Packing for a Road Trip and Cottage Vacation

Lee and I know how to do a good road trip. We've done many over the past six years. We're good at it. That's a good thing seeing at every year we make the 15-16 hour trek to Prince Edward Island. (It was every other year for awhile but we've bumped it up to every year.) One of the things we love the most about going to PEI -- besides seeing family and going to all the beaches -- is that we rent a cottage. And one of the things we love the most about having a cottage is we have a kitchen.

Greenwich beach, PEI

Packing for a cottage is different than packing when you are staying a hotel. Sure, we still have to pack all the clothes and the beach stuff. We also load a box or two with kitchen stuff. Yes, we are aware there are stores in Prince Edward Island. That's where we buy all our fresh produce! But we also have a really well stocked pantry and it just seems silly to use to pack things we have extra of at home. Why pay $5 for a teeny-tiny bottle of olive oil when I have a Costco-sized container in my pantry? That's just silly.

So here's what is sitting on my dining room table ready to be packed:

  • Pancake syrup. In other words, not maple syrup. Something not generally allowed in my kitchen but everyone has their vacation thing, right? 
  • Pancake mix. I made my own last year. I'm lazy this year. 
  • 1 box of pasta. We have a gazillion in the pantry. Okay, may not a gazillion. But at least 10. 
  • Jasmine rice. See above. 
  • Coffee. Because coffee. 
  • Mustard. Last year showed us that we probably didn't have to pack condiments but we're packing these just in case. 
  • BBQ sauce. Because you always need it on vacation.
  • 1 mason jar filled with olive oil. 
  • 1 mason jar filled with balsamic vinegar. 
  • Hot sauce. 
  • A small mason jar filled with Worchestershire sauce. (Looking at this and going, "Hmm. Worchestershire sauce and hot sauce. I bet they are planning for Caesars." You are right. Give yourself a gold star.)
  • Homemade spice rub that's good for pork and chicken. 
  • Trader Joe's spice rub that's excellent for pork and steak. (It has coffee in it. We love it.) 
  • Lemon pepper. (It's excellent on corn. Try it.)

That's actually really light for us. We often pack more than that but last year we ate out a lot. Based on the list I have going we're probably not going to eat a whole besides breakfast and a few dinners at the cottage. 

When I asked my friends on Facebook and Twitter what they packed, I got some interesting answers. A lot of people pack a good knife and I'm really tempted to pack one of mine. But as I said, we won't really be cooking all that much. I think the most taxing thing I had to chop last year was potatoes. Also, I was just reading Nigella's Kitchen and she doesn't pack knives. I feel like she gave me permission not to. Thanks! 

Some people pack immersion blenders and I'd be tempted to if we drank more smoothies. Someone else suggested special equipment like a crepe pan. I understand the thought behind it but we keep things simple. The most complicated breakfast will be bacon and eggs. 

It was also really interesting to hear from people who stay at family cottages rather than ones they've rented. They included suggestions like bottled water in case the drinking water wasn't awesome but when you rent out a cottage you have to have your water tested and prove it's safe. They were also more likely to include things like toilet paper, which are included with your standard cottage rental. 

We don't pack fresh produce because we are driving so very far. We'll only go part way to PEI on the first day, though we do the whole drive on the way back. Attempting to keep food cool for more than 24 hours is just a pain in the butt when we can buy it locally but we do have one caveat -- we pack fresh food for the first day of our road trip. 

Road trip snack time!

A few years ago we did three big road trips in about four months. But the end of that last road trip we were so tired of fast food and rest stop food. Last year we tried a new plan and we loved it. It worked out so well we didn't stop for snacks or lunch the first day. It rocked. (We stop and grab breakfast to go. Because coffee.) So in our cooler we'll be packing:  

  • Carrot sticks. 
  • Cucumber sticks. 
  • Grape tomatoes. 
  • Cheese cubes. 
  • Crackers. (We're currently very fond of Nut Thins.) 
  • About half a leftover homemade pizza. (We're having it for dinner tonight.) 
  • Beef jerky. Because it's not a road trip without beef jerfy. 
  • Gobstoppers. (Our road trip candy of choice. Though we might toss in some Bottlecaps too, because we can.) 
  • M&Ms. 
  • A case of water. 
  • Gingerale. 

Because last year was our first time, we had a bit of a fail. We thought we could just use napkins to hold our food. We were so wrong. Things kind of tended to roll, especially the tomatoes. One the way home (we stop the cooler both ways) we used red solo cups. They work perfectly and are cheap. A real bonus of using cups is the driver can stick one filled with nibbles in their cup holder. 

We felt so much better when we arrived at our destination than we eat typical road trip fare.  Also, when you are only stopping for coffee and bathroom breaks (and to refuel) you'll get to your destination way earlier than you thought you would allowing you to have a lesuirely dinner out. Of course, we had a bit of an um issue when we went out for dinner last year. Maybe I'll tell that story later this week. (Hint: PATRIARCHY.)