Thank you to TownePlace Suites by Marriott for compensating my family for a stay at their fabulous hotel, and sponsoring today’s post. Every single thought below is my own opinion. This post may contain additional sponsored “affiliate” links; thank for supporting those companies and businesses I trust and who support this site!
One of the best and least enjoyable parts of a road trip for me is the food. It’s a love/hate relationship, really. I love it, because when we eat on a road trip I get to try new foods and new places. On the flip side, I really hate it, because I desperately miss cooking in my own kitchen. Luckily, with several road trips under our (somewhat tighter) belts, I have a few suggestions on how to make eating on a road trip less about eating fast food for every meal, and more about enjoying good eats. And, spoiler alert: you can cook on your road trip just like at home!
Seven Ways to Eat on a Road Trip
Brown Bag It
This is a great option if you’re staying in a place with a fridge. Not only does it cut down on costs, but you can control what you’re eating a heck of a lot better than if you hit the drive-thru. Grab some deli meat, cheese, fixin’s, peanut butter, jelly, bread and/or tortillas, and you have several different options for meals. Pick up or make some sides ahead of the trip (pasta salads and fruit travel pretty well), pack it all in a cooler along with a few plastic utensils, and there you go!
One of the cool things about brown bagging it is that you can search for parks or find rest stops with picnic benches along your route, so you can enjoy some fresh air, and time to stretch your legs. We’ve even pulled over on the side of the road, popped open the cooler, and distributed the food. I’d rather find an actual place to stop, but at least this way we’re eating “fresh” food.
It’s nothing fancy, but almost all gas stations have at least some type of food inside, and if you’re lucky maybe you’ll find one with a full sandwich set up like we did just outside of Colorado Springs! If you’re traveling with a crowd, and you’re not all in-sync with your eating habits, a quick hot dog could be a fast solution to tide you over until you actually stop. Nobody wants to ride with someone when they’re hangry. Actually, while you’re at it, pick up a bag of chips, too.
Speaking of hangry…let’s not make that an option. Having a grab-bag full of snacks in the car is a must—and absolute must—for eating on a road trip.
Grill in your (Temporary) Backyard
I’ve mentioned this before, but traveling with kids means that we book suite hotels, like TownePlace Suites by Marriott. The fact that they have bedrooms that close off to the living room area, accepts pets, offer great military rates (hooray!), have a pool for the kiddos, fitness centers to blow off some steam for the grown-ups, free breakfast that you don’t have to cook (and I’m not talking about stale “eggs”—they have a really great spread), and they a full kitchen in the room so I can cook dinner, means we can travel a lot easier.
I’m actually really looking forward to our next road trip, because TownePlace Suites just announced that they’re partnering with Weber Grills so guests can really feel like home by grilling in their “backyard.” Earlier this week they rolled out brand new, high-end Weber stainless steel Summit Gas Grills at more than 100 locations in America and Canada. They even provide all the seasonings and tools, so all you have to do is B.Y.O.M. (bring your own meat, of course).
I’ve gotta tell you, after being in a car all day, there is nothing better than getting some fresh air, but sometimes the last thing I want to do is drive to go eat somewhere, so I love that they’re bringing this option to their hotel. And seriously, the thought of maybe having a grilled steak for dinner sounds delightful!
Bust out an App
I’m constantly on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Roadtrippers, researching the new city/town/state we’re visiting or driving through. My husband makes fun of me for always being on there and shouting out the rankings of each place, but I like finding the best spots with the tastiest food!
Check Out the Local Digs
Of course the Golden Arches will almost always be the faster route if you need to just get up, grab some food, and get on the road. But if you have the time, check out the local restaurants in the area. Every state has something that they’re known for, and when you eat where the locals do, you’ll probably enjoy your food a lot more than scarfing down something in the car.
Okay, okay; I harped on skipping the drive-thru lines throughout this post, but let’s face it: sometimes the best part of going on a road trip is indulging here and there on fast food. Plus, if you’re on a mission to get from point A to point B in a specific amount of time, fast food may be your only and best option. Plus, let’s face it: kid’s meals that provide toys will buy you at least five minutes of quiet in the car!
Those are pretty much alllllll of the different ways we eat on a road trip, but I’d love to hear what you do. What category do you fall under? Fast-food and go, cook-wherever-you’re planted, or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?