K8CanRelate's Guide to Moving Across the Country

Not sponsored by Uhaul.

Not sponsored by Uhaul.

Considering a road trip across the country? Or perhaps you are playing around with the idea of making the move from east to west. I moved from West Virginia to Southern California in 3 nights with 2 vehicles and a U haul trailer. This is a guide that includes how we packed, the route we took, the food we ate, the stops we made and how I did my best to stay healthy.

HOW IT HAPPENED

I visited Los Angeles the first week of July for a long weekend. It was my very first time “out West”. People have been telling me for years that I belong in California. I usually dismissed their opinions because I heard that California was expensive and housing was outrageous, and I assumed that I would never be able to afford it. During my visit, I ate amazing vegan food, I visited with friends that I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet in person before, I watched Austin Powers in a cemetery, I drove through Topanga Canyon. I didn’t really do “touristy” things, and I think it is because of this that I became transfixed. I spent more time among Angelenos than with visitors and a thought started to bubble to the surface of my mind: I really do belong here. I mentioned to my friends that I would love to live here, and I guess the rest is history. It was just a few short weeks later that Danny and I were interviewing for jobs and looking at apartments. Do not be surprised at how quickly the Universe moves once you are ready.

WHAT WE PACKED

As many of my longtime readers know, I have been dabbling into minimalism here and there. Danny and I seriously considered tiny home life and do still intend to own a renovated Airstream at some point. Since we both already were preparing for a minimalist lifestyle, it wasn’t as difficult for us to get rid of our stuff. We had a yard sale and sold what we could, donated what we couldn’t. I gave away 6 trash bags filled with clothes and shoes. It disgusted me that I owned that many clothing items, most of which I rarely, if ever, wore. We have a Casper mattress, which comes shipped in a small box when you purchase it. Danny found a YouTube video that showed how to suck the air back out of it for easy transportation. It actually did work really well which was huge for us to be able to fit everything in the size of U Haul trailer that we could tow with Danny’s Jeep. We didn’t pack any furniture besides the bed, bed frame and a wooden chest that I had (which I ended up getting rid of upon arriving in California).

The route we took, with the towns we stayed in marked!

The route we took, with the towns we stayed in marked!

WHAT ROUTE WE TOOK

We took the Southern route, as it is known, because it is less mountainous. The route through Colorado and Utah is beautiful, I have heard, but since we were towing a U Haul we didn’t want to take that route. We started in West Virginia and made our way through Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before arriving in California. All of these states were new for me, except for Kentucky! It was mid-September when we were traveling and the weather was absolutely perfect. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. My only real complaint and headache was the Oklahoma Turnpike. If you take this route, remember to bring cash (and coins!). There is a little calculator here to compute exact totals. I came prepared with the cash, but wasn’t anticipating how steep the cost of traveling this stretch of road would be. At one point, it requires exact change, which I didn’t compute as coins. I ended up having to drive right through, oops. Other than that minor hiccup, everything was perfect.

Kombucha tasting at the Confluence in St. Louis, Missouri

Kombucha tasting at the Confluence in St. Louis, Missouri

WHAT WE SAW

We weren’t doing this trip for the sightseeing, which was kind of a bummer. We were just trying to make good time so that we could get settled into our new apartment. There were so many cool things along the way that we wish we could have made time for, but we knew that we would be making weekend trips to do those things soon. That being said, we did stay in some pretty cool cities and made a few pit stops as well. We always utilize Happy Cow to scope out vegan options in whatever city or town we are traveling to. We made a stop in St. Louis at Confluence Kombucha to try their kombuchas on tap as well as to grab a little snack. Very fun flavors and cooking techniques and the staff was great! I saw the Gateway Arch from the interstate, even though I kept mentally calling it the Golden Arches (it is definitely not a McDonald’s).

Annapurna's Cafe in Albuquerque features Ayurvedic Indian cooking

Annapurna's Cafe in Albuquerque features Ayurvedic Indian cooking

The next night, we stayed in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Because the time change was working in our favor, we had some daylight left to explore the city. We went downtown and parked and wandered around looking at some murals, stopping in to El Guapo’s for a Corona and lime on the rooftop. On our way through Texas, I couldn’t stop marveling at the windmills. Texas is the largest purveyor of wind energy in the country! I had seen windmills before in Maryland, but never this many. We made it a point to stop at the Cadillac Ranch which is just off the highway in Amarillo. We went on from there to stay the night in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We went to Annapurna's Cafe for dinner, which was absolutely delicious. We shared the South Indian Sampler and Mediterranean Plate, both pictured above. After dinner, we walked from our hotel over to Green Jeans Farmery. It’s like a shipping container plaza complete with a brewery, food vendors and more. The hot air balloons against the mountains in Albuquerque are so dreamy, I definitely want to go back. Driving through New Mexico and Arizona were my absolute favorite views. There is something that feels otherworldly and magical about the American Southwest. The trains snaking through the hills made me want to pull over and paint it all, photograph it all, savor each and every drop. I was so inspired.

