The Ultimate Food Adventure Road Trip with Chris and Tiarra

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Manage episode 237888510 series 2279816
By Chris Kretzer. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Planning the ultimate food adventure road trip is essential for a smooth vacation packed with fun stops, amazing food, and memories that will last a lifetime. This podcast episode is filled with fun stories about our food adventure road trips all around the United States. From our experience with both long and short trips, we have developed our own system of planning and enjoying the country's wide open roads. For more specific details of what we talk about, please reference below! Planning
  1. Use Roadtrippers.com and download their app. The Roadtrippers website and app is an essential tool we've used for all of our road trips. Just go to the site, and see for yourself the power of organization behind the planning tool. Arrange stops, attractions, and restaurants with a simple click and explore the whole United States at your fingertips. The site also gives estimates on gas prices, the time between stops, and money spent while on the road. Download the app to have a quick reference on the road. Roadtrippers.com is guaranteed to make you trip amazing.
  2. Look to blogs for places to eat and attractions to visit. Locals know the best places to chow down! Take it from someone who's visited and eaten around the city to give their true opinion about a place. We trust other foodies wholeheartedly because of their pure ambition and love for food. If you read that a dish is good and cross-reference it on a foodie's website, you are guaranteed a delicious meal. Locals also know which attractions are worth the time and money. Pay attention to their advice and choose based on what works best for your itinerary
  3. Avoid Holidays. If you have vacation time off during a holiday, odds are, everyone else does too. Forget about traveling to well-known landmarks and cities, unless you love long hours waiting in traffic, overpriced and underwhelming food, and wading through masses of people. Plan your vacation away from national holidays whenever possible. Understandably, if this is unavoidable, avoid the flocks of tourists and head towards lesser known areas of the country. Do your research here, because an awful way to spend a vacation is at an uneventful location.
  4. Find the must-try restaurants for a regionally specific food. The whole purpose of a food adventure road trip is experiencing the wonders of our nation's food scene. Every city, state, and region of the country is known for its own specific cultural dishes. To find the best here is my best research tactic: -Google "what food is *City* know for." Make a list of the city's best options and take note if the references already name a few restaurants. -Pick a dish and google "The best *dish* in *city*" Wallow through the results but pay attention to food blogs. If multiple sites bring up the same dish in the same restaurant, you are probably discovered something delicious. -Make notes and put this restaurant in your Roadtrippers guide for later reference. Here are some examples of what we have experienced during our food adventure road trips: -Chicago Dogs at Super Dawg in Chicago, IL -Buffalo Wings at Bar Bill Tavern in Buffalo, NY -Main Lobster Rolls at Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, ME -Coney Island Dogs at Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit, MI -Key Lime Pie from at the Key Lime Pie Company in Key West, FL -Burgers at Louis Lunch in New Haven, CT -Blackberry liquor at Whidbey Island Distillery Langley, WA -Crawfish anywhere in Louisiana -BBQ Beef Brisket at Franklin BBQ in Austin, TX -Pizza at Pizza Suprema in New York City, NY -Fast Food Burgers at Dick's in Seattle, WA -Ribs at Central BBQ in Memphis, TN
  5. Plan out those awesome roadside attractions. We love roadside attractions! In fact, sometimes we love the fun places we stop more than the food we eat along the way. Every state and city holds a hidden gem that is bound to make for an interesting adventure. Keep in mind the hours of operation when planning your trip. Most attractions close in the late afternoon. Do not waste time driving off route to a cool attraction to find a closed sign hanging in the window. Pay attention to the cost, because some attractions cost exponentially more than the time investment. Think about how long you plan to stay there, and if the money makes sense for the attraction. When you leave, do you feel you are getting