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Planning a Road Trip Picnic

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Road Trip Picnics

How to plan the perfect Road Trip Picnic

Embarking on a road trip is more than just covering miles; it’s about savouring the journey. What better way to pause and enjoy the open road than with a roadside picnic?Roguetrippers picnic

Picture it: a checkered blanket spread under a sprawling oak in a pastoral setting. The sun shines brightly, birds chirp, and passing cars hum distantly. Watch boats go by as you relax on the banks of a beautiful river. Dine along a peaceful lake to the sounds of nature. Take in the awe-inspiring views that nature has provided while you and your travel companions take a break from the road and stretch your legs.

Whether you’re cruising along scenic highways or navigating winding mountain roads, a thoughtfully planned picnic can transform a mundane pit stop into a memorable culinary adventure. In this blog post, we’ll unravel the secrets of road trip picnics—from choosing the perfect spot to curating a delectable menu. So buckle up, fellow travellers, and let’s explore the intersection of travel and gastronomy!


Roadside Feasts: The Art of the Road Trip Picnic

Planning a picnic while on a road trip can be delightful. Here are some tips to make it enjoyable:

1. Location Selection for your Road Trip Picnic

  • Choose a picturesque spot. Look for parks, lakesides, or scenic viewpoints. The better the view or setting, the more enjoyable your road trip picnic will be.
  • Location considerations: Ensure your picnic location is safe, has parking, and is not too busy. You also do not want to drive too far out of your way, which can drastically affect your ETA at your destination.
  • Most provincial, state, local, and National Parks have picnic areas where you can sit at a table and maybe under a gazebo.
  • Fun Fact: We have often set up a road trip picnic in the hatch cargo compartment in the back of our SUV when we needed to for an impromptu road trip picnic.

What to Pack for a Road Trip Picnic

2. Supplies and Essentials for your Picnic

  • Picnic Basket: Pack a lightweight, portable basket or backpack. Ensure your food is secured, contained, and protected from temperature extremes.
  • Cooler or cooler bags will help keep your food and beverages colder and safer to consume when you arrive.
  • Ice Packs: keep your food safe while travelling with ice packs. Freezing bottles of water or juice ahead of time makes perfect ice packs. By the time you enjoy your picnic, these beverages will be ready to drink.
  • Blanket or Mat: A comfortable surface to sit on.
  • A Reusable tablecloth: A pretty tablecloth will help create the setting for your desired picnic. It also protects your food from dirty picnic tables.
      • Tip: Get a rectangular tablecloth instead of a round or oval one for more universal coverage on picnic tables.
  • Reusable Cutlery and Plates: Eco-friendly options are ideal. If you cannot bring reusable items, bring compostable items such as paper plates. Try to avoid creating landfill waste and plastic waste.
  • Napkins and Wet Wipes: For cleaning up. Every good road trip vehicle should always have wet wipes, disinfectant wipes, etc.
  • Trash Bags: Leave no trace behind. If there is no adequate trash system at your road trip picnic location, take your trash and dispose of it at a spot that does.
  • Cutting Board: A stable surface for cutting would be handy depending on what you plan for your road trip picnic.
  • Reusable sandwich bags and containers to minimize trash

 Picnic Tip: dollar stores are a great place to get a full set of picnic supplies at a low cost.


Check out our article on Common Road Trip Mistakes to avoid

3. Food and Drinks for your Road Trip Picnic:

When planning what to eat on your picnic, it is essential to choose food items that stay fresh and delicious without needing to be heated.

  • Finger Foods: Opt for easy-to-eat items like sandwiches, fruits, and cheese.
  • Local Flavours: Try local foods and specialities.
  • Fresh food: Stop into a local market or grocery store to pick up fresh produce, meats and cheeses, breads, snacks, and treats for your road trip picnic.
  • Beverages: Pack enough water, juice, beverages, or even a thermos of tea or coffee.
  • Frozen treats: Some items, such as grapes, berries, and other fruits and veggies, can be frozen ahead of time and still be good when you get to your picnic.
  • Takeout: For impromptu road trip picnics, consider grabbing takeout from a local restaurant. Fried chicken and prepared sandwiches are always great ideas. They eat well, hot or cold.
  • Food Trucks: if you are lucky enough to spot a food truck along your road trip, these are great places to enjoy food for a different kind of road trip picnic.
  • Sweet Rogue Trips: stop at a local bakery and pick up something for dessert for your road trip picnic.


Check out list of the perfect road trip snacks to pack. 

4. Weather Considerations for your Road Trip Picnic

  • Check the weather forecast: Avoid rainy or sweltering days.
  • Sun Protection: Hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses are essential.
  • Covered Spaces: Many parks have covered Gazebos and picnic areas, which offer protection from rain or sun. Take advantage of these spaces for your next break.


5. Entertainment and Activities:

  • Games: Bring a frisbee, cards, or a travel-sized board game.
  • Music: Portable speakers with Bluetooth that connect to your phone or device.
  • Reading Material: A book or e-reader if you enjoy reading outdoors and plan on being at your picnic destination for a long time.
  • If you are road tripping with your dog, make sure they have fun activities & toys to play with to help stave off boredom.


Travel Tip: Planning a Road Trip Picnic is a great way to save money on your next vacation



6. Timing of your Road Trip Picnic:

Planning the timing of your road trip picnic is up to you & your travel companions, and when is appropriate for your needs. We often choose lunch -as it is the perfect break in the day to get off the highway and relax. and refuel.

  • Golden Hours: For a truly wonderful experience, consider planning your road trip picnic during sunrise or sunset for magical views.
  •  Avoid Crowds: Midweek or early mornings are quieter at many places, but you may discover some unique spots that are a bit more secluded.


“Paws and Picnics: Unleashing Joy on the Open Road”

If you embark on a road trip with your dog (s), there can be an adventure with every potty break. Experiencing a road trip with your furry copilot can be the perfect reason for planning a road trip picnic. Your dog will want to get out and exercise after many hours in a car. Why not plan your route to include beautiful parks that will be as enjoyable for you to look at as it is for your dog to run and play?

We have taken many road trips with our canine companions, and one of their favourite parts of the adventure has been the picnic stops. They love running in a field, playing in a park, swimming in a lake, and going for little hikes. All of this can be part of your road trip picnic stops. Just be sure to follow off-leash/on-leash dog rules and guidelines.


To ensure your dog has everything it needs, check out our list of  What To Pack for a road trip with your dog.


Planning a road trip picnic is a fun way to spend time with your travel companions and recharge from the exhaustion of driving. In addition to saving some money on your road trip, a picnic also allows you to eat healthier food, enjoy the great outdoors, and see some amazing spots you might not have experienced before.

Remember, picnics are about more than just food. Picnics are a chance to relax, connect, and enjoy the outdoors! So, pack up the car, roll down the highway, one picnic at a time, and have fun.

Adventurer, gastro-tourist, avid road tripper, and butter tart aficionado. Exploring the road less travelled and the adventures that exist for all to see if you open yourself up to new possibilities. Greg and his husband Nick are residents of Guelph, and their greatest joys in life are exploring the world around them. Road trips with no real destination are a favourite past time. Get off the beaten path and discover somewhere they have never been before. Sometimes the best vacations are the ones you don't really plan. Life is about the journey together and not the destination.

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