Editor’s Note: Jennifer Hill is a member of LTV’s sponsored content team, The Leisure Explorers. Do you own a Leisure Travel Van and enjoy writing? Learn more about joining the team.
What does the term “road trip” mean to you? Often the word gets romanticized. The movies portray it as an adventure where people find relationships, extraordinary events, and even the meaning of life. However, in reality, road trips can be long, boring, and exhausting! Most of us don’t look forward to the road trips that require twenty-plus hours of attachment to the steering wheel to reach our final destination. These trips may become a necessity to see extended family or the means to arrive at a long overdue vacation. With aging parents on the east coast, my husband and I have found ourselves facing this sort of road trip multiple times in the last couple of years.
As a community of campers, or glampers, RV owners have a huge advantage over the average population, in that we can take our “homes” with us. We don’t have to drag suitcases into hotel rooms or sleep on questionable mattresses or leave our beloved furry family members behind. We travel down the road with the comforts of home. Even so, the long hours on the road can be draining and most of all, boring! Many of us tackle these trips with our eyes on the prize of our destination.
Having been in the position to make these trips multiple times, I would like to share with you some strategies I have utilized to add rest, character, and enjoyment into these trips – strategies that can turn the most boring road trips into memory makers for you and your passengers.
First of all, for me, it is helpful to place myself in a certain frame of mind. For example, even though I am facing a 4-day drive, I turn my mind away from the inconvenience and turn toward convenience. I consider taking my “tiny home” (as my husband and I often refer to our LTV Wonder) with me to be a convenience. Instead of thinking of a night on the road as stressful, I consider a night in a campground as an opportunity for a date night for my husband, David, and I to sit around a campfire and enjoy a delicious meal. Secondly, rather than scramble for food at unappealing roadside restaurants or unhealthy fast food stops, I plan ahead, stocking my refrigerator with fresh, healthy food for special meals on the road. With just a little thought and preparation, I can pull out of our driveway with a sense of excitement and adventure rather than a heart full of dread! I hope to inspire you, as you continue to read, with simple tips and wonderful recipes to make your next long drive a memorable one.
Most recently, my husband and I found ourselves facing a necessary road trip from our home in Colorado back to his childhood home in West Virginia, to deal with issues that arise with aging parents. A few days before our departure on this thirty-hour trip, I made a few simple food preparations to guarantee we don’t fall into the fast food trap of traveling. I froze meat for dinners for our three-night, four-day drive. I cooked a simple roasting chicken in my crock pot and roasted a pork tenderloin on the grill for dinner the night before we left. I made plans in my head for delicious lunches from the chicken and leftover pork.
We always try to make our longest driving days at the beginning of our trip. We have made this trip many times in our younger years in two grueling fifteen-hour days! Now, in our retired RV lifestyle, we have the luxury of stretching the trip out.
After almost nine hours of driving on day one, we pulled into our campsite in Salina, Kansas. We were pleased to be greeted with mid-80s temperatures and a great breeze. It was the perfect weather for sitting outside and starting up our little Weber Smokey Joe Grill. On the menu tonight was turkey burgers and baby kale caesar salad. Earlier in the day, we enjoyed Siete cassava wraps with sliced pork and avocado at our halfway point fuel stop. As the sun sets over the Kansas prairie, we settle in for a little relaxation and, of course, Netflix!
Day two takes us through the eastern hills of Kansas and into the green countryside of Missouri. After seven hours on the road, with a lunch pit stop of homemade egg salad on cassava wraps, we set up camp in Sullivan, Missouri. Once again, we fired up the Smokey Joe. This night, we celebrated the spirit of the heartland, whose guests we have been for the last two days, with beautiful, organic and grass-fed filet mignon! Paired on the side was charcoal-grilled bok choy and a green leaf salad accented with radish, carrots, and shaved fennel, topped with feta cheese and crushed pistachios. Once again, the sun set on a Netflix chill night that took us to the next day rested, with a great night of sleep.
Day three took us into the beauty of Kentucky horse country. Having put the two longest days of driving behind us, we set up our Louisville camp in mid-afternoon. As the sun went down behind the heavy trees at our campsite, we took a moment to relax beside a cracking fire while the charcoal flamed in the Smokey Joe for tonight’s mustard-marinated grilled chicken with charcoal roasted brocollini. We sat and enjoyed the fire after dinner this night, knowing that tomorrow would take us to our final destination, with the shortest driving day.
Day four brought us into wild and wonderful West Virginia! As Wanda Jane, our Wonder, cruised effortlessly through the tree-filled mountains, we stopped for a much-deserved lunch break. On the menu today was my homemade chicken salad from my organic roasted chicken. After a relaxing break in the comfort of our “tiny” home, we completed our journey to David’s childhood home, where we will spend time re-immersing ourselves with siblings, nieces, and nephews as we come alongside them in small town life for a few days. We took in the sounds and lights of Friday night football, then the glimmer and excitement of Saturday night fireworks, celebrating the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival. Sunday we were watching baseball while basking in the sun on a perfect fall day. We felt very blessed to have arrived safe and sound. Most of all, we were rested rather than exhausted and able to enjoy the festivities around us. The LTV lifestyle allowed us a memorable journey, where the only money spent was on fuel and an occasional toll. We have continued our healthy eating lifestyle on the road, thanks to the conveniences of Wanda Jane. She makes it possible to take all the pleasures and comfort of home on every trip.
For every one pound of ground turkey, add:
- 1/4 cup green chilis
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
Form into patties and grill to 165 degrees. Serve atop baby kale with caesar dressing and parmesan cheese.
Stuff chicken with onion, lemon, celery, garlic, and apple. Drizzle with olive oil and place lemon slices on top of chicken. Finish with salt and pepper. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 4-6 hours in a crock pot, or in a dutch oven at 350 degrees until the bird reaches 160 degrees.
Rub tenderloin with a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, minced onions, and red pepper flakes. Grill 4 minutes per side on high, then turn heat to low and cook until tenderloin reaches 150 degrees. Wrap in foil to let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- 6 grated, boiled eggs
- 2 tbs avocado mayonnaise
- 1 tbs diced pickles
- 1 tbs diced jalapenos
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
Serve on sandwiches, lettuce wraps, or tortillas.
I have a basic seasoning salt mixture that I use to rub on all the meat that I cook. This steak was rubbed with course sea salt, course ground pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. To get a wonderful crunch on the outside without over cooking the inside, I cook my steaks slightly frozen on the inside.
Mix shredded chicken with avocado mayonnaise, diced celery, diced apples, and crushed pistachios. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Mustard Marinated Chicken
Marinate chicken in:
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 1 tbs diced jalapeños
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
Place in freezer bag and freeze until ready for use. Grill over charcoal until chicken reaches 165 degrees.