Danny’s cousin lives in Flagstaff, Arizona and we made it a point to stop in and grab lunch with her. We ate at a little vegan place called WHYld Ass. Their food was amazing. This would have been the perfect opportunity to skip over to the Grand Canyon, and I would recommend it if you have a couple of hours to spare. We made the choice to drive through to Long Beach, and it was a long 15 hour drive day for us. For a while, there seems to be nothing and then you come over this hill and there are lights everywhere, cars everywhere. We had made it.

HOW I STAYED HEALTHY + SAVED MONEY

As I was packing the kitchen, I realized I had a lot of dry beans in my pantry. I made a quick and easy chili in the Instant Pot, because I also had a couple of chili seasoning packets laying around. I packed it in large Tupperware along with utensils for us to eat for lunches while road tripping. I measured out the last of the quick-cook oatmeal that I had, turmeric and the last of my protein powder. I added water to this and zapped it in the hotel microwave. At the last hotel, there was no microwave, so I used the hot water from the coffee pot to make it work. I also packed some apples, GoMacro bars and some peanut butter in the car. I brought along 2 reusable water bottles that I kept filled with cold water from the fountain at various gas stations. There is almost always a microwave that you can use to heat up food at gas stations, so you aren’t bound by cold-only foods while traveling! By using up some of these pantry items, it allowed me to save money, stay healthy and also not have to pack that stuff up. Additionally, we made it a point to book hotels that had a gym. We chose not to stay at Airbnb’s along the way because we weren’t sure which towns we would be staying in each night and didn’t want to be disruptive to the host/hostess with our late arrivals. With as much sitting as we were doing, it was really important to me to start the day with some activity. By no means will you become “unhealthy” or “unfit” if you take time off from your fitness or meal prep while traveling, but for me, it was more about mental health and easability than anything!

Hopefully this helps you plan your next road trip or inspires you to travel to new places and see new things. If you are a routine traveler, share some of your favorite travel or packing tips with me below!

Staying Healthy While Traveling: K8CanRelate's Healthy Travel Tips

My healthy travel tips

My healthy travel tips

No surprise to all of you, I love to travel. Day trips, weekend getaways, international travel -- I love it all! However, traveling can be detrimental to our health especially when you are traveling frequently and always on the go. So how can you stay healthy while traveling? 

Enter my insider intel, all my best tips for everything you need to do to stay healthy, no matter where your wanderlust may lead. 

Numbero uno most important tip that I can give you: determine what kind of healthy you mean. For some, they want a physically healthy trip and for others they need to take a vacation for mental health. This post is more for physical health and well-being and less about indulgent trips. However, I am aware of how crucial it is to let go and indulge yourself every now and again (especially while on a vacation!) 

Plan ahead - pre-trip | Research the options before you go. What are some healthy restaurants in the area, is there a free gym, does the Airbnb have a full kitchen, is the city walkable etc. I am a planner by nature, so this is one of my favorite parts of traveling, the pre-trip is just as fun for me as the trip itself!

Sleep | Catch those Z's like a pro. If you have trouble sleeping in unfamiliar places, I recommend trying Lush's sleepy lotion or a bedtime tea. Our bodies are already prone to sickness in new environments, don't put yourself at a higher risk by getting little to no sleep. 

Walk everywhere | If possible, opt for strolling around town to sight-see rather than hailing a Lyft. I get in more steps when I travel than I ever do at home. I usually don't visit the gym while traveling, so walking is my primary means of exercise. 

Utilize the free gym or try out a local studio | I love checking out local studios while traveling! I usually opt for yoga or cycle. This is a great way to feel out the vibe of a city as well as check out an area of town that you otherwise might not have. I just utilize Google to find websites for studios and then decide based on their location, schedules and overall vibe. If you are staying at a hotel that offers a free gym, go! 

Reusable water bottle | Don't forget to hydrate! It is much easier to become dehydrated while traveling, especially if you are flying or going to a warmer climate than what you're used to. Bring an empty reusable water bottle through airport security and fill it up once you are through TSA. If you are driving, you can bring more than one water bottle so that you always have a full one on hand. 

