road trip kitchen

Create a Road Trip Travel “Kitchen” to Easily Pack Your Food

Therese Iknoian Mar 04, 2021

Planning a road trip but want to minimize or eliminate eating out? Even if you’re staying in hotels on a road trip, a “kitchen” organized in packing cubes keeps food and gear easy to access, making cooking on the road a breeze. And if you plan to camp along the way? This packing cube “kitchen” works well for that too! 

Road trips have never been as popular as they are right now. And for good reason. They help you conveniently explore your own state or region, staying footloose and fancy-free. Even if you will stay in hotels, however, packing and organizing your own travel “kitchen” will allow you to easily cook on the road, thus eliminating eating out or fetching take-out.

With packing cubes as your travel organization tool, bags won’t end up topsy-turvy in a trunk or on a back seat, they won’t tip and spill, they won’t tear with use, and you can even color code your supplies, snacks, and gear, then just pop it all into a wheeled duffel to get in and out of hotel rooms easily, or a convertible backpack duffel if you’re heading to a campsite.

 

How Many Travelers Need Food?

To get started with your own travel kitchen—one that works for road tripscamping, and more— consider what food you need based on how many travelers will need to be supplied. Also consider if this is a family road trip or camping vacation. This will help you pick out the cubes, sacs, and duffel that will best accommodate your travel kitchen needs for cooking, meal preparation, and eating.

 

How to Pack Your Travel Kitchen for Cooking Ease

With enough cubes and sacs, you can separate personal utensils, from cooking and serving utensils, from non-perishables, from perishable food items—color-coded naturally—so when tummies announce the arrival of mealtime, you can easily find what you need in your well-organized travel kitchen. 

 

Organizing Cooking Gear: 

The Pack-It Gear line is ideal for much of your road trip “kitchen” because it’s water-resistant, has an exterior that can be easily wiped clean, and holds its shape with its sturdier materials. Particularly, the larger Gear Cube MX3 is superior for stacking your (hopefully eco-friendly) plates, bowls, mugs, a small cutting board, and other heavier or bulkier items such as a can opener. Use the mesh zipper pocket inside of the lid to hold smaller accessories, such as a bottle opener, a small basic kitchen knife (be sure to put a cork on the tip to avoid any inadvertent owies!), or even a few storage bags. You can even consider using an extra small or small Pack-It Isolate cube to add additional organization inside your Gear Cube for spices, or in addition to your Gear Cube for example, for napkins.

For a travel kitchen that works for camping, also bring a portable and collapsible fabric camping sink, so you can fill it with water when you need to wash dishes, but fold it up when you’re done. For clean up, pack biodegradable soap and a travel towel. Throw all your gear in a roll-top sac (this shoe sac actually does a great job) that you can easily cinch it onto the outside of your backpack, or put in the trunk of your vehicle. 

In addition to your main travel kitchen gear, be sure to pack a tarp when camping (in case of rain, you can avoid cooking and eating on a wet, muddy ground), resealable bags (for leftovers), trash bags, and aluminum foil. Add in a few carabiners, which you can use to clip items on your bag or hang up your bear bag. For any larger items that won’t fit in your backpack (like a travel stove), consider putting them in a plastic storage bin or their own wheeled duffel that you can easily carry or roll to and from your campsite. 

 

Organizing Travel Food:

An additional Gear Cube MX3 (or whatever size or shape suits you) can hold items like cans or soup or chili, shelf-stable tuna packs, packages of pasta, boxes of crackers or other non-perishable goods. If you have a larger quantity of non-breakable, non-perishable items (maybe a traveling companion is a big road trip snacker and can’t do without plenty of chips or cookies), consider a lightweight Packable Duffel that can be carried separately and easily accessed when cravings hit. 

For smaller perishable items—such as apples, yogurt or cheese—that may need to get transferred into a hotel fridge from your car ice chest, another larger Isolate Cube will do the trick for easy in, easy out—with their advantage of containing odors, too.

If you’re creating a camping kitchen, consider this: When it comes to cooking meals while camping, the simpler, the better. You can easily pack into your cubes freeze-dried fruits, oatmeal, jerky, and other food that you might find at an outdoor supply store. Bring plenty of clean water for drinking, as well as cooking and cleaning. If you want beverage options aside from water—like tea, coffee, or flavored drinks—pack powders and instant mixes that you can easily add to your water. Store drinks and drink mixes in a sealable packing sac or roll-top sac that will keep out insects.

 

Organizing Kitchen Utensils:

Now, what about utensils? For your personal knives, forks, and spoons, try the PACK-IT Gear Quick Trip or a PACK-IT Gear Pouch, depending on your tastes or size and quantity of items. You will love the Quick Trip because it has a roomy inside zipper pocket for smaller items, such as measuring spoons or a corkscrew. 

Then there are all those cooking or serving utensils that may be required for your safe road trip, for example, if you cook up basics in a hotel microwave or have your own hot plate for in-room meals. For those, the longer PACK-IT ISOLATE Slim Cube will be your best friend since at more than 14 inches it can easily hold non-breakable spatulas, serving spoons, a vegetable peeler, or ladle. 

Now that you have made Marie Kondo proud of your travel kitchen organization, it’s time to pack it all up for getting into and out of hotel rooms or over to picnic tables easily. For that, you’ll need a duffel that opens wide, is wheeled, and is super sturdy, like the Migrate Wheeled Duffel

Next up after all that organization? Fun! Road trip adventures that help you feel good, remain independent, see something new, AND stay safe with your new packing cube travel kitchen.

Iknoian

By Therese Iknoian * With additional reporting by Caroline Eubanks

Every step of traveling is a thrill for Therese Iknoian. From dreaming and planning, to seeking local gems unseen by most travelers, to finding time to get to know locals, all in search of a great story for the HI Travel Tales blog she runs with her husband. Join the Subscriber Club to track her travel adventures and advice and get a look at her award-winning photographs.