Eating your way through a road trip


The long road to Pullman, Wash., has a reputation for being boring, but there are several quick side trips that offer spots for scenery and a little exercise. (Craig Hill/Tacoma News Tribune/MCT)

Cicely Chisholm

Spring break is upon us, and then only a month later it’s summer. It’s the season of music festivals, intense heat and road trips. If you’ve never been on a road trip, I highly suggest you remedy that right away.

Living in Los Angeles grants us a lot of close-by destinations that are usually on people’s bucket list. San Francisco is only six hours away while Lake Tahoe is seven and the Grand Canyon eight.

Eating can be difficult on a trip. Stopping at a fast food place every time you’re hungry can start to add up, and cheap junk food from the grocery store isn’t good for your health.

I’ve been doing road trips for a few years, so I’ve finally mastered the art of packing for road trips. First, invest in two coolers, a large and small one. The large one can hang in the back with everything, and the small one will have essentials that can be in the front. Now, here’s what you should bring:

  • Water – When you think you have enough, get more. You seriously cannot have enough. Who knows when you’ll be sitting in traffic and it’s 100 degrees outside. Get packs of individual bottles or a few galleons to fill up refillable bottles (which is more environmentally friendly).
  • Fruit and Vegetables – Even if you’re doing a cross-country trip, they both should last the entire way. The natural sweetness can curb any artificial sweetness you might crave, and for some reason, eating strawberries on the Pacific Coast Highway looks like a good image. Depending on where you are, skipping the market and buying directly from farmer’s markets is the way to go. It’s cheaper, healthier and helps local farmers. See what’s in season as well. Since it’s summer, various berries, peaches and melons are the best. Apples, oranges, carrots and snap peapods are also good options.
  • Salty – Maybe sweet isn’t your thing, so here are some salty options. Pretzels, crackers, nuts, cheese snacks, popcorn or whatever might strike your fancy usually come in large boxes or bags that can be in trunk while you have smaller baggies with you. This also helps ration the food, and make sure you’re not overeating because you’re bored.
  • Protein – This could come in a variety of forms. Beef jerky, granola bars, and nuts are some examples. It’s easy to forget the main food groups on a trip, so these can help.
  • Junk food – There’s already a lot of things on this list, and they’re usually healthy in some sort of way, but junk food is pretty important too. What’s a road trip without chips, candy and soda? It’s vacation, so splurging isn’t a big deal, and the sugar can help in case you’re driving at night.

If anything needs to be cold, freeze some of your water bottles to use as ice packs, as well as any ice packs you may have and actual ice.

If the trip isn’t that long, look into making your own sandwiches or other foods that can be eaten on the way. Hummus and pita bread is a good snack, as well as peanut butter and bread.

Of course, be sure to stop along the way and try new things. Skip the fast food and head for something you haven’t seen before. Discovering new places is half the fun of road trips.