Food Safety for the Savvy Traveler

Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RDN
kids on road trip

Noel Hendrickson/DigitalVision/Thinkstock

Summer Travel Trends

  • Six out of 10 Americans plan to take one to two trips this spring and summer, and three out of 10 plan to take three to four
  • Thirty-two percent of travelers are more likely to pack food or snacks from home for their trips than a year ago
  • When traveling with children, 65 percent say they are more likely to bring food or snacks from home
  • And, nearly all (97 percent) of those driving to their vacation destinations will pack a meal for the road

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Nine out of 10 Americans will travel by car this spring and summer and more than half will travel by plane. No matter the mode of transportation, packing for a trip also means packing food from home for many travelers this season:

  • By plane: 37 percent will bring food
  • By train: 19 percent will bring food
  • By bus: 22 percent will bring food
  • If an airline does not offer food en route, 61 percent say they?ll carry it on themselves; and 20 percent will be bringing their in-flight meal from home

Backpack and Backseat Treats

When packing their on-the-road picnic, travelers report most often including:

  • Sandwiches (67 percent)
  • Chips and dips (66 percent)
  • Fresh fruit or vegetables (65 percent)
  • Pre-packaged lunch with meat and cheese (28 percent)

Food Safety on the Road

  • Remember to wash hands with soap and water during food preparation, especially between tasks
  • If you can't get to a restroom to wash your hands with soap and water, pack moist towelettes or a hand sanitizer to clean up before digging in
  • Don't let food sit out unrefrigerated for more than two hours; in hot weather (above 90°F), the time is reduced to one hour
  • In hot weather, transport food in a cooler (packed with ice or ice packs) in the back seat of an air-conditioned car instead of the trunk
  • If you don't have access to a cooler, try packing frozen juice boxes or bottles of water for a hydrating refresher that will also help keep other foods around them cool
  • If you plan to cook family favorites like hamburgers, hotdogs or chicken breasts at home to take with on your trip, remember to cook to proper temperatures: hamburgers (at least 160°F), hot dogs (reheated to 160°F), and chicken (165°F)
  • Consider packing easy-to-transport, shelf-stable foods: single-serve boxes of cereal, trail mix, popcorn, single-serve applesauce, cans of tuna peanut butter sandwiches, fresh fruit, carrots or celery
  • Don't forget that carry-out and fast-food are also susceptible to food poisoning

*Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Survey by Impulse Research, April 2003

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