Don't Dread the Road Trip

A long time ago, I used to dread long road trips especially when my children were much younger. However, after years of experience and many miles later, I now love road trips and look forward to our next one.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that I need to plan ahead especially when it comes to eating during our travel. Although it may seem easier to buy food from a convenience store or a drive-thru along the trip, it can get expensive. Not to mention, most of those foods are high in fat, sodium, and calories. Instead, I like to bring our own snacks because it’s healthier and saves us money and time.
I prefer to pack foods that don’t require refrigeration. However, when I do pack perishable items, I store them in a cooler with lots of ice packs or frozen water bottles (this is great in the summertime). Keeping food safe is a vital part of planning a road trip…after all, we’re on a journey to have fun and make memories with the kids and not end up at the Urgent Care.
Foods that need to be chilled include:

  • Deli meat or lunchmeat
  • Anything made with egg, tuna, chicken, ham, seafood (or other animal protein)
  • Cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products
  • Cut up fruit and vegetables
  • Homemade fruit and vegetable dips

Foods that can be left out include:

  • Bread
  • Peanut butter sandwiches (I cut them up to make it easier to eat)
  • Whole fruit (Juicier fruits, like mango, oranges, kiwi, watermelon and others can get messy)
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts and seeds (I like to make my own trail mix)
  • Crackers and other dry packaged snacks (I avoid anything that melts like chocolate)

If your kids are like mine, they can devour an entire bag of anything if given the chance. This is why I divide the snacks into single servings and store them in sandwich bags. Each child now has his own treat that is easily accessible and just the right amount. I also tend to pack water rather than sugar sweetened drinks. Not only is it healthy and refreshing but if it spills, it won’t stain!
And finally, I always pack moist hand wipes (lots of it), paper towels, trash bags, barf bags (for the times you least expect it), and disinfectant spray (trust me, you’ll need it).
Road trips are supposed to be fun and memorable when planned well. Save money and time by packing your own healthy snacks. And reduce your risk of foodborne illness by handling and keeping your food safe.

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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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