The great downside of road trips (in Australia at least) is that the food you get along the way is notoriously and spectacularly awful; on the whole greasy fast food designed for truckies with a death wish.
Make and take as much as you can yourself. It might seem a hassle initially but you will know what your children are eating, you’ll spend less money, it will make the journey much smoother and it also means you don’t have to stop as often. If you have a child with any sort of food allergy, this is absolutely essential.
Fill plenty of water bottles so that everyone has their own to sip from. If you’re travelling in summer, freeze a half-filled bottle the night before you leave then top up with cold water before you go – you’ll have nice iced water for much of the trip. And always take more water than you think you’ll need. It’s not nice to run out.
Consider travelling with a couple of thermos flasks. Fill one with tea or coffee for Mum and Dad (or iced coffee if you’re travelling in really hot weather) and one with milk (or hot chocolate in winter) for the kids. Milk-based drinks can often help children nod off, if they need a sleep.
You’ll be able to buy icy poles and juices at petrol stations along the way.
A typical food list for a 10-hour drive might looks like this:
- Fruit, cut into bite sized pieces for constant snacking. Watermelon and rockmelon are always popular and refreshing. Pears and larger stone fruit do not travel well (and go brown if you cut them up).
- Whole apples
- Whole bananas in containers to prevent squashing (but make sure these are eaten early in the trip and skins discarded)
- Frozen yoghurts in tubes – (less mess, no spoons needed). They defrost but stay cold
- Biscuits/mini muffins, as healthy as possible
- Rice or corn cakes/dry biscuits/oatcakes
- Peeled hard boiled eggs, cut in half or quarters, sprinkled with salt and pepper
- Sandwiches (with simple fillings like ham or cheese and salad – with chutney or mustard for adults – or Vegemite)
- Lollipops or jelly snakes, administered sparingly and strategically
Pack food in small soft-sided cool packs with ice packs that can be easily moved around the car, and placed beneath children’s feet.
Milk freezes well and defrosts more slowly than water, so a frozen litre bottle can double as a large ice pack. It also means that you’ll have milk for later in the journey or at your destination (great if you arrive late at night and will need milk for a toddler first thing the next morning).