Road trips are great, but they can put a little stress on your wallet and your health if all you do is eat at restaurants the whole time. With a little preparation, though, you can picnic on the road instead of dining out.
Pack a snack
Bring some water
Become a fridge-on-wheels
Keep it ice-cold
Heat up some soup-to-go
Be ready to B-B-Q
Get garbage gear
Take some tools
Plug in for power
Just add water
Road tripping can sometimes mean longer stretches between meals, which makes snacking key. Rather than munching on chips and chocolate bars that will only sustain you short-term, opt for more nutritious items that actually contain protein and fibre, like dried jerky or nuts.
Thirst can also lure you into a restaurant. Buying a case of bottled water at a grocery store beforehand can save you a lot of money, or, if you’re worried about the environment, you can use a Coleman-type portable water jug to top up reusable bottles. Try and avoid sugary pops and juices that may only make you thirstier later on.
Another alternative to eating out is investing in a temperature-controllable container like an Igloo Stainless Steel Cooler. With a 51-litre capacity, you can fit fresh fruit; yogurt; and all of the ingredients you need to compile a sandwich on the road. Just maybe skip the fish for the sake of the other passengers.
The food in your cooler won’t last very long if you don’t also have some way of making it cold in the first place. Rather than using ice packs that might prove difficult to refreeze, use re-sealable freezer bags that you can stuff full of ice found at motels, hotels or gas stations. As a bonus, you can also throw some of that ice in your water.
Is there anything more soothing during a summer rain storm than a hot cup of soup? It doesn’t matter if it’s Mom’s recipe or a can of Campbell’s finest, nothing beats keeping things warm than a good ol’ Thermos. Heat up a few servings and pour them into individual 475-millitre mugs, or the 1-litre version to feed the family.
Even if you’re not hitting up a campsite, there are usually plenty of rest areas along most major highways complete with picnic tables and bathrooms. They’re the perfect spot to break out a tabletop grill for an impromptu barbeque. Some portable grills fold up for easy storage and use small propane canisters so you can avoid the mess of charcoal.
Rather than have your occupants stuff their apple cores and food wrappings into every crevice of the car’s interior, bring along some garbage bags. Make sure to get heavy-duty ones to avoid accidental rips and tears that can lead to stains in the carpet.
You wouldn’t attempt to fix your car without the proper tools, and the same applies to noshing. Instead of using disposable utensils, pick up a full camping dinnerware set with everything—y’know, one with plastic bowls, dishes, forks, knives and spoons. This is doubly useful if any part of your road trip involves tents and fire pits.
I’m not saying bring along the blender and ice-cream maker, but at some point you just might want to plug in something like a water boiler. If your vehicle doesn’t already have a 120-volt socket, you’ll need an inverter that provides a conventional household outlet.
If you’ve a power source, you’ve a way to heat your water, which means you’re one serving of instant food away from a quick meal or pick-me-up. Think noodles, oatmeal, tea, coffee, or just about anything else that only requires the magic of hot water to prepare. Just try not to rely on Sapporo Ichiban for the whole trip.