Top 10 Cooler Packing Tips For Your Spring Road Trip

Top 10 Cooler Packing Tips For Your Spring Road Trip

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Road trips are one of the safer forms of travel right now. It’s easier to travel mindfully when you’re not sharing air with anyone that you don’t know.

One of the best ways to travel mindfully right now is to pack your own food! Along with eliminating unnecessary stops, packing your own food can also keep you and any road tripping buddies in the car from getting overly hungry and, let’s face it, grumpy.

Before you hop in the car, make sure you know the restrictions of any place you’re planning to go. The U.S. state restrictions are constantly changing.

Top 10 Cooler Packing Tips For Your Spring Road Trip

1. Pack in watertight, reusable containers

The first thing you should do is plan to pack your food in reusable containers. With all the of disposable masks, gloves, and wipes that we’ve been using to keep ourselves safe, the world has been having a bigger problem with litter and waste.

So make sure you’re not contributing to the problem, and pack your snacks in reusable Tupperware! These containers also make it easy to organize your cooler and keep your food fresh. Make sure your containers are watertight so that when your ice gets melty towards the end of the day your food stays fresh and water-free.

Food in glass containers

2. Freeze your water bottles

Double your extra water as your ice for your cooler! Use three or four large water-bottles. Fill them with water and let them freeze overnight before your trip. Every night, when you get where you’re going, stick these in a freezer. As they thaw throughout the day, use them for refills on your drinking water. Then you can refill the bottles and keep reusing them to keep your food cold!

Water bottle

3. Think about your breakfasts

If you’re planning on bringing your breakfast for you trip, a good idea considering the restrictions this spring, cereal or oatmeal and milk is a good way to go. This compact and easy to make breakfast is quick on mornings when you’re trying to get on the road. Bring some fresh fruit to add to your breakfast!

Bringing nut milk to go with your cereal is not only a more sustainable, and often healthier, choice than dairy milk, it is also a little more resistant to lower temperatures than dairy milk. Coconut milk in particular is resistant to warmer temperatures. Don’t let this fool you – it still needs to be kept as cold as you can keep it. But it will do better in a cooler than dairy milk.

Bowl of oatmeal

4. Pack your own gas station snacks

If you’re like many other people, road trips are often seen as a time to take a bit of a step back from normal diets. Buy up your normal road trip snacks from your local grocery store before you head out. Not only will this keep you from having to stop when you’re feeling snacky, it’ll also save you money! You can get bigger portions for cheaper prices on snacks in the grocery store.

You might consider keeping any non-perishable snack, like chips, chocolates, and party mixes, in a separate bag so that they’re not taking up space in the cooler.

women wearing masks carrying groceries

5. Or bring your own hummus!

If you’re looking to stick more closely to healthy-eating, bring your own healthy snacks! Homemade hummus and chopped carrots are a great way to go. This snack does well on a road trip – it’s easy to eat in the car, high in protein, and easy to make!

Put one can of garbanzo beans, the juice from one lime, four cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper into a food processor, blend it up, and enjoy on your trip! It’s great with carrots, pretzels, or chips. Another great road trip snack is pretzels and nut butter, and that snack doesn’t require prep!

snacks in car

6. Think about your lunches

If you’re wanting to make your own lunch on the road, bagels or a loaf of bread with a mix of toppings are a good choice. You can make classic PB&J’s or bring some lunch meat and cheese and make a meatier sandwich. It’s easy to throw together a sandwich in the morning before you hop on the road. And it’s easy (and not messy!) to eat sandwiches in the car.

Food in cooler

7. Think about your dinners

Making your own dinners is a good way to cut down on your contact in public spaces. Pack some spinach, fruits, and veggies to throw together a delicious salad! A personal favorite combo is spinach, chopped bell peppers, chopped apples, strawberries, white beans, and balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Another great road trip dinner idea is to make up some burritos and freeze them before your trip. They’ll help keep your other food cold on the first day, but if they contain meat, they should probably be used as your first dinner.

women in masks driving

8. Paper products

Don’t forget your paper products! These can go in the non-cooler bag with your non-perishable snacks. Bring a roll or two of paper towels so you have a way to clean up the car and the surfaces of wherever you’re staying. This separate bag can also be a good place to store your extra masks, hand sanitizers, and any other cleaning products you might have. They’ll be easily accessible and organized!

couple in masks driving in car

9. Beverages

Make sure any beverages you bring are either frozen or refrigerated, that way they can help keep the cooler as cold as possible. You might want to bring some caffeinated beverages with you for your afternoon pick me up. Bringing cold tea or coffee with you will remove the frantic search for good coffee on the road.

If you’re wanting to add something extra to your hotel-made dinners, throw a bottle of wine into the cooler! It’ll be nice and chilled when you get where you’re going.

Sustainable Travel Water Bottle

10. How to pack the cooler

The final thing you need to think about is how to pack your cooler. Packing your food in square containers is the first step in organized packing. Put your frozen water bottles on the bottom of the cooler bag along with your beverages. Put the more perishable things in the bag next – any meats, cheeses, or milk. Then put in the rest of your items.

Try to put the items into the cooler vertically. This will help make it easier to find your food! Also, put your lunch for the day close to the top of the cooler so you can grab it. Top it all off with another frozen water bottle, et voilà! You’re all set for your road trip!

Road Trip Cooler

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


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