Long trips necessitate a great amount of planning if you don’t want to fall prey to the fast food siren song. Indeed, long trips, whether they are cross-country road trips, plane trips, or simply long commutes, seem designed to prevent people from eating a healthy diet or keep spending at a minimum. Without planning, the fast food restaurants will win out. Here are some great foods to pack when taking a long trip.
Fruits and vegetables:
Crunchy items like these will keep you occupied and awake while driving. Because they contain water and fiber, they will also keep you hydrated and digesting adequately: two things that can be difficult to maintain on long trips. Choose from whole and sliced apples, carrots, celery, and oranges. Soft fruits like pears and berries are not suitable to long trips because they bruise and squish easily. They are good to eat in dried form, however. Try dried pears, peaches, dates, and freeze-dried bananas, strawberries, and pineapple. Eat dried fruit in moderation, as it can dehydrate.
Beef jerky is the consummate travel food. It is high in protein, it fills the need for “real” food, and it is sweet, tangy, or spicy enough to wake the taste buds. Peppered, original, and teriyaki are popular flavors. Jerky can also be found in carne seca, sweet-hot, and barbecue. “Steak strips”, “nuggets,” and sticks are alternative forms of jerky. Chemical-laden jerky can be found in gas stations, but organic brands of jerky are now available in stores like Meijer, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s. It is fairly easy to make your own jerky at home with a food dehydrator and a good slicing knife, as well.
Cheeses are good travel foods. They keep reasonably well at room temperature and are another source of nutrient-dense food for travelers. Try string cheese, block cheeses, and cheese cubes. The Babybell cheeses wrapped in wax seem to be tailor-made to travel needs.
Chips, pretzels, nuts, and seeds can keep one occupied and full while on a long trip. Nuts and seeds are more nutrient-dense and are a better use of space if space is limited. Chips and pretzels, while tasty, don’t provide many nutrients outside of salt and carbohydrates, and are full of air, which takes up space. They also crumble easily. The salt in these snacks can help keep you hydrated while traveling and are worth seeking out for that reason. Instead of carrying them with you, consider buying an occasional bag of chips when you stop for gas or have a layover at the next airport.
Caffeinated beverages can be a boon to the tired traveler, but they are hard to keep cool and available, they are heavy, and they take up a lot of space. Like chips and snacks, it might be better to occasionally buy the needed soda rather than bringing it along. It is always a wise decision, however, to pack water and/or a water container when traveling. Keep a few gallon jugs of water always in your trunk for emergencies and to refill your travel-sized bottles as you complete your trip. It is getting harder to bring liquids with you onto an airplane, but if you have an empty, clear water container with you, you can fill it from water fountains at the airport and from on-flight service while flying.