your money's worth? No one wants to stand in line for three hours at the Willis Tower in Chicago eating up all of your planned time for the day. Unfortunately, sacrifices are made when seeing attractions and unless you have an unlimited time table, fitting everything in is impossible. Pick and choose your favorites and stay the course. Here are some of our favorite Roadside attractions: -Largest Ball of Stamps in Boys Town, NE -Tallest Filing Cabinet in Burlington, VT -Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE -Largest Revolving Globe in Yarmouth, ME -Holding a baby alligator in Jennings, LA -Worlds Largest Czech Egg in Wilson, KS -Jello Museum in Leroy, NY -Largest Truck Stop in Wolcott, IA -Niagara Falls in NY -Willis Tower in Chicago, IL -Driving through a Redwood tree in California -Driving on Lombard St in San Francisco, CA -Bragg Farm Sugar House in East Montpelier, VT
  6. Try to visit national and state parks. State and national parks provide an exciting avenue to explore the natural beauty of our country and experience the outdoors. National parks have special memories for us camping under the starts next to a roaring fire. Every park is unique with its landmarks and attractions, so take a day or two to explore your surroundings. If you plan on visiting multiple parks, consider the National Parks pass which pays for itself after three visits. Some of our favorite National parks are: -Grand Tetons -Yellowstone -Glacier -Badland -Rocky Mountain -Redwoods
  7. Pack an emergency roadside kit. Prepare yourself by anticipating a roadside emergency. Bring a roadside emergency kit with at least the following items: jumper cables, flares, first aid kit, and a flashlight. Some other good prep items to consider: LifeStraw, blankets, and waterproof matches. Yes, these items may appear unnecessary, but a quick Google search reveals countless stories of people getting trapped in their car in the middle of nowhere waiting for help to arrive. A little preparation goes a long way and gives peace of mind.
  8. Make an awesome road trip playlist. Listen to us carefully. Your playlist will forever link your memories to your food adventure road trip. For us, we listened to late '70s, '80s, and some folk to mix up our daily jam list. Make several playlists based on your mood, weather, and location. Driving in the mountains? Pop on the Lumineers. Raging through traffic? Try Van Halen. Always remember that music adds to the overall mood and memory, so choose wisely!
  9. Google Maps is God. When it comes to navigation, we always choose Google Maps. Time and time again Google Maps proves its faithfulness and dependability no matter the time of day or occasion. If Google detours you off the highway, then there is probably a good reason for it, like an accident or road construction. If you have a co-pilot navigating, they should look ahead to see the issues and confirm the detour. Trust Google Maps and avoid a world of frustration.
  10. Be creative about sleeping arrangements. Long food adventure road trips can eat through your funds quickly. Not only are you spending money on gas, and super delicious food, but sleeping arrangements often rack up the highest costly. With cheap hotels averaging $75 night, keep an open mind about how and where you sleep. We converted our 2018 Chevrolet Traverse into a go anywhere, sleep anywhere machine. We used makeshift window covers to block out sunlight and give privacy, with a blow-up mattress fitting perfectly for our bed. We used campgrounds, Walmart parking lots and rest areas for the majority of our places to sleep. This saved us thousands of dollars over the years and helps us to focus our money on what we care about most: FOOD! If you want to avoid sleeping in your car, we recommend Airbnb for the community, customer service, and the pricing. We rented out a whole one bedroom apartment in Austin for $20. Yes, you heard me. We have stayed in hotels, apartments, houses and rented rooms through Airbnb, and the service and ease of use could not be better. Even if you need a room in a pinch, Airbnb can help.
  11. Prep your vehicle. This sounds basic, but make sure your vehicle is road trip ready. Double check tire tread, get the oil changed, top off fluids and clean the interior. No one wants car trouble or needing maintenance on the road. It wastes time and money. A tow truck at 2 am is going to cost double than during normal hours, so do everything possible to keep your trip moving smoothly. Trust us on cleaning the interior. A clean car that smells good makes all the difference.
