This week, let’s talk about road trip picnics. I really like to pack our lunch for our first (and sometimes, last) day of travel. We prefer our own sandwiches to fast food, especially when traveling. A couple of my kids deal with car sickness and it really helps to have control of the food choices. Not to mention that it’s much cheaper to pack.
I won’t talk too much about what to pack. We’ve covered that pretty well already.
I do want to share some tips I’ve learned and I’d love to hear yours too!
Where to stop for a road side picnic.
When you’re on a long trip, trying to get where you’re going, you don’t want to spend a lot of time looking for a place to eat. Convenience wins big over scenic views in this case.
Rest stops are an obvious solution. Many of them have picnic tables. We’ve found that as you enter most states, there are Welcome Centers that tend to be a notch above regular rest stops.
Tip: It’s nice to have a roll of paper towels to use as place mats or even to sit on if the benches aren’t the best. Although, the adults tend to eat standing up to counteract all the hours in the car.
Eating in the car.
We’ve found it’s best to get out for a break, but there are times when it makes sense to eat in the car. If it’s raining, you may want to skip the picnic. Heavy traffic occasionally makes it hard to to stop.
Just in case you end up needing to eat while driving, pack the cooler where an older child or adult can get to it. Have that person pass out the lunches and drinks.
Tip: For snacks like boxes of cheese crackers or grapes, small paper cups work great for handing out individual servings. These are also easy for the driver to eat from.
Strategically splurge on treats.
If you’re looking at 8-15 hours in the car, you can bet you’re going to need a few treats. Here are a few things that have worked for us in the past:
- DumDum lollipops and Jolly Ranchers – It’s fun to choose a flavor and the small candy lasts a while too.
- Planned afternoon breaks that involve purchased treats like soft drinks, coffees, or even ice cream.
- Treat bags – When the kids were little, I would pack a bag of small games, toys, stickers, etc. I tried to aim for one treat per hour. Some of the most successful items were masking tape, pipe cleaners, dry erase markers (to use on the windows), and blank notebooks. The car was usually a mess when we arrived at the destination, but everyone was was (relatively) happy.
I’d love to hear your tips!
Many of us will be hitting the road this summer for long trips. Share what works for you and your family in the comments.