Too Many Cooks: Summer Travel Tips

May 23, 2014

You'll be hearing from the staff at Food52 in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more. 


Wherever your summer adventures take you -- a faraway beach, a road trip down south, or maybe a stroll in the local park -- it's important to remain hydrated and well fed in the heat. Amid overstuffed suitcases or sunscreened fellow beachgoers, a perfect snack or a delicious drink can make or break your experience. Travel food can include anything from fresh-cut fruit and cheese to Doritos and sesame sticks -- it is vacation, after all. To capitalize on the summer eating season, we asked our team:

What’s your favorite food to pack when you're traveling during the summer?

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Do you pack PB&Js on the plane? What do you snack on during long road trips? Tell us in the comments!

Chocolate Cookies on Food52

Haley: Cape Cod potato chips are my go-to on the beach, even when they're sand-filled. For a road trip, I stick with whatever fruit I can get my hands on since stops usually involve fast food. And, because I'm afraid to be the person who stinks up the plane with their food or leaves crumbs everywhere, I try to stick to basics like a granola bar with a side of Skittles.

Jackie: I really enjoy freshly cut fruit on the beach -- hydration and refreshment, all in one. Melons, berries, grapes, pineapple, kiwi -- the more the merrier!

More: Learn how to keep berries fresh for longer.

Mixed Berries

Posie: This sounds so weird, but once a camp counselor introduced me to iceberg lettuce and peanut butter sandwiches -- it's genius for traveling, because it's okay to squish.

Catherine: When it comes to eating on the beach, I'm all about Flavor-Blasted Goldfish. The salt and the sand just add extra texture.

Lauren K: For the beach, I like to pack watermelon and beer, or sometimes watermelon beer. For summer road trips I bring along a chilled sweet potato tortilla espanola, or bread, cucumber, avocado, peaches, and cheese -- it makes a great roadside picnic.

Danny: For beach trips I like to bring a six-pack of the aptly named Tröegs Sunshine Pils (probably the best thing to ever come out of the state of Pennsylvania), along with a cooler full of turkey sandwiches.

Trail Mix

Kenzi: I pack GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) and some kind of bread and cheese. Usually a good cheddar or something sturdy, depending on how wild I'm feeling or how well-packed the plane is.

More: Find the best artisan cheeses wherever you are.

Lauren L: For the beach, I love chips and a cooler full of a fun drink. We also always have fried chicken from Herb’s Market, this great place in Montauk, for “Chicken on the Beach" nights.

Gabriella P: Sesame sticks! They're the odd food that I'll only buy if I'm on a road trip. And homemade sangria for the beach, because it makes the sand tolerable.

More: Bring your own batch of homemade sangria to the beach.

Stephanie: I'm a big fan of the bread, cheese, cucumber, peaches, cherries, etc. picnic approach to road trips. And cold noodle salads -- it's kind of like a salad roll, only messier and not as practical.

Cold Noodle Salad

Brette: I use road trips and plane rides as an excuse to eat all of the junk food I never eat otherwise -- bring on the Rold Gold pretzels, Doritos, and cheese doodles! All with a side of cold fountain Diet Coke.

Michael: I've learned from my wife that one should never board a plane for a trip of any length with less than a full day's supply of food. This supply must include at least one bar of dark chocolate. I also like dried mango.

Laura: I keep it pretty simple with plain apple and almond butter, dark chocolate for sure (Mast Brothers is the best), and trail mix (currently loving cashews and goji berries)!

Tell us: What's your favorite summer travel food?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Rachel
  • DessertByCandy
  • Sarah C.
    Sarah C.
  • CookOnTheFly
I put chocolate chips in 95% of the things I make and am a strong proponent for lunch dessert.


Rachel May 24, 2014
I don't care if it sounds weird, but I drink coffee and eat those peach gummy rings.
DessertByCandy May 23, 2014
The timing cannot be better. I just packed a whole basket full of road trip food to keep me well-fed and awake for an >8hr road trip. I munch on baby carrots and mini marshmallows to stay awake. A sturdy yet flavourful sandwich that can be kept at room temperature (today was toasted tempeh, provolone, sundried tomato pesto, romain lettuce on pretzel bun). Fruit salad is a must. Also ginger kombucha to calm the stomach. The picnic basket is the first thing I pack, even before my clothes and toiletries!
Sarah C. May 23, 2014
Green apples and those weird cheese/cracker sandwiches. Curbs the sweet/tart and salt cravings.
CookOnTheFly May 23, 2014
I'd recommend not taking a PB&J sandwich with you on the plane. If another passenger is allergic to peanuts the flight attendants will ask you not to eat it - not to even open the package its in, FYI.