What goes in a foodie’s vacation suitcase?

We are going on a long anticipated vacation in a couple days.  The place we’re staying has a semi-equipped kitchen; dishes, flatware, assorted pans, working stove and fridge, etc…  When I say the kitchen is semi-equipped I mean it is not constantly inhabited by an obsessive-compulsive, gadget-loving foodie like myself.  I have found myself wondering how little clothing I can possibly pack for a family of seven in order to preserve room in the van for my knives, mandoline, whisk, large cutting board, dough bucket, organic ketchup, natural peanut butter, homemade pickles, homemade jam, spices, huge cooler filled with pantry staples such as pesto marinated bocconcini and fresh herbs, tomatoes and zucchini from our garden, etc…   Is there any possible way I can pack my stand mixer?  It is like another child to me.  One which I am very glad not to have birthed.   I am contemplating whether to pack butter in the cooler.  I mean really, what if butter’s price is astronomic there?  How would I make cinnamon rolls?  Or toast? 


**At this point I would very much like to be able to say ‘just kidding!’ except that would be lying and I’ve repeatedly mentioned that my moral compass is set to ‘honest’. 


I’ve settled on taking my knives and steel  *There is, in a kitchen, nothing worse than someone else’s dull ginsu, the large cooler and whatever will fit in it  *I refuse to leave behind that fresh jar of lovely basil/garlicky  fresh goat milk mozzarella, a whisk  *You just try making pasta á là carbonara with some poor trodden upon fork, small amounts of some spices  *No way am I paying $8.00 for half an ounce of cumin at some tourist trap grocery store, and the dough bucket *No excuse here.  I just want it with me.



“Why not just eat out?”  I know there is someone out there who is thinking or muttering just that.  It is because we are a family of 7.  Vacation with 5 kids under the age of 10 is merely chaos relocated.  Leaving aside the cost entirely, eating out is double chaos relocated.  We’ll probably have at least 1 meal in a restaurant, but the majority of our food will be eaten in situ. 



This brings me to a couple questions I have for you all. 


  1. When you go on vacation do you pack food related tools or food?  If so, what do you take with you?  What can’t you live without even when you’re ‘getting away from it all’?
  2. Do you think, as does my husband, that I should ‘relax’ and just eat boxed macaroni and cheese for a week *shudder* **Does this place even have a colander?  Oooh, maybe I should take one of those…
  3. Do you have any favorite ‘vacation meals’ that remind you of places or rely on the local foods from your getaways?   And lastly…
  4. Did I forget anything important?


  1. says

    Flying, I have to hit the grocery store first thing. But I totally agree with everything if its a driving vacation. I plan out all of our meals and bring along the food I already have from home. I bring some essential tools like the basket that you put the baby stuff in for the dishwasher, sippy cups, etc… Mostly though I kind of like “making do” with what they have. It’s kind of like camping in my warped mind. I feel victorious for figuring out how to make dinner without all of my usual gadgets and gizmos. Have fun!

  2. Valerie says

    I HAVE to respond to this one, having just returned from a few days of camping with my husband. Since it is just the two of us, it’s a bit easier than travelling with the horde, and over the years I’ve simplified quite a bit, but there are a few items that are musts. A small set of yard-sale-purchased heavy aluminum sauce pans, 1, 2 and 3-quarts, 3 small cutting boards, my good knives and a wisk. (The pans serve as mixing bowls when needed.) A no-name non-stick skillet that I picked up someplace in which I can make a mean camp-style frittata, and my newest addition–my 10 inch Calphalon non-stick omelet pan. I know, rather upscale for camping out, but that pan heats so evenly, it’s perfect for making pancakes for the two of us (cornmeal pancakes with freshly picked wild blueberries were the high point of this past weekend!).

  3. Brierley says

    Mostly for my vacations I bring a cast iron skillet (but I camp a lot). I live in small apartments so I have colanders and measuring cups that fold flat. I often bring them when traveling since I have gone to a lot of places with out them and I am not a good enough off the cuff cook to feel comfortable without measuring tools.

  4. says

    depends on what i’m doing… camping… i’m bringing the bare basics and probably not my good stuff. i’ve never stayed at a cabin or anywhere else other tha a hotel so i’m not sure.

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