  12. Pack Dehydrated and Non-Perishable Foods. With your food adventure road trip budget set specifically for dreamy eats in your new destinations, it's important to save money on your other meals. For us, focusing our money on special foods remained a top priority, so we saved money everywhere else. We packed freeze-dried camping food where one bag usually feeds two people. The good stuff costs roughly six to nine dollars a bag, so three to four dollars per person is not a bad way to eat dinner. Our favorite brand is Mountain House, with many delicious choices. Other low cost, no refrigeration food options are ramen noodles, oatmeal, soup mixes, hard salami, and canned meats. We pack a JetBoil camping stove for convenience, but before that, truck stops and gas stations have free hot water to use. We asked for permission, and no one has turned us down.
On the Road
  1. Stop for attractions that catch your eye. Planning for everything is impossible. Keep an open mind to your wonderfully planned agenda, and when a random attraction catches your eye, consider stopping. Flexibility makes road trips adventurous. One of the most random places we stopped was in South Dakota called Wall Drug. Starting in the east side of SD we drove hundreds of miles seeing nonstop signs for Wall Drug. It's an enormous convenience store, restaurant, pit stop, and attraction all in one building. It started off as a drug store in 1931 but morphed into the beast of Wall Drug we know today filled with old western style shops, life-size animatronic T-Rex, and a giant jackalope statue. We got our homemade donut fix while taking in the wonder of Wall Drug. This was totally unplanned but how could we not stop with the several hundred signs advertising the place! A super fun memory full of laughs, and delicious eats. Other fun unplanned stops: -Bayou Rum Distillery Tour in Lacassine, LA -Lincoln Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan, MT -Calm beach in off the highway in Islamorada, FL
  2. Pack a small cooler. Bringing a small cooler was a life saver for us. Our Yeti 20L Roadie was perfect for its small size, and god-like ability to keep our food cold for days without needing more ice. Although a Yeti is a bit expensive, any solid cooler will do. Make sure it's small (under 30L) and do not over pack. Walmarts and grocery stores are all over the country so pack only what is needed and buy the rest when the occasion arises. Ice does get expensive after a while so always opt for smaller coolers. We've made the mistake of bringing bigger coolers and felt it necessary to keep it filled with food and ice at all time. Spending an extra $150 on ice over the course of the trip was not fun!
  3. Audible is your friend! Endless hours on your food adventure road trip has dull moments. You've listened to the same playlist for the twentieth time, caught up on life with your fellow road trippers and the 180th mile in the Kansas plains looks the same as mile one. Audiobooks to the rescue! Nothing like a story to keep your imagination occupied to keep those 10 hours of driving at bay. We recommend Audible, as we listened to all of Harry Potter books, Enders Game, Ready Player One, We are Legion and many more. We pick nonfiction for its ability to make time pass quickly with easily digestible material. Take your pick of the thousands of novels and see your road trip get instantly better.
  4. Don't go overboard on the junk food. Junk food is synonymous with road trips. Big gulps, slim jims, red bulls and dried out hotdogs all play in our memories of fully caffeinated filled rides on the highway. Junk food, however, makes your body feel sluggish, tired and sick after some time, so when it's time to eat something amazing, your body may not feel up for the heavy and dense food. Stop at a grocery store and pack plenty of fruits and veggies, and when in a pinch, reach for a green Naked Smoothie from the gas station. Keeping healthy while on your food adventure road trip means your body can handle that Chicago deep dish or the Texas beef brisket. Too often we've been unable to enjoy a meal because we didn't lay off the junk food. Remember to eat those fruits and veggies!
  5. Adapt to changes when things do not go your way. Always expect something will go wrong on your road trip. A flat tire, a restaurant is closed or your amusement park day gets rained out. Keep a "go with the flow" mindset and take each challenge as it comes. Arguments and quarrels leave a black spot on these memories and often can ruin a whole trip. Before leaving for your food adventure road trip, have a little meeting with all the passengers. Discuss this open mindset and if the unexpected happens, keep a strong adventuring spirit.
