This post is a companion piece to our other posts on saving money on food while traveling… Save Money: Ideas for Eating At “Home” Abroad, and The Joy and Practicality of Grocery Shopping Abroad.
We thought it would be helpful if we told you what you actually need to pack in order to achieve eating at “home” from your hotel or vacation rental, or to picnic like a pro. Here are a few lightweight, packable items we recommend, which are especially useful right now in a restaurant-avoiding, post/current-pandemic world:
- Wine key with bottle opener: Try the LEATHERMAN Juice CS3 multitool. This tool does not include a knife, which means it shouldn’t be confiscated at the airport
- Collapsible cups: These are great for when your hotel/airbnb/hostel doesn’t have glasses, or when you’re sharing beverages on a picnic. They come with lids and collapse to nearly flat
- Collapsible bowls: Along the same lines as collapsible cups, these are great for cereal/muesli or sharing snacks and leftovers.
- Packable utensils: If you’re shopping and eating at markets and plan to picnic, you may need something to scoop or stab your food with. Backpackers use lightweight multi-utensils (think: sporks) to solve this need. Here’s a two pack
- Picnic blanket: There are lightweight, packable, moisture-resistant blankets on the market that have enough room for multiple people, and which protect your bum and your food from the ground and pests. This one is sand-proof and waterproof
- Reusable water bottle: We like this silicone bottle that rolls up when not in use.
- Microfiber towel or cloth: Great for drying or washing dishes, as well as for drying yourself off after being caught in the rain. Here’s an option that comes with a few different sizes.
- Dish soap sheets: Super lightweight option for washing your collapsible dish-ware and utensils in the hotel sink. Yes, shampoo or soap should work just as well in theory, but some of those include conditioners or residues that you may not want on your dishes.
- Instant coffee and tea packets: You can shop for larger quantities of these once you arrive, but it’s nice to have something on hand if you arrive at your destination after shops close, or if you want to rest and refuel before going out again. Each of these options for coffee and tea (I love the Pique sencha and earl grey) come in tiny, packable sachets that can be dissolved in hot or cold water
- Tissues or extra napkins: Make sure to always have travel tissues on hand, or swipe a few extra napkins from the airport fast food stop. If your lodging is light on paper products, napkins will help you clean up food-related mess with something a little more robust than toilet paper
If you’re road tripping or not packing light:
- Cooler bag: Great for ice cream, frozen food, meats, cheeses, anything you’d prefer to keep cold. Having one of these greatly expands your food options. Some have backpack straps that make them convenient to carry while walking or biking
- Tabletop grill or camp stove: Sometimes vacation rental kitchens can be less than usable or even unsafe. Even if your kitchen is workable, there’s something great and party-starting about cooking outdoors. You’ve got a few options here…anything from charcoal to gas fueled. If you consider yourself a camper, it’s a good idea to invest in one of these anyway.
What’s on your packing list? Let us know!
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