Expert Advice: Carrie Rollwagen and Her Secret Travel Weapon
Summer Vacation can be great, but it’s filled with hidden pitfalls:
skipping meals in the rush to make a connecting flight; getting stuck at an Airbnb that doesn’t provide coffee; finding out your hotel is within walking distance of 14 cocktail bars, but that none of them serve actual food.
What happens when all you want to do is relax and have fun, but all the comfort foods of home are out of reach?
The secret weapon of a summer vacation that doesn’t leave you hungry or stuffed full of overpriced and unhealthy snacks. I started packing my own food for planes, trains and road trips a few years ago, and I’ve never looked back.
My travel picnics are great ways to prevent misery due to travel delays, missed connections, and really serious snack attacks. The biggest surprise? How much better I feel when I eat real food instead of chowing down on the salty and sugary snacks sold in airports, gas stations and vending machines — and how much money I save by skipping the $15 airport panini.
But as much as I love traveling with snacks, there’s a limit to how many protein bars you can stuff in a suitcase (believe me; I’ve tested the limit). So what do you do on the return journey? And what happens in the middle of the trip, when all those theme park sodas and boardwalk funnel cakes have you craving some real food?
Good news — a Shipt subscription travels with you! Resetting your location just takes a few seconds (here’s a quick guide to swapping your Shipt location), and you can bring groceries, along with a friendly face and that bright green t-shirt, to your home away from home. Shipt can also be a lifesaver if you’ve forgotten to pack sunscreen, contact solution, or any of those tiny little things that are easy to forget but hard to live without.
So, what’s in my travel lunchbox? Here’s what my Shipt shopper is hunting down for me while I’m scrambling to pack my suitcase before heading off on a trip:
- Peanut Butter Sandwiches
The humble PBJ is often overlooked once we’ve aged out of middle school, but these little sandwiches stay fresh for hours, taste good even they’ve been smashed by luggage, and have enough protein to keep me satisfied. They’re also comforting and really tasty.
- Rice Crackers
Packing something crunchy and a little salty helps me not be tempted by vending machine chips, and most rice crackers are a much healthier choice. Sometimes I’ll throw in a hummus pack for dipping, too.
Fruit helps keep me hydrated, and I like to have something sweet. Grapes are nice because there’s no peel to throw away.
- Babybel Cheese
Wax-wrapped cheese (or string cheese) can last for hours without being refrigerated, and it’s really tasty (and good with rice crackers).
- Baby Wipes
It’s not always easy to find a place to wash your hands while traveling, and airplanes and trains can be a hotbed of nastiness, so baby wipes are a convenient way to get a little peace of mind.
- Almonds or Trail Mix
Nuts have enough protein and fat to help keep me satiated during a long trip. They don’t need to be refrigerated, and they’re easy to pack. Perfect!
- Protein Bars
Let’s be honest: Those $10 mini-bar candy bars can be tempting, and a good protein bar can be a healthier way to beat a chocolate craving. I like Quest Bars (especially the S’mores flavor), but almost any protein bar is easy to throw in a carry-on.
Carrie Rollwagen is the author of The Localist: Think Independent, Shop Local and Take Back the American Dream. On her two-month book tour, she traveled by Amtrak — and she packed a lot of snacks.