Even while we’re on a road trip, we need to keep our bellies full. And if we don’t eat at restaurants while we’re traveling, road trip food can still be very enjoyable.
In the Car Versus At a Restaurant
If money is tight, the choice is obvious…make a trip to the grocery store. Although packing enough to eat on the road might violate my packing light rule, it can be managed without hassle. Make grocery store stops along the way, so you don’t have to pack so much at one time.
Keep your cooler as small as possible and keep it accessible. Maybe get a 12V cooler. There are powered coolers that plug into your cigarette lighter, so that your perishables aren’t swimming in melted ice. Make a special place to keep all your road trip food together.
Road Trip Snacks
I try not to get too carried away with snacks on the road. I’d rather just drive, rather than eat and drive. But my sweetheart is in a perpetual state of food preparedness, so if she’s riding with me, then I will be fed while driving.
She usually brings a grocery bag full of fruit, veggies, pretzels, cheese, and other tasty things. She’ll also bring a Tupperware or two with leftovers, and a couple of small cold packs with chilled items as well.
Try not to let your snackables float around your road trip car. They can become a terrible clutter to deal with. Although, some may find it a pleasant surprise to suddenly find half a peanut butter jelly sandwich hiding between your seat and a small pillow.
This could actually be a good reason for a short road trip. And for longer ones, this can be a memorable moment of your road trip.
You can do this at a rest area well enough. I have been to many state parks and scenic areas with picnic tables, that would make excellent bar-b-Que spots. Check out the Coleman RoadTrip Grill. It’s a great portable grilling machine.
If your road trip food involves stopping at a restaurant, then I encourage you to seek out a special place to eat. Choose something unique to the area. This is a great way to get the flavor of a region. You’ll meet locals there and taste food that might be different than you’re used to. This is also a great reason for a road trip.
Ask the locals. I once found myself in Salmon, Idaho, and very hungry. While I was paying for gas, I asked the nice girl behind the counter, “Where can I find some tasty food around here.” She described a local dive, that serves ‘the tastiest burgers I’ve ever eaten’. They were indeed fantastic, and I would’ve never found them if I hadn’t asked.
I was once passing through Idaho on a cross country trip. We were in the big sky country. We could see for miles and miles with no civilization in sight…just beautiful countryside. We were off the beaten path, exploring the smaller more intimate roads, when we happened upon a small table and a sweet elderly couple. I pulled the car over and got out to see what they were selling. It was bags of the tastiest most amazing beef jerky you ever did taste. I loaded up on jerky and was on my way, grateful for the little gem we had just found.
There have been other great roadside experiences like that. But, please forgive me if you’ve had a different experience with roadside vendors. I suppose they can’t all be that great, but I believe it’s still worth a try. Nothing ventured…nothing gained.