Cook your own meals | The easiest way for me to stay healthy while traveling is to book accommodations with a kitchen. This way, I can control what fruits and veggies that I am getting as well as how much sodium I am taking in. We definitely still like to go out to eat while we travel and it is often one of our favorite parts of traveling. However, it is more cost effective to cook your own meals and it is just healthier overall. Usually I will cook breakfasts, lunches and pack snacks and then go out to eat for dinner. I would suggest packing a few to-go containers for leftovers as well as reusable utensils. 

Be mindful of your immune system | Load up on good-for-you foods like fresh fruits and veggies. Go to your local health foods store and get some elderberry lozenges to pack in your bag. Wash your hands often while traveling, especially through airports and other crowded tourist spots. 

Limit your alcohol | By now, we know that alcohol takes its toll on our bodies. Limit your alcohol consumption while traveling. Ask yourself if it is really worth the headaches, hangovers and dehydration that will surely follow. 

Let go | Ultimately, worrying about staying healthy can cause you to be more unhealthy than just going with the flow would. Plan ahead as much as you can, but also be open to letting things flow naturally.

Don't worry, be happy, travel often. 

Healthy Vegan Road Trip Tips & Hacks

Wondering what to pack to stay healthy for your next road trip? 

This post isn’t just for vegans! Are you a busy person always on the go or with a long commute? Are you a traveler or in college? Would you prefer not to spend all of your budget on food? Do you have limited access to a kitchen but still want healthy, whole food snacks and meals? Since I became vegan a couple of years ago, road trips (and travel in general) have required a bit more food packing and planning. I wanted to share some of my own hacks and tips for a healthy vegan-friendly road trip:

Place an order online. When I know I will be traveling and am low on pantry items, I go ahead and place an order from Vitacost carries all of my favorites at a lower price than if I were to buy them at the store. I usually stock up on meal bars, crackers, nuts and seeds.  

Happy Cow! I always scope out my destination on Happy Cow prior to leaving so I know what kinds of options there will be for eating out. This will dictate how much and what I need to pack. This is the best app for traveling vegans or vegetarians. Their website is free and you can enter in your destination and it will pull all of the vegan/vegetarian/veg-friendly restaurants in that area. This has been so useful for us when we travel.

Own a reliable compact cooler or insulated lunch bag. This way you can pack your own snacks or meals that need to be kept cold.

Bring reusable bags with insulation. This will allow you to shop at a grocery store so you can cook your meals once you reach your destination.

Stay hydrated – bring one or more reusable water bottles.

Pack snacks.

  • DIY trail mix (or store bought if you want)
  • Hummus, cut veggies and Mary’s crackers
  • Fruit! Apples are the most travel-friendly fruit, followed by grapes and oranges and then bananas. Bananas aren’t so great if you will be stuffing them into your backpack, they bruise and squish easily.
  • Homemade energy bites
  • Protein bars
  • Homemade muffins
  • PB, banana, tortilla roll ups
  • Pop Chips or Skinny Pop (especially if you will be driving, something crunchy is nice to help you stay alert!)

Choose an Airbnb with a kitchen. I always look for available Airbnb's with a kitchen. Haven't traveled with Airbnb yet? Read my blog post about why I don't use hotels anymore. 

Bring pre-prepared meals in Tupperware. Don’t forget utensils! If I know I am going to need meals on the road then I go ahead and prep something like Soba Noodle Salad or Mediterranean pasta salad that I can eat cold and will still be healthy, filling and delicious. Something easier than bringing a prepared meal is packing bagel sandwiches with vegan deli meats, avocado and your other favorite toppings!

Fast Food. Budget friendly and quick. Taco Bell is our go-to when we do need to opt for fast food. They have a surprisingly vegan-friendly menu. The magic words you are looking for are “fresco-style”. This will replace all dairy products with pico de gallo. Ask for avocado and you are set! Chipotle is a great option as well.

Whole Foods. Not always budget friendly (but it can be); however, it is always delicious and healthy. Check out the salad bar for on-the-go options!

Instant pot. Traveling for a long time without access to a kitchen? My friend over at Vegan Love Adventure traveled across the country staying in hotels without kitchens. The Instant Pot is heavy and bulky, but would allow you to be in control of what you are eating and also allow you to be very budget-friendly. Mary traveled with her Instant Pot and was able to make meals from cheap and easy to find grocery items like beans and veggies. I think this is a genius idea!