I'm heading on a 6-week roadtrip around the country (starting in NC and traveling all along the west coast and back.) I've never done a trip this long before. I have a standard, kind of dinky, cooler that i can refill with ice every day... but sometimes i forget and the milk goes sour. I've seen some coolers that can plug in to the car or any outlet but they cost upwards of 50 bucks.
Is there a food strategy/cooler strategy that would be most cost efficient and fun efficient for my trip?
I have no experience with the electric variety, but if they keep things cold enough and operate efficiently, with no ill-effects on the vehicle's electrical system, I think the initial cost might be worth it for a six-week trip. I typically add 1 or 2 bags of ice to my ice chest every 1 to 2 days, depending on outside temps -- at $1 to $2 a bag that adds up even on shorter trips.
I have one of the smaller electric coolers. it's convienient, but not perfect. On trips i keep it between the front seats for soda and other things you access alot while driving. i keep stuff like milk and sandwich meat in an ice cooler in the back. when you turn off an electric cooler it gets warm FAST. this is because they have a cold heatsink on the inside mounted to the Peltier device which is mounted to the hot heatsink on the outside. as soon as you turn it off, the heat from the outer heatisink transfers to the cold one. in an hour the temp will rise to over 60 degrees. also, if you leave it on while the car is off, it can drain the battery.
Thanks for the Intel!
Great information -- Thanks for the posting!
What I do
I have a small electric cooler. However, I use mine a bit differently than Craig. I tend to eat out of my car but I don't like to haul a lot of food nor do I like to deal with the ice issue. So, in my electric cooler, I put the sandwich meats and any other items that must stay cold. I also take a few small freezer-style ziploc bags and fill them with ice from the pop dispensers when I gas up.
I can then turn off the electric cooler when I stop my car without worrying about it draining the battery. (Yeah, you do have to be careful about it as it draws a lot of amps compared to most things you plug into your car like cell phones, etc.)
Anyway, I will have handy a 6-pack of pop and just put 1 or 2 in the cooler to cool before I drink them. My electric cooler also has a regular plug-in so that I can take it into the hotel and plug it in at night (or, if staying in a campground with hook-ups, I can do the same thing).
If I'm going to be where there are no hook-ups, we just eat what's in the cooler for dinner/evening snacks and stop at a grocery store and replenish our stuff. Unless the weather is cool at night, then the ice in the ziplock bags usually keeps things cool enough.
I really like not having to deal with hauling the cooler out of the car, pouring out the melted ice water, etc.
My cooler is small...just fits about 9 pop cans. This works well for us as it is usually just me and my husband. For a whole family, it probably would be best to go the two ice-chest route like Craig suggested.
Hope this helps and have a great trip!!
the electric coolers are nice to have but they will kill the car battery over night if left plugged in, or everything spoils if unplugged. I learned this the hard way. I would recommend the ice chest just buy a bag of ice occasionaly when you buy gas. have a safe trip
Where can I buy a car cooler? I have looked at Wal-Mart but no luck.
Igloo is one of the suppliers. Information is available at http://www.igloocoolers.com/
use dry ice
> Great information -- Thanks for the <BR>
> posting! <BR>
use dry ice
research using dry ice in a seperate cooler for long trips
it's what we do for our annual ten day campout in the