Actually, the way we managed food throughout the trip proved to be cost-effective and time-saving. Our original intent with the food plan was to keep from eating too many calories at restaurants, but really this experience turned out better than either of us expected.

We brought quite a bit of food with us. We knew we would be gone about 28 days, so we packed 20 days worth of non-perishable food each. We supplemented this with periodic stops at grocery stores to pick up soda, juice, fruits, vegetables, low-calorie snacks and drinking water.

We each had a flat storage bin that we packed with the non-perishable foods. Although we included breakfasts in our packing, we later discovered that most of the hotels we stayed in had complimentary breakfasts, so we ate that and saved our breakfast foods for the rare occasions that we did not get breakfast with the room. For lunch we brought meal replacement bars and tuna / chicken salad. We carried small amounts of snack food and apple sauce. For dinner, we had pre-packaged microwaveable meals that did not require refrigeration or freezing. If we had a microwave available, we heated the meals up in that. If not, we ate them at room temperature.

We carried a Koolatron cooler (see the Gadgets page) to keep perishables cool. This cooler plugs into the car outlet and also has an AC adapter that enables it to plug into a hotel room outlet.

We carried gallon containers of inexpensive drinking water that we replenished at grocery stores for less than one dollar. We purchased inexpensive Nalgene water bottles from Target before the trip and kept our bottles full at all times. Drinking lots of fresh water helps with adjustment to higher altitudes and of course, it prevents dehydration when taking hikes through the various parks.

So, the biggest advantage to all of this was that we had lots of extra time in our day to do relaxing things and produce the materials for this web site. Since we ate in the car or the hotel room for lunch and dinner on most days, we estimate that we gained back 2.5 to 4 hours per day that would have otherwise been spent driving to / from restaurants, ordering, eating, paying, etc. This made the trip more fun for both of us and we still did go out to eat when we wanted to.

One of the things that surprised me the most about the food considerations is how many hotels offer microwaves and / or refrigerators. Some of them come with the room. Some hotels have guest microwaves in the complimentary breakfast area. Some hotels will provide you with your own microwave and / or refrigerator if you request it. I only ate 3 or 4 dinners at room temperature and at least two of those times I could have made arrangements to heat it.

The only thing I would change on a future trip is to bring fewer breakfasts. It’s important when you are traveling to get a good start with some good nourishment. Shortchanging breakfast is not a good idea when you are about to take a couple of hikes through national park land. I would travel with just a few breakfast items so I could get by in a pinch and would rely on having a good breakfast provided by the hotel or at a nearby restaurant.

© Karen Bell 2012