Roadtripping Hippies: the down and dirty details

As I described earlier this week, Aaron and I recently undertook at 5 day roadtrip with crockpot in tow and frugality, taste, and minimal waste in mind.

Here are all the down and dirty details.

About that crockpot…

1. Where did it sit in the car? Did it tip over? Did it make a mess?!

I was concerned at first that the crock would tip over or, in the very least, slosh its contents a bit. I planned to nest it inside an old, cracked Tupperware container. HA! I quickly discovered that the crockpot gets WAY too hot for plastic, so I just sat the thing on the flattest part of the car floor I could find. I also rigged the lid with some rubber bands and a tea towel. The bands kept the lid securely in place and the towel wicked at any escaping steam. It totally worked. No sloshing or tipping whatsoever (newer crocks normally have a lid-securing doohickey built in, by the way).  

I will mention that the meals I prepared were not particularly sloshy to begin with, so that probably helped. I cooked lentil taco filling and macaroni and cheese (we put veggies in it, so, that makes it okay, right?) in the car.

Spreading a doubled-over towel underneath the crockpot might not be a bad idea next time. Wouldn’t hurt.

2. Did the cooking food aroma not make you hungry/queasy/a bit of both?

 If anything the yummy food smells actually made it easier for me to ignore the foodie advertisements on the side of the highway. A Cracker Barrel billboard ain’t got nothing on a simmering pot of goodness RIGHT UNDER MY NOSE! (My friends know I’m really saying something; I am such a sucker for Cracker Barrel’s quaint, rustic, ‘southern’ marketing.)

Also, when I started getting whiffs of the food it was almost time to stop and eat anyway. It wasn’t a problem at all for me. Aaron didn’t complain either. Woohoo!

3. With the cost of the electric inverter and groceries, was the crockpotting really more frugal? Was it worth the trouble?

Yes, actually. The inverter cost about as much as 1.5 meals “out” for us. By lunch on the second day of our trip the inverter had paid for itself. If I consider the convenience of being able to power my laptop, etc. I am even prouder of the purchase.

Trouble? It did take work to prepare our own food, but, my goodness, what an incredible problem to have! Having to work a little bit to put wholesome food—that someone else planted, harvested, shipped, and sold—in our mouths...

I do not take lightly the privilege of getting to make these decisions. I do not take for granted that I have the luxury to CHOOSE to do these things. And, honestly, since I am among the relative few able to choose sustainable habits, I think I’d better. It is my duty and my honor.

So, was it work? Yes. Was it trouble? Not at all.

It was worth it.


Now, about that waste-free nonsense…

Making as little waste as possible is very high on my personal agenda. On the one hand it is harder than you’d think. Yet, on the other hand, there are some VERY clever ways to get around your very own mound of plastic poo.

Here’s what we did on our trip:

1. We used real table-settings.

The Crazy Plate Lady strikes again! Our blazing red table-settings totally made the trip with us. The plates went into the food storage bin, the serving utensils stayed in the picnic basket, and I kept clean silverware in a plastic storage container my mom gave me once (it was filled with her famous mini-quiche then—yuuuum!).

At night, that storage container doubled as a washbasin when Aaron and I did the dishes. I brought our own dish soap and a couple dish cloths, which we hung in the hotel closet to dry! I really wish I had a picture.

Next time I will most definitely pack ALL THE TABLE THINGS into one grab’n’go bag. I just about cussed the first time we stopped for lunch. We had driven a smidge too long and I was sitting pretty in a full-out state of hangry.

I had to go to the car




for necessary table stuff. 


Lesson learned. Definitely gonna fix up a grab’n’go table bag. With extra everything.

2. We were water bottle warriors.

Gas stations aren’t ONLY for gasoline, people. Most places will let you refill your bottle with ice cold water for FREE. It’s great.

I might consider bringing a large water cooler sometime in the future. Which, evidently, the kids are monogramming these day.

3. We packed awesome snacks.

Snacks are priority on the road. They just are. In our family, popcorn is The Stuff and if we are not careful, this bag of goodness can bring us to our knees.

It calls from the shelves of almost every convenience store. Good thing we have a secret weapon in our quest for waste-free deliciousness:

Now we grab kernels from the bulk wall at Whole Foods, pop at home, and then hit the road. We love it.

I also packed apples slices, carrots, peanut butter, and a few cookie treats (also from the bulk wall). We were happy travelers.

4. We used upcycled jars and beeswax wrap for food storage.

I’ve got a thing for jars and beeswax wrap anyway, but after this trip my appreciation has grown even more. They are watertight, multi-purpose, and lightweight. They both worked perfectly in the cooler. Like, perfectly.

Check out the wrap here.

Full disclosure:

  • We DID have to buy bagged ice three times on our trip. That meant three plastic bags—we’ll use them to pick up Barkley’s poop at some point!
  • Also, I really like those monogrammed water coolers. ;)
Our dog Barkley.

Our dog Barkley.

So there you have it. All the down and dirty details from our 5 day roadtrip. I would love to hear any advice or questions you may have. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at leannacoylecarr at gmail dot com. 

How do you and yours make travel more sustainable and fun?