Taking a Bite Out of Road Trips

5 Tips to Tackle Mealtime on Your Next Open Road Adventure 

The Road Trip is a fabled American sojourn and veritable right of passage for new and experienced travelers alike. The open road promises adventure, spontaneity, and a great opportunity to catch up on any music or podcast listening you’ve been putting on the backburner. 

If you are gearing up — literally or figuratively — for your next great road trip, take a moment to consider your stomach! Eating while on the road can be a great experience. When discovering a new location, it’s always a joy to taste the local flavors and experience culture through fork, knife, or spoon. However, if you plan on going the distance, your budget should take priority! 

Here are five tips to stay fueled while respecting your wallet on your next travel adventure. 

Pack Healthy Snacks 

For some, road trip eats don’t steer far from the highway drive thru. But when you’re burned out from hours on the road, a sandwich might not be the offering that brings you back from the edge and keeps you driving with gusto. 

“I take healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts and oats,” said Axel Hernborg, a travel researcher and wanderer who owns the site Tripplo. “I have found that eating healthy snacks that I pack gives me more energy and an overall feeling of wellness.”

This tip from Hernborg is a great recommendation for any road trippers. Having some shelf stable items on hand such as fruits, nuts, and other nutrient dense dried goods can stave off hunger and keep you from less than optimal offerings while in between destinations. This is also a great way to keep a little extra cash in your pocket. 

Fruit and vegetable snacks in tins
Photo by: S’well on Unsplash

Purchase healthy “snack” items in bulk and in advance and have a store of quality goods that will back you up for the duration of your trip!

Embrace the Hotel Breakfast 

Whether you plan to explore the coast or the interior on your next road trip, consider the utility of hotel stays when exploring and planning your meal options.

Stephan Gary of the travel packs and accessory brand Flashpacker, recommends utilizing hotel breakfasts as a stable and nutritious option to factor into your road trip meal plan.

“Staying somewhere with a provided breakfast is a great way to stick to your eating out limit and can prevent you from needing to keep items like milk, cream cheese, or other breakfast items packed for your road trip,” said Gary.

Breakfast food spread. Waffles, omelets and fruit.
Photo by: Heather Ford on Unsplash

This tip can certainly stretch your food options when it comes to longer trips as well as provide an opportunity to rest and relax in between long haul drives. If your hotel features a full breakfast, this is a great opportunity to fuel up on some items that would be more difficult to transport without an icebox or refrigeration solution.

Keep It Super Simple 

When taking to the road, you want to be mobile and free to wander spontaneously — taking advantage of your intuition and opportunities that arise along the way. Pack simple items that you can chow down on with ease.

Canned sardines
Photo by: Ignat Kushanrev on Unsplash

Marc Bromhall of Beginner Surf Gear discusses his tips for easy meals while on the road.

“The three staples I always pack are canned tuna, canned baked beans, and two-minute noodles,” said Bromhall. “All of these items can be eaten directly from the can or container and therefore also save me valuable washing up time.”

While not the most glamorous meal you will ever be treated to, options like these can offer a quick meal that is nutritious and filling. If you are seeking a more remote destination or are keen to save as much money as possible on eating out, this may be a great strategy to take advantage of.

Keep Your Options Open 

Being flexible while wandering can be a great tactic for optimal enjoyment. This is an especially great tactic for getting the most out of your travel destination. Going with the flow and keeping your eyes and ears open can expose you to some fantastic sights, sounds, and eats — helping you create some fantastic stories along the way.

“You should definitely enjoy some of the local foods,” said Philip Scully of the travel resource site The Broke Backpacker. “If you see something you really want, make sure not to deny yourself the experience of some different foods that you might not see every day.”

Asian style noodle bowl meals
Photo by: Dylan Lu on Unsplash

If you plan smart and keep your budget in check, having the ability to go with the flow and be flexible with some of your meal options is a great way to harness the full potential of your trip.

Cook More. Cost Less.

Give yourself options when on the road. If you want optimal flexibility and an easy cost savings strategy, consider bringing a camp stove! Victoria Kennedy of the travel blog Bridges & Balloons discusses her experience while on the road.

Taking a Bite Out of Road Trips
Photo by: Sean Benesh on Unsplash

“This is useful [a small gas stove] even if you aren’t camping as you can cook lunches at beauty spots, or even cook on your hotel balcony to save money on always eating out,” said Kennedy. “We did this on a California road trip and found it especially useful for cooking food for our baby.”

This is a great tip that’s sure to come in handy for some. At the very least, having a small stove can be a great resource on occasion, and an essential item in a pinch should you need to salvage a dinner to avoid rumbling tummies should plans not go accordingly. 

If you enjoyed this article, check out Solo Road Trip 101. For additional resources and travel inspiration, visit VacationistUSA!