diverse family members toasting at holiday dinner

Traveling might be most people’s least favorite part of the holidays. Having to travel with homemade foods can make it even more of a hassle. If you’re looking to bring along some prepared foods for your Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations, think ahead and make a plan before you start packing up the car. You don’t want to end up with dry ham or a smashed pumpkin pie! Here are a few tips for traveling with food for the holidays so you can keep your food fresh and secure on the drive ahead.

Keeping food cold

Freshness is always a big concern when traveling with perishables. Ideally, cooked food shouldn’t be allowed to sit at room temperature for more than two hours. If you happen to be celebrating the holidays in an area where temperatures remain at 90 degrees or higher, then cut that time in half. You’ll want to make sure you have an ample amount of storage containers. Store your perishables in small, airtight containers, and stack them inside of a larger cooler with ice to keep them cool. While this transport by cooler might be a bit cumbersome for a longer trip, it can be quite effective. If you aren’t a fan of cooler storage or you aren’t carrying a large amount of food, purchasing an insulated storage bag could be a more practical alternative. Reusable storage bags might cost a bit more, but they get the job done and can be used over multiple holiday seasons.

Keeping food hot

In contrast to keeping your food cold for freshness, there might be some foods you want to keep warm until you arrive at your destination. Depending on how far you need to travel, there are a few methods you can employ to keep your food warm. You can use glass containers, which retain heat better than other materials. Aluminum foil is another great choice for keeping food warm over shorter distances. If you’ve got food that needs to be kept warm over a long drive, using the same insulated bag you use for cold storage will do the can do the trick for keeping your food hot. You can even purchase electric heaters that plug into your car’s lighter outlet if you need to keep meals steaming hot.

Keeping food level

The road can be a bit unpredictable at times. With unpredictable weather, increased holiday traffic, and road conditions all playing a factor, your foods are likely to take a serious tumble if you don’t take the time to secure them. The best way to secure your food is with proper containers. Make sure containers are level, appropriately sized, and have securely fastened lids. Keep heavier items on the bottom of coolers or and storage bags with lighter items on top. Clear a space in your cargo hold, trunk, or floorboards so you can keep food on a level surface. If you have more food than will comfortably fit in the trunk, you can ask your passengers to hold food and keep it steady on the way.

With a little planning, traveling with your food can be easy. Remember to make plenty of level space for everything you need to travel with, even if it means taking that extra time to clean out your vehicle beforehand. Make sure all containers are properly closed and stored and take your time when packing up your food before you head out onto the road. That little bit of extra time spent will go a long way in making sure everything arrives safely.

Don't let winter weather cause your food to take a tumble!

Stay safe with these Winter Weather Driving Tips.

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