Saturday, September 30, 2023


Keep the weight off: Gain memories, not pounds, while RVing

So … you’ve been traveling in your RV when one day you notice that the campground dryer shrunk your jeans! The dryer’s thermostat must have malfunctioned. There’s no way that jeans’ zipper is coming up. And that button? It’s never going to make it all the way over to the buttonhole. But wait! Before you approach the campground manager, demanding he do something about the dryer’s thermostat, you might want to step on a scale. It may not be the dryer’s fault at all. You may have gained a little weight while RVing. Don’t despair. With a few tips and tricks, you can gain memories, not pounds, while RVing.

Vacation psychology

I can’t speak for you, but to me, “vacation” often meant an abandonment of rules. We’d eat junk foods, stay up late, snack more often—well, you get the picture. Have you seen the sign? “Road trip calories don’t count!”? That’s easy for the Fudge Factory to say.

Just because you’re on vacation in your RV doesn’t necessarily mean you will gain weight. You might just need to readjust your mindset and maybe tweak your schedule a bit, too. Just remember, you want to be able to keep on RVing, right? To make that possible, you need a healthy body.

Note: Not all of the tips or tricks I list may work for you. That’s okay. Choose the one or ones that seem easiest. You may be surprised at how simple changes can make a big impact on your health.

On the road

  • Rethink snack foods/drinks. I used to enjoy sipping soda while we hauled our RV across the country. Now I try to drink water instead. If you prefer some flavor, try infusing your water with fruit. I especially enjoy this during the hot summer temps. We also cut up snack portions of fresh fruit before our trip so that it’s easy to eat while traveling. For a little bit of sweetness, we’ll use flavored low-fat yogurt for our fruit dip. Fresh veggies and flavored rice cakes satisfy our “crunch” cravings, and they are so much healthier than chips.
  • Rethink fuel stops. We try to take advantage of each stop along the road. Simple stretching exercises will help unkink stiff muscles. A brisk walk around the parking lot will get your heart rate up a bit and you’ll feel refreshed as well. We don’t have a dog, but if you do, walking the dog can accomplish the same thing.
  • Rethink fast food meals. We used to pack lunches for our travel days. Now my husband and I prefer to eat outside of the truck. Not only can we walk for a bit, but we can also choose from a variety of different foods. At fast food restaurants, try to stay away from highly breaded items, if possible. Cut carbs by eating only the hamburger meat, not the buns. Order salads for a healthy meal. Go light on the dressing, which can serve up lots of calories. Consider looking for lunch at larger fuel stops. Many have (or will make) fresh salads for you. Don’t forget about local grocery stores. Their deli department may offer sliced meat and cheese that you can roll together for a high-protein lunch.

Gain memories, not pounds, at the RV park

  • Eat smart. One of the great things I like about RVing is that much of our cooking involves grilling. You can choose healthy steaks (sirloin), fish, or low-fat hamburgers to grill. My favorite grilling choice is shish-ka-bobs. Combine steak, onions, peppers, pineapple chunks, and more on a skewer for a healthy and tasty meal. Remember: Portion size is important no matter what you’re eating.
  • Campground amenities. You can walk, jog, bicycle, swim, and more at many campgrounds. Some even have their own “gym” (exercise equipment) for you to use. Try out the CG’s rock-climbing wall, jump pillow, or join the volleyball or pickleball game. My husband and I walk at least twice each day, early morning and at dusk.
  • Fitness clubs. Many national clubs will honor your hometown gym membership (e.g., Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, Snap Fitness). You might also ask about a weekly pass or 3-day trial membership at fitness facilities near your CG.
  • Local community parks. We really enjoy the “workout paths” featured in some communities. These parks have a walking path that’s interspersed with a variety of exercise activities.
  • Sightseeing. Try to walk more. Skip the bus and walk or bike instead. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, too. Check out local walking tours or self-guided tours. They are great if you want to get the local flavor of a place, and you’ll forget that you’re getting exercise in the meantime.
  • Fitness CDs. If your RV has a CD player, you can use it to exercise with your favorite fitness guru, if your rig is large enough.
  • Community groups. Join an active group in the town near your campground. Think: line or square dancing, martial arts, yoga, tennis, bowling, or whatever you like. Many communities feature local clubs that will welcome your participation.

Stay hydrated

Drink lots of water. I know it and you know it, too. The problem is that most of us just don’t drink enough water. I’ll admit, many times when I feel hungry, I’m actually thirsty. If I drink a tall glass of cold water, my thirst is abated. (At least for a while.)

Following these tips and tricks does not mean that you must give up enjoying s’mores forever. After all, what would an RV trip be without s’mores? (Plus, you have to try these s’mores hacks!) But if you make a few small changes, like the ones I suggested, you can continue to enjoy RVing far into the future. Bonus: You’ll be healthier and happier, too.

So, there you have it. Some of the things we do to stay fit. After all, we prefer to gain memories, not pounds, while RVing. Do you have additional hints or tips? Please share them in the comments below.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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1 year ago

Great advice!

1 year ago

On travel days we used to snack on salty snacks, crackers, and sweet treat treats. Now we snack on fruit and water. We try to start with a good breakfast (cereal and yogurt is my go to). We stop to make sandwiches for lunch and have a lite dinner. We skip the fast food joints and pay attention to portion sizes. We take daily walks and those changes have lead to a 15 lb weight loss in the last year.

1 year ago

If you carry a bike (even electric with pedal assist) ride it! Even just a few laps around the campground can introduce you to new acquaintances.

1 year ago

We’ve found that we get thinner when we are camping. We were out for a month last year and were surprised when our clothes started getting larger! However, a couple of months back home and the pounds crept back and the jeans got tighter. We are more active when we are camping and we eat fewer snacks.

Bob M
1 year ago

I felt better when I was on the heavy side. Never felt great after losing weight. Eat what you enjoy, because there’ll be a time in your life your health may not let you. I walked a lot in the past and can’t go for long walks or hikes anymore. Feet and legs can’t handle it.

Bob p
1 year ago

I gave up drinking sodas 6 years ago when I married my lovely wife, now I have a thermal mug of ice water beside me at least 16 hours a day.

Michael S Keller
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob p

So your calling your “lovely wife” a thermal mug that’s full of ice? Just asking.

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