Some of my favourite vacations have been road trips. You can go wherever you like and stop any time you want to sightsee, exercise or sample local cuisine.
And you don’t have to frequent fast-food drive-throughs because healthy, delicious, even exciting eating can be a fun part of the adventure.
Before you go, sit down with your travel mates and discuss snacks to pack in the car.
In the nibbling category — whether you’re a meat lover, vegan or on a gluten-free diet — hummus, guacamole, peanut butter and other nut butters fit the bill and don’t have to be kept icy cold. Pack crackers, plain or gluten-free pita chips, cut-up raw vegetables, or pretzels for dipping.
You can buy travel-size containers of snacks along the way, but you can also make your own before leaving and put them in a reusable container. One of my friends who travels with her grandkids gives each one their own reusable container so they can put whatever they like in it and wash it out at the next stop.
Nutrition and snack bars are always handy for a quick bite, especially if you’re walking or hiking away from the car. Read the nutrition labels carefully. Look for ones with fruits, nuts, seeds or whole grains at the top of the ingredient list and six grams or less of added sugar. If you have time, make your own.
Make your own trail mix and personalize it to everyone’s taste. Use a variety of cereals, dried fruits, seeds and, if there are no allergies, nuts.
Make a thermos of cold soup such as gazpacho, cucumber or fresh berry.
Roadside stands and markets are wonderful places to get farm-fresh produce. Choose fruits and vegetables with staying power that won’t go mushy such as peppers, carrots, radishes, edamame, snow peas, watermelon chunks, grapes and apples. Freshly picked and steamed corn on the cob at a farmers’ market can be a real treat.
And what would a road trip be without sandwiches? Pack basic sandwich-making equipment so you can pick up fixings along the way. You’ll need knives for slicing open buns and spreading toppings. A few damp reusable cloths in a sealed plastic bag are always a good idea.
If you’re making take-and-go sandwiches, start with sturdy rolls — whole grain, ciabatta and baguettes are good choices. Wraps, also, tend not to get soggy. Chickpeas and black beans make good fillers because they’re protein-rich and don’t need refrigeration. Top with avocado, tomatoes or any greens that you like.
Invest in a good cooler and keep it in the back seat, not the hot trunk. Add ice packs or ice in reusable bags so they can’t leak. Remember: Everything must be cold before you pack it because it won’t get colder in the cooler.
As you plan your route, check out parks and rest stops. Some offer fresh water for replenishing water bottles, and you can get some exercise by stretching, running, throwing a Frisbee. If you have bikes with you, use them.
Talk about the kind of foods you love to treat yourselves to — barbecue chicken, date turnovers, smoked meat sandwiches. Google to plot tasty takeout spots on your route map.
Oh, yes: Remember you are on a holiday, so be kind to yourself and leave any “all or nothing” attitudes at home. Allow yourself indulgences — that’s part of holiday fun!