesn't work, then use those bad weather days to do a strength training workout with stretch cords or dumbbells. You can even involve your child and have him mimic your movements (without weights). You could also do some push-ups and crunches if you don't have cords or dumbbells.

Another option for workouts on the road is hotel gyms. Many hotels have a small exercise room that is never used. Talk to the manager and ask if you can use their exercise room during low use periods (around 1-3 pm). You can offer to pay a small amount (say $5 a day) or maybe a weekly fee. You can try the same approach to use hotel pools.