Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner (and so is the Summer), and many of you will be going on the road for some family fun and adventure! Yay!!!
Whether it’s for a quick weekend getaway, an extended weekend, or the beginning of your early summer vacation, it’s always good to be adequately prepared for each trip–most especially when you’re traveling with kids!
Some Lessons Learned While Traveling On The Road With Kids
It helps to have the right amount of food supply in your vehicle to keep your little passengers happy–and if there’s anything we learned (pretty quickly) after being on the road so many times, you have to choose your food (and snacks) wisely. You can easily put on some “extra baggage” around your waist if you’re not careful!
Pack Healthy Food & Snacks, Or Else…
Sure, potato chips, soda, juice, chocolate bars, and other quick-and-yummy snacks are easy to pack, but so is packing on the extra weight!!!
Pack Extra Food And Provisions To Avoid Unwanted Situations
Stopping to eat at a restaurant may not always be feasible (or safe) when you’re in between destinations, and road trip safety gets especially challenging when you have younger children (including infants)!
Stopping to get some snacks and / or use the bathroom at Rest Stops, Service Areas, or even Gas Stations may not always be safe depending on the time and location. We have been approached by strange people with strange stories asking for money, while walking or while inside our vehicle —it doesn’t matter if the place is populated or not and whether it’s broad daylight or otherwise.
Of course, there’s always traffic not to mention getting “chased down” by a severe snowstorm from Maine to South Carolina–and you have no choice but to stay in your vehicle and keep driving! You’d most certainly want to be prepared and equipped to handle such situations!
How To Pick The Right Travel Coolers For Your Family Road Trip
While you could easily get away with not packing any travel coolers, you tend to become more predisposed to unwanted encounters (and unwanted body weight) as mentioned above.
Choose The Right Size
Choose the right size that’s adequate for your family size, being careful not to go too big or else you’ll lose some valuable cargo space for the rest of your stuff. Don’t go too small, either, as you need to factor in some extra space for the ice packs!
If you’re planning on bringing back “souvenir food” like cheese, fish, barbeque, etc., make sure you allocate enough space for these, too.
Choose The Right Shape
Travel coolers come in various shapes. We personally prefer the square or rectangular ones that have a flat top so that we could easily stack other items on top, whenever needed.
Choose The Right Type
So far, we’ve seen styrofoam coolers, standard insulated coolers, and plug-in, electric coolers (the ones that you can plug into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter).
– For durability, we have chosen to exclude styrofoam coolers.
– For reliability, we opted not to choose the electric coolers (as most of the reviews mentioned that they’re not really that great at preserving perishable items other than keeping your drinks chilled).
– So, we’ve chosen to stick with the standard insulated cooler although it can be a hassle replacing the ice packs often.
Supplement With A Personal Cooler
We have found that supplementing with a personal cooler between some or all family members helps to lessen the need to access the “main cooler” in the back. This little cooler will have enough food to cover a meal for each family member. Because it’s small, it’s easy to pass around! Be sure to include other essentials like disposable forks, spoons, knives, etc. (so you might want to consider choosing a personal cooler that comes with a lot of pockets and/or compartments). We replenish these coolers (using the food in our main cooler) whenever we are able to find a safe area to park our vehicle.
How To Maximize Cooler Space
Making everything fit perfectly into your travel cooler without compromising the freshness of your food could be a challenge. So much so, finding food items could get pretty cumbersome if you don’t have the right system in place.
Chill Bottled / Canned Drinks Sparingly
To maximize cooler space, we don’t typically fill it up with drinks because we could easily stop at 24-hour drive-thrus for those (but we do keep a decent stash of unchilled bottled drinks for emergencies).
Pack Smaller Items (Or Repackage Larger Ones)
Because we have a large family, we tend to buy food items in bulk. Logistically, it’s a pain to have to apportion and distribute fresh food to all members of the family while in a moving (or stationary) vehicle. So, we have begun repackaging food in smaller food storage containers or resealable baggies so it’s pretty much a grab-and-go deal whenever we get stuff out of the cooler. This maximizes cooler space as well as eliminates the need to put stuff back into the cooler. This also helps to keep the rest of the food fresh! To replenish, we simply go to a grocery store shortly before a hotel stay and we repeat the repackaging process there.
So, there you go! Hope you were able to find some golden travel nuggets from our family road trip experiences.
Looking for more road trip organization and storage tips?
- If you’re looking for ideas on how to store less frequently used (but highly essential for survival) items, check out this post: Road Trip Organization and Storage Ideas #1
- If you’re looking for ideas on on how to store smaller, more frequently used items, check out this post: Road Trip Organization and Storage Ideas #2
What kind of road trip food storage solution does your family use? Feel free to drop us a line to share some great solutions that have helped your family during your travels. Please keep checking back as we post some of our recommended best travel coolers!
Now go have some fun and hit the road!
Disclosure: As of the time of writing this post, AltamonteFamily.com is by no means affiliated with any of the companies or organizations mentioned in this article. AltamonteFamily.com has not been compensated in any way nor has AltamonteFamily.com been influenced to write about these products. This post is a result of the personal observations and independent research of members of AltamonteFamily.com. All opinions solely belong to AltamonteFamily.com.