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Packing for a Chowhound Trip

What does a Chowhound pack for a trip that a non-hound wouldn't pack?

I almost always take a cooler--to bring home food finds that must be kept cool. But I suppose that's an obvious answer.

The NYT obituary of R.W. Apple said that he sometimes traveled with a pepper grinder.

Any other ideas?

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  1. Apples and cheese are our road-trip staples, usually in several varieties.

      1. re: beevod

        yeah or atm card if you're in a different country

        1. re: choctastic

          Be cautious, though, and always have local cash. I can't count the number of times the ATM networks in Europe have decided to part ways with their North American counterparts, leaving me without any way to use either my credit card or my ATM card.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            good point. this is especially true recently.

        1. Hotel and restaurant rating guides.

          1. A box of ziploc bags. A laptop with links to local info, and a folder with all the info I preload. An extra tote bag.

            1. *Laptop with WiFi to log on to Chowhound.com

              *Extra $$ for chowdounding

              *Not necessarily a tangible item, but scheduling extra time to go chowdounding.

                1. Not just a corkscrew. Make sure you can open bottles and cans as well.
                  I carry a set of flatware plus a sharp knife for snacks in hotel rooms. Now these have to go through as checked baggage.

                  I have a peppermill just like Johnny Apple's.
                  Also a bottle of Tabasco has saved a lot of airline food and befriended many a flight crew.
                  Extra sugar/atrificial sweetener packets - hotel in-room coffee service never has enough.
                  Immodium. Sooner or later...

                  Important if you bring back "groceries" from abroad: I carry a list from USDA and US Customs of the products allowed at different ports of entry - they vary for different airport and border crossings! Sometimes the a customs agent will try to take away something perfectly legal. Show them the rule!

                  A small cooler that folds flat for day trips, picn

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MakingSense

                    I made sure to take Tabasco to Austria because I thought I'd get tired of bland food. Guess what I saw for sale in the market the first day I was there?

                    1. re: Glencora

                      Tabasco is sold in more than 160 countries around the world, and the labels are printed in over 22 languages and dialects.
                      But I'm from New Orleans and take NO chances! You have to have it on the plane.

                    2. re: MakingSense

                      Most international airports now have USDA kiosks that will let you print out a list before you leave home. Good to keep in mind.

                    3. My preferred hot sauce, a Swiss army knife, hard copies of Google maps for restaurants I have scoped out before hitting the road.

                      1. Fruit and nut or some other kind of granola bars, or packaged peanut butter crackers - some kind of easily-totable snack food that will fit in a pocket or small bag. Very often when we travel and are hitting nice restaurants, our days don't fit our usual eating schedule - we wind up with very full days of sightseeing and running around and don't eat until pretty late. It's nice to always have something like that in a jacket pocket in case one of us is starving and we're out and about and it's still an hour or two until dinner. (One of us gets extremely cranky when he's not fed on time. And it's not me.)

                        1. Corkscrew in checked luggage a small knife in there too is handy. If it is a car trip, coolers, insulated bags, picnic kit...plastic plates, flatware, wet wipes. I took hand sanitizing wet wipes to London with me in October you cannot carry hand sanitizer on the plane so the foil packets were handy also they had little bulk and weighed nothing but to be able to clean your hands quickly and easily after being on public transportation or up and down the esclators in the tubes was very handy when you are snacking on street food. I keep those things in my glove compartment now. Did not take a lap top but the Blackberry or 8125 do a great job connecting to the net and they weigh a lot less. Car trips the lap top goes along too. We used to take along a 2 C. Krups coffee maker on car trips but DH is now a tea drinker and while I like coffee it is not a must have for me. The model is now discontinued but it was the perfect size to fit in a picnic basket.

                          1. Nice 'n Clean wet naps in individual packets.

                            Popeye's fried chicken has Crystal and Tabasco hot sauces in packets, I usually ask for lots of them on a quarterly food slumming trip. These make the difference on airplanes. When I arrive somewhere I usually pick up bottles of the local hot sauce.

                            Multiple zip-loc baggies in all sizes. How did we travel before these were invented?

                            My squishable cooler with a comfortable shoulder strap.

                            A couple of Clif bars and a bottle of water.

                            1. my perfex pepper grinder, and a cast iron skillet. plus a good chef's knife. You never know when you might be called upon to do some cooking.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: toodie jane

                                I hear you about the knives. If I know there's a good chance of my cooking, I pack a small knife roll with an 8" chefs knife, and a paring knife at minimum. Depending on the circumstances, I might include an instant read thermometer and a pair of tongs.

                                Also, if I've had a chance to pre-research Chowhound, I'll add the info to my Palm, with directions already figured out.

                              2. wow, a cooler? are you flying?

                                I'm in the tabasco, ziplock bags, apple, cheese, splenda, camp. I also now, with the liquid restrictions, travel with green graps in a ziplock box.

                                When I remember, I like to bring a baggie of lemon or lime pieces too.

                                And, more and more often, I'm tucking a little box of antipasto items into my bag as well.

                                And for longer trips, some fibre tablets -- too much rich eating on the road etc.

                                1. A laptop or, alternately, a list (with maps) of places to try.

                                  Packets of Tapatio sauce for airplane food (they DID allow these through my 1-qt. clear plastic bag -- not sure if they SHOULD have, but they DID).

                                  A bottle of Brioschi.

                                  A culinary phrasebook (I actually love Berlitz for their "restaurant guide" sections).

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    Where do you get the packets of Tapatio? It's a great idea, but I've never heard of it before.

