Whether it’s driving home at the end of the semester, taking a spring break road trip, or visiting out-of-state friends or relatives, chances are that most of us will eventually spend an extended amount of time in a motor vehicle. With that in mind, given my proclivity for long road trips, I thought I would offer you all some food-related tips before you start driving. Every piece of advice that follows arises from a personal experience. My hope is that those coming after me don’t nearly get into an accident over the last Ritz cracker dropped on the dirty, dirty floor of their car. You’re welcome in advance.
As the age-old adage goes, “If safety isn’t your first priority, then none of your other priorities matter!” So, to start, here are some food safety tips:
First, be sure to have any and all food you are bringing set within arms reach when you start driving. This will prevent you from having to reach behind yourself, unzip your duffel bag, and throw all of your dirty clothes across the back seat in an attempt to grab a half-open box of cereal. In the same vein, be sure to plan a little bit in advance—stuffing the Cheerios box from November into your duffel bag in case you get snacky is not a good strategy.
Second, if you drop food on the floor, just leave it. This is to prevent the cracker situation, detailed above, from happening to you. Leave it alone because it is dangerous, but also leave it alone because your floor is disgusting and you will probably catch some kind of infectious disease. Would it kill you to clean your car once in a while?
Third, and perhaps most important: DO NOT take a bite of that $1.99 Taco Bell burrito (subbed beans) while you are switching lanes. This is imperative to the safety of yourself and everyone else in your vehicle. When you inevitably forget to check your blind spot because of the distraction of that sweet, sweet rice-and-cheese combo, and your side-view mirror nearly gets clipped, you’ll gasp in surprise and fear as you navigate back into your lane. That gasp, if you’ve got just a little too much of that melt-in-your-mouth wrap of liquid beans in your mouth, could be the end of you. Only take bites when you are safely moving straight forward. This will also allow you to alternate between eating your burrito and sucking down entire taco sauce packets.
Now that your food is secured and you’ve practiced safe eating habits, you’re ready to hit the road. Stock up before you go, particularly if you are driving through any of the states close to Connecticut. Driving through New York state, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts will only spell disaster if you haven’t prepared food in advance. The highways here are barren, devoid of exciting food opportunities. I suggest grabbing a wrap from Swings before you leave, and whatever easy and portable snacks your dwindling point budget will allow you to buy from Weshop.
Since it is important to remain alert on the road, stay away from the tempting sugary snacks in vending machines at convenience stores and rest stops along the way. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh! That sugary snack in a vending machine is at a state-run rest stop! It must be okay to eat! The state government wouldn’t willfully put me in danger by feeding me things that would make me tired!” It’s not an unfair thought, and it means you have a wonderfully optimistic way of looking at your state government. Too bad you’re wrong. Those bastards just want to sell their candy bars. Don’t fall into the trap.
That being said, it’s a good idea to stop once in awhile to get a snack. You’ll kill two birds with one stone (vegetarian metaphor: you’ll pull up two carrots with one yank) by fueling up your body and giving yourself a rest from being on the road. My suggestion is to take a cursory look at the options along your route before you hit the road so that you aren’t stuck halfway through Pennsylvania with no coffee shops for hundreds of miles (a slog and a half, for those of you that haven’t done it before). The best state for road trip food that I’ve passed through is, surprisingly enough, Ohio. So if you’re traveling from Wes to, say, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus, to have your second date ever with a person who is worth the drive, you’re in luck. Enjoy the frequent Starbucks stops and lunch options—they’re a luxury you won’t get traveling through many other states.
That about does it. Be sure to eat a good breakfast before you head out, get plenty of sleep, and always remember that stale leftover pizza is a perfectly acceptable driving snack. Keep these food tips in mind, and you’ll have the road trip of your life. Good luck, drive safe, and stay full.
Spencer Arnold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.