It seems like none of us can travel anymore without bringing food along. From water to snacks to full meals, we rarely take a trip without having a tocked car. Here are some ideas for keeping food convenient, contained and safe.
The first rule of food safety is keeping the food at a proper temperature to avoid bacteria. When cold foods start to warm, or warm foods start to cool, bacteria can begin to accumulate. It is important to decide in advance how to keep the foods at their proper temperature. If you are transporting a hot food and are not traveling very far, you can probably keep it warm in an insulated container. If you have any doubts, it is better to transport it chilled, and reheat it later.
There are several items that can help keep food at the ideal temperature. The old standby cooler, can keep items cold or warm. Pack cold items in ice, and wrap warm items in a towel and include microwaved heat packs. If you travel with food often, consider buying a thermo-electric mini fridge that can plug into your vehicle’s 12-volt accessory port.
Each year, one in 6 Americans get sick from food poisoning, with foodborne illnesses increasing in the warm summer months. The first thing to consider when carrying food in your car is to limit the chance of bacteria multiplying.
Another aspect of food safety when traveling is to ensure the food container is properly secured. Carrying a hot dish of food on your lap is an accident waiting to happen. Not only can it spill, but it can also become a projectile during a sudden stop. It is best to travel with food safely in the trunk, or on the floor in front of the back seat. Secure the dish so it doesn’t become a distraction.
If you and your family are consuming snacks in the car, it is important to keep them accessible to someone who can retrieve the snacks without being distracted from driving. While some people may think they can munch on a hamburger and talk on the phone while driving, this behavior can quickly turn into an accident.
Convenience when Traveling with Kids
If traveling with children who will be eating snacks on the road, keep the snacks contained by creating individual servings in zipper top food bags. It’s a good way to keep track of how much your kids are consuming and it hopefully prevents the snacks from ending up all over the car. Choose snacks that don’t create a lot of crumbs and mess. If you want to prevent squabbles over food, pack a separate bag for each child. On long trips, you will want to do everything possible to keep your trip safe, neat and peaceful.
Whether you are bringing your own snacks or picking them up along the way, carry a good supply of napkins, eating utensils and wet wipes. Bring trash bags and a few cleaning supplies along and engage your older children in the task of keeping the car clean.
Taking a few extra steps to prepare for the trip ahead can help make your travels with food enjoyable and safe.