                                    1. re: Glencora

                                      Some Mexican restaurants in the L.A. region (where both Das Ubergeek and I live) have Tapatio packets to go. I'm gonna steal this idea.

                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        From Norm's restaurant in Burbank, home of the belly-bomb breakfast burrito. I should enquire as to their provider.

                                    2. pepper grinder with tellicherry peppercorns, 2 stage cork puller, a few plastic bags, 1 or 2 hot sauce bottles (Franks and/or Jalapeno pepper sauce will do) and tums and gas-x for the mistakes I encounter.

                                      1. A travel spice kit. I have this one, but got it for a cheaper price (this was just the first link I found), and changed the ingredients out in some of the containers to suit my tastes. Compact and lots of variety, for all your emergency seasoning needs :)


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: juster

                                          Holy Cow!!! I can't believe some zealot of a Customs official somewhere hasn't figured that one of those little tins must have dope in it! Then you have to get detained for hours while they rip your luggage apart, search you and ask a million questions.

                                        2. We carry a small spiral binder which we've affixed a clear diskette pocket to front flap. Since we do a lot of "culinary sightseeing" (we drive a lot of food circuits and its not unusual for us to go out of our way to visit a dairy, winery, chocolate maker, etc.) we like to take notes on what we've tasted. The diskette pocket is for holding business cards.

                                          Tote bags for carrying products. Some producers don't have bags and quite frankly, I don't like bringing home so many "throwaway" bags. We have an insulated bag for cheese. We have a 9-pocket wine tote that we bring with us.

                                          A lunch-sized paper bag for trash.

                                          1. When travelling, I like to 'eat local' in order to experience my destinations for what they have to offer. Suggestions from locals is both a fun way to meet people, but also a great way to quickly assess the dining landscape. "person-on-the-street" is not paid to provide an opinion, they offer their perspectives based on their own experience and preferences. It makes for interesting exploration. Amoungst the duds I've discovered some real jewels.

                                            However, while airborne, I prefer my own meal to that of sky caterers. On my most recent six-hour journey, while others were having mass-produced air fare, I dined on a salad of heirloom tomatoes, charcuterie, nicoise olives and pacific tuna dressed with an EVOO-based vinaigrette (one-ounce container was sufficient, and well-under the FAA fluid volume limit) and accompanied by slices of artisan bread. Dessert was fresh raspberries with a dark chocolate truffle. While I had to serve myself and prepare it all, I would like to think I had the better deal.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                              I don't recall the magazine I was looking at, but about 6 months to a year ago some food magazine had about five or six recipes for food you could make and take onto an airplane. They were (iirc) salads and sandwiches and the like--similar to what you're talking about taking on a plane.

                                              I'd be a bit scared to take fish on a plane because of the odors (especially after I took a bad cross-country flight because I insisted on taking some stinky cheese on-board), but perhaps there are preparations (such as your evoo-based vinaigrette) that effectively mask any potent odors.

                                            2. All of these ideas and suggestions have been interesting and insightful. I hope there are more forthcoming. Probably my favorite so far is "expandable pants". My wife and I got a good laugh out of that one.

                                              1. The Slow Food guide, Jane and Michael Stern's Eat your way across the USA, and a laptop to access chowhound and and other chow sites!

                                                1. I love this post!

                                                  Well, a digital camera specifically to take close-up photos of food and menus (others bring cameras, too, but not necessarily to focus on "close-ups".)

                                                  Moleskine notebook & pen to take notes.

                                                  Camping utensil set (where the knife/fork/spoon nest.)

                                                  Cloth napkin (instant placemat.)

                                                  Defintely a food-focused dictionary and/or listing of key words.

                                                  Listing of food "specialities" of region I'm visiting.

                                                  And I make sure to read the section of the guidebook that discusses tipping and dining etiquette.

                                                  And, I second the imodium!


                                                  1. A neat folder of print-outs about local restaurants and foodstuffs with address and directions.
                                                    Stevia, Tazo chai tea packets, TJ's unsweetened dried pineapple, a high-quality dark chocolate bar (especially if going to Latin America -- no good chocolate to be found!), a food magazine for the plane ride for when a novel becomes tedious

                                                    1. Great question!

                                                      In my van I keep a bag w/ all sorts of paper & plastic supplies, PC soy sauce, a jar of Tabasco, wet naps, etc. I bring a cooler that I refresh w/ motel ice nightly &/or I bring coldpaks to re-freeze overnite when staying w/ others.

                                                      I buy quality bread & hard cheeses that I pre-slice 1st; stuffed grapeleaves & other stuff like olives from the supermarket olive bar (finger foods that keep very well); hummus, tabooli, & baba ghanouj (but these don't keep more than a day or 2 even well-chilled); my scratch brownies (that keep very well at room temp. in plastic containers); & fruit; yogurt & my own granola. Also good pretzels like Herr's & Terra Chips for emergencies.

                                                      I don't want to waste time & gasoline looking for supermarkets, etc. I spend lotsa time on chowhound before I go scoping out our destinations. How very grateful I am for this site!

                                                      I've always bring my wine tote with a couple of wine glasses & a corkscrew inside. I bring a mixed case of wine that I use as house gifts & mostly to drink in the BYOB restos that are my preference. This way I avoid the poor selection & price-gouging that are too often the practice at restos.

                                                      The suggestion about bringing chef & paring knives was excellent since I too am asked to cook when staying w/ others & very often they have dull, crappy knives.

                                                      Thanx 4 listening,