  6. Stay around major cities for a few days. Road trips take you through all sorts of cities, but if you have the chance, stay in a big city for a day or two, and focus on the local restaurants and dishes that will make the trip worth it. Passing through Michigan, we stopped in Detroit for coney island dogs at Lafayette and American Coney Island, went to a chocolate factory and ate some Detroit style pizza at the legendary Buddy's Pizza. This took about the whole day and gave us a good look at the city and some iconic dishes to try. By the way, Lafayette Coney Island is the best hotdog we've ever tried and Detroit style pizza beats Chicago style. We understand if that make us enemies now.
  7. Be a great co-pilot. The copilot holds an essential job on the road trip. Navigator, DJ, and the lookout, to only list a few of the essential responsibilities of the copilot. Basically, take care of anything the driver needs so they can keep the focus on the road. On our food adventure road trips, I (Chris) am usually the driver and Tiarra the co-pilot, and I can give testament first hand how important it is to have Tiarra helping with everything I need. It's just one less thing to worry about that I know she is going to handle.
  8. Avoid rush hour. If you're passing through major cities between 3-6pm, you might run into traffic jams. If there is one thing on a road trip to make me irritable its unnecessary traffic. Seriously. I hate it. A rule we follow: if there is a chance of a traffic jam, stop at a restaurant or attraction and pass the time having fun instead of sitting in traffic wasting time and gas. Think about it. Sit at a nice bar, have a beer, and walk around town, or sit in a car crawling at a snail's pace. Avoid traffic!
  9. Driving in big cities can be stressful. When in doubt pay for parking and use public transport. Driving aimlessly through the confusing city streets trying to find parking or find out how to get to a main attraction can soak up hours filled with stress and worry. The best option is to bite the bullet pay for parking, and use public transport. Time in these cases can be more valuable than money, so spend it wisely. Find the local bus and metro system and use it for getting around the city. Most metro stops are within close distances of where you want to go anyways. Although it costs a little bit more, spending the extra time on making memories.
  10. Visit Local Restaurants, Orchards, Farmers Markets, and Roadside Stands. Learn this motto: If the locals are eating here, you should be eating here. No matter where you visit, you will always be a tourist, and generally, you will easily be noticed. Do not let this deter you from trying the amazing food every destination has to offer. From our experience, if you ask for help, the locals will be more than happy to help. Also, just because a place is small doesn't mean the quality is poor. Generally it's the exact opposite! Smaller local places have a long-standing history in the community and are known for making great food. Keep an open mind and find the little places. Farms, fruit stands, and shrimp shacks are the sort of places where you will have an unforgettable meal, such as these: -Discovering Snap Dragon Apples in NY, picking apples and -drinking fresh cider -Huckleberry Pie in Montana -Picking lavender from a farm in Washington State -Glenda's Creole Kitchen a few miles off the main road in Louisiana -Kokopelli Farm Market in Palisade Colorado for peaches and fried peach pie.
  11. Avoid Alcohol! Remember, this is a road trip so avoid the alcohol. Not just for safety, but for efficiency. The last thing you need is wasting hours sobering up before you can drive again. Plus the cost of a single cocktail can be more than an entire meal in a local restaurant. The only exceptions are if your road trip is based on alcohol tours such as distilleries and breweries. Even then, be careful before returning to the road.
  12. Look for regional snacks and food at convenience stores and gas stations. Sticking to regional foods, one of the most amazing and simplest ways to try local food is to browse the convenience store aisle. You will be surprised at how amazing potato chips and candy bars can taste when it's freshly made in a unique way right down the road from where its sold. Bakeries, restaurants, and fresh fried seafood can be found at gas stations all around the country. I still remember a Texas gas station with a full-on bakery selling Kolaches, a Czech baked bread stuffed with sweet or savory fillings, with heavenly sweet teas from companies all around the state. Totally awesome, and unrecognizable from the outside. These hidden gems are part of the adventure your road trip. Still have doubts? The Food Network TV show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives has featured countless amazing, local eateries found in gas stations. Take your time and explore the small and local.
We hope this podcast episode and blog post helps expand your ideas of your next food adventure road trip. No matter how long or short your driving, these tips will make your trip amazing.

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