Taking It On The Road…

So we’ve got a trip coming up and I’m excited. Really, I am. But I must admit that in the face of travel, I am not simply the gung-ho type. The overplanner in me gets a real workout and I usually take on some massive house or garden project that simply must be finished before we leave about 2 days before we go. I am FIGHTING the urge to do this with every fiber of my neurotic being. I am instead trying to stay very clear on what actually needs to be done, what should get done, and what would be nice to complete. For this trip, which will include a total of about 24 hours of driving (divided into four 6 hour jaunts or two 6’s and a twelve if we can keep everyone from jumping out of the windows) give or take the need to run around a bit, one of the things that needs to get done is a little thinking about food. Shocker, I know.

Road Trip Friends

We have found over the course of many car trips that while we are okay with letting our media restricted kids be digitally entertained at great length in the car, if we choose the same relaxed attitude on food, the trip becomes difficult, if not unbearable, for all of us. So… a little planning. When we take a road trip, I use two small insulated bags. I usually put lunch items in one and snack items in the other just to make moving them in or out of reach as we pack a little easier. For lunch items I’ll pack sandwiches, yogurt, some vegetables, and sometimes a travel container of milk for the little ones. It’s amazing, but if you slap a straw on the outside, they think it’s awesome. So still no juice, but pretty big joy. If we are unable to find a place to stop and picnic or if it’s WAY cold, we’ll stop at a fast food place that has a playground inside. Mom and Dad will get coffee, we’ll let the kids play while we drink our coffee and then lunch gets eaten in the car. The children are surprisingly amenable to this arrangement.  And they really are fine with eating food I prepare for them, especially if I try to choose their more favored options and include something we don’t have ALL the time, like put the sandwich on a bagel or in a wrap instead of on really grainy healthy bread that they endure but do not relish.  “WooHoo!  Mom didn’t use Ezekial bread today…”

For snacks I am definitely of the more is more philosophy when on a car trip. Fresh fruit, crackers, pretzels, cheese, nuts, olives, grape or cherry tomatoes, carrots, hummus, pitas. I always try include something they won’t expect. I think this time we’ll do popcorn with maybe some homemade granola mixed in to go with the copious movie watching that will be going on… Car joy! I usually smuggle away some very small piece of chocolate to spring on them when/if the time seems right. More car joy!

I usually throw all these bits together the morning we leave as I am snooty and don’t like soggy sandwiches. Sure, we could stop somewhere and save me that 20 minutes, but I know I will feel better the WHOLE day if I limit my road purchases to coffee and water when our command center supply runs out. I also know I won’t arrive at my destination, where I’m supposed to be having fun, already kind of bloated and greasy from road food. Now don’t get me wrong. We will stop and eat from time to time. There is a roadside barbecue stand between Richmond and Norfolk that gets us every time we’re over that way. But that is a CHOICE we are making, not food we are purchasing because this is the place that was on the exit that we had to take because she has to pee and he’s having a sugar crash, and Mommy’s cell phone keeps ringing from the back of the car. Calgon, take me away, or just remind me to pack the little coolers for the trip, even if I don’t feel like it.

So as you’re reading this, think of our van of insanity barreling down the highway, with the sounds of How To Train Your Dragon playing for the 8 millionth time, but with happy tummies and full wallets.  THAT is a good trip.


  • 5 c popcorn, lightly salted (I don’t recommend butter as it will soggify everything)
  • 4 c granola (such as this)
  • 2 c almonds
  • 2 c low sugar cereal
  • 2 c dried fruit

I recommend mixing the granola, almonds, and dried fruit in a large bowl first.  Then add the cereal and popcorn and gently mix with your hands.   You’ll notice that this makes an ENORMOUS amount of GORP, so best prepared for a group, or divided in half.  Delish.

19 responses

  1. Hahaha…I’ve been on enough road trips to know the regret in eating the found foodstuffs. These days if I travel and don’t plan/pack food from home I merely get coffee only. Love the gorp recipe. We grew a popcorn crop last year that got hit hard by the hurricane and one way we stretched it out was with recipes like this one.

    Happy Trails to you and your crew.

  2. That looks great! Before our last trip I had considered putting popcorn into the trail mix but didn’t know how it would work out. I probably would have buttered it like a ninny. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Oh my gosh…this sounds so familiar. First of all, I totally work myself up into a pre-trip frenzy. The details are mind-boggling: planning meals and snacks for humans and dog. Copious lists: “What to Bring” “Do Before Leaving,” etc. Getting the house ready for our departure…did we turn up the A/C, is the wifi off, did I leave the oven on?? It’s no wonder we never want to “go outside the fence.” Never mind all of that 😉 – enjoy your trip!

    • I didn’t sign up because I knew we’d be out of town until a couple of days before…. wasn’t sure I could pull it off. It sounds awesome though. Let me discuss with my other half… the one who is NOT traveling this week. 😉

  4. That. is. a. lot. of. driving! Sounds like you are going to be well prepared! By the time we are ready to travel/do a road trip I’m usually so frazzled that I cannot think to put anything together, so good on you!

  5. I can report that Little Sis’ crew gave a resounding “Hurray” to the gorp which is easing the journey. They’ve probably arrived at the end of leg 1 and are hopefully relaxing. How to get any sleep with twin five year olds with you in a hotel room – the next obstacle : )

  6. Boy did this bring back memories! Back before the day when children had to be in car seats, My husband and I drove from Michigan to Georgia to see his sister. We owned the ugliest ORANGE Volare station wagon. We have 6 children and it just happened that they were all shorter than the width of the station wagon. They all laid down across the car and at least when they were sleeping they looked like a pack of hot dogs. What a memorable trip! You describing your trip coming up reminded me of it and made me smile. Hang in there… you will survive! I know, I lived through a few trips like that. 🙂 Jan

    • Thanks for great story Jan. I’m pretty sure I have been the hot dog in that station wagon setup… And I remember loving it. We arrived more or less unscathed and they are VERY excited to be here.

    • I love the visual of the kids laid out like a pack of hot dogs. Little Sis and I are in a batch of 4 with several sets of cousins that were either 3 or 4 kids. We used to pack everyone into one station wagon for short trips back in the day before strict seat belt laws. Poor Little Sis was usually relegated to someone’s lap because she was the youngest…. but also the cutest!

      • I SO hated the lap thing, but I DO remember lying in sleeping bags in the bag of that tremendously large station wagon with the fold away seating that made me sure I would be pitched onto the highway… Ahhh the 70s.

  7. Pingback: Healthy Game Day Snacks | my sister's pantry

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