Most people are lucky. When they go on road trips they can stop for snacks at any one of the many convenience stores and truck stops dotting the highways of America. Most people can live on jerky, Subway sandwiches, and fried chicken. And a candy bar or two.
Not me. Not vegans. When traveling we have to make sure that there are coolers stuffed with all sorts of vegan snacks. This means that three days prior to traveling, I’m going over my road food list. I have to shop, slice, dice, and maneuver all this food into containers and coolers that will make it half-way across the continent.
I’ve accomplished this feat for over a decade now. How may you ask? The list doesn’t vary much, and I’m pretty good at organizing. I have enough food storage containers to hold all the possibilities that the Spouse might get hungry for.
The list looks something like this:
• Veganaise—I make my own
• Pasta Salad or Quinoa Salad
• Sliced cucumber
• Carrot & celery sticks
• Sliced tomato
• Tofu Bites
• Sliced Jicama
• Cut watermelon
• Almond Butter
• Breads — gluten free (her) & whole wheat (me)
• Tortillas – rice (her) & flour (me)
• Milks – almond (her) & rice (me)
• Potato Chips
• Tortilla Chips
• Luna Bars
• Nut mix/raisins
• Strawberry Jam
• Condiments – incl. sea salt, ketchup (corn-free), vegan margarine, salad dressings, etc.
This year the list will include grilled veggies so we can make cilantro pesto veggie wraps.
This list is modest at best. There are foods that we stop and purchase along the way, including crunchy corn chips and coffee refills. But for the most part, we’ll find a rest stop, pull over, make sandwiches, and enjoy the view. We’ve eaten along the banks of rivers, sitting under the shadow of tall mountains, and in crowded truck stops.
The road trip is fun. I love traveling. I get to see the country, stay with friends, and cut the boredom of my daily routine. The Spouse and I travel well together, it’s important that we eat well too.
If you are a vegan who is planning to take a road trip, here are five tips to make it a successful food adventure.
1. Make a List
Always, always make a list. Just like a list for your clothing and your toiletries, this list is your food road map for success.
2. Have Enough Equipment
Coolers. I can’t say enough about coolers, or containers. I made sure that we had plastic bottles to store almond and rice milk, orange juice, and iced tea. Cardboard containers don’t travel well in coolers especially when they get soggy. Having our drinks in non-disintegrating containers is vital. Plus, they are a breeze to pack.
Have enough storage containers for food. We purchased a second set of containers because there wasn’t enough of the right size. I was throwing a packing fit, so we picked up some more. A really important factor for me is having enough food once we arrive at our destination so I don’t have to cook right away. I usually cook at the places we stay at, but I need to shake of the road first.
3. Pack Foods that Travel Well
I can’t say enough about this. There are some foods that just won’t make it. Tomatoes are tricky, but I take them because we like sandwiches when we are traveling. But usually the softer foods, unless preserved properly won’t make it. Apples, jicama, oranges, watermelon, nuts, seeds, and potato chips are all good choices. If I take lettuce, the leaves get washed, dried, and then stored in a container — and I only take enough leaves for three or four sandwiches.
4. Pack More than What You Need
Something might come up. You might get stuck somewhere where there are no options except for a few nuts. Or you find yourselves hungrier than expected due to exertion or changes in weather/climate/altitude. Plan for contingencies – and for late night munchies if you’re driving round the clock.
5. Know Your Destination
Do your research beforehand. If you are heading into a city that is devoid of vegan fare, look for options. Is there a Chipolte’s or a local restaurant that offers plant based entrees? We are going to Austin this year and I just found out about the vegan trailer park, where you can get vegan barbeque followed by a vegan tattoo! Otherwise plan where you can shop and cook once you arrive. And don’t forget that you’ll have to restock your car for the trip home.
These tips will help get you started on a truly great vegan traveling adventure. When we hit the road later this month I’ll be posting photos of our food, road views, and dining destinations. Look for a video from the trailer park and whatever we find in Houston. I am looking forward to returning to a certain pizza parlor in Topeka that had fabulous gluten free pizza layered with vegetables. They also have a fabulous 1948 Champion mixer. This thing is almost as tall as me!