What Not to Eat During Road Trips

Posted By

Ravi Goel

This week’s post is on the lighter side, like funny habits of travelers or top attractions for kids. (To be honest, those were funnier than this piece, but this one is more helpful.) I’ve just returned from another work road trip to Kune Mission, Lonavala and while I know this isn’t my classiest habit, I eat a lot of breakfasts and lunches in my car. The long distances between the wonderful small towns of Maharashtra pretty much demand it.


While my diet is by no means free of junk food, I maintain that the most pleasing road trip food is not junk food, but healthy food. For a lively discussion of food choices, transportation choices and other diamond-cut life topics, here’s a podcast in which I appeared.

Loads of research has made clear that distracted driving is dangerous driving. I’ve logged so many road trips and car meals; I’ve developed a diamond-cut standard of best and worst eating practices aimed at minimal driving distractions, plus eating pleasure, plus nutrition. Today, let’s tackle the worst practices.

  • Foods you’ve never eaten before: When you’re out on the open road exploring new parts of the country, it’s tempting to try some of the unique local specialties. Trouble is if you’ve never eaten a particular food before, you don’t know exactly how it will affect your digestive tract and your brain over the next few hours. If you really want to be adventurous in what you eat, do so after you’ve stopped for the night. At least you’ll have the night to recover if something doesn’t agree with you.

  • Pudding cups and things that have lids or require spoons or two hands: They make a mess, and once they hit the floor, you’ve got pudding or Jelly everywhere. And the last thing you want to do at midnight when you get home is clean out yogurt from underneath the car seat.

  • Milkshakes: They sit so heavily in the stomach they could make you fall asleep. Falling asleep at the wheel would be the worst possible practice. Heavy foods in general aren’t the best road trip food, in my view.

  • “Iffy” Foods: Got a sandwich on the passenger seat that’s been there just a little too long, and you’re not sure if the mayo is turning? A hard-boiled egg that smells slightly “off”? A carton of milk that’s a bit warm? Don’t risk it. You may be setting yourself up for a highly unpleasant (and time-consuming) bathroom stop. Better to waste a few dollars’ worth of food than to make you sick.

  • Huge Burgers & Sandwiches:Sandwiches that use messy items like mayo, tomatoes and lettuce, which make your sandwiches soggy and leave your car covered in drips, smears and messy fingerprints. Things that come in large portions you can’t divide, like cheeseburgers. “Kids will have a bite and set it down, but where?”

  • Cookies: Possibly you love to eat these while driving. I’m not here to rain on your road trip parade. I have a personal policy against cookies for three reasons: they’re addictive, with no natural stopping point; their sugar content gives me too much of the wrong kind of energy; they create more crumbs in my lap and car than Hansel and Gretel needed to find their way back out of the forest.

Well, I think these tips will make your trip a little more scrumptious. Drive safe! Travel healthy!

Written by Ravi Goel