Our Traveling Kitchen.

By Posted in - Featured Post & Food & Recipes & Travel Bites & Travel Gear & Travel Resources on October 29th, 2012

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I woke up with a sore throat and a sore body this morning it was clear that life on the road was taking it’s toll on me. I’m sick and in need of warm, spicy food. I need soup.

I went into the kitchen it dawned on me that I have a traveling kitchen.

No, it doesn’t have a sink or a fridge but there are certain things that I always bring with me or buy the first week I arrive on foreign soil. These items will help you save money, create great dishes and keep you healthy.

These are our traveling kitchen staples and right now I’m really glad that I have them because I’m going to make a really spicy soup to clear up my head and I don’t need to run to the store first. It’s raining out, our apartment is 71 stairs up (I counted) and a 10 minute walk from the local Conad grocery store so knowing I have everything I need makes me one happy camper right now.



Collapsible X-Bowls – We grew to love these folding bowls from Sea to Summit during our camping days and they’ve become a staple in our luggage. Did I mention you can also use them as a small cutting board and they have measurements listed inside?

Collapsible Cups – Perfect for a picnic with wine or on a train.

Fork/Knife/Spoon Set – These were another part of our camping supplies that have found their way around the world with us. These are really great and the knife works very well and doubles as a small spatula! We picked them up at REI (Utensils by Guyot Designs) where you can get the set for only $6.95 .

Tom Bihn Packing Cube Backpack – I realize this doesn’t seem like a foodie item but the reason I put it in the list is because not only is it one of our luggage staples (yes, it’s a packing cube that also happens to be a really lightweight backpack so we use it all the time) but because we use it every time we hit up a market in a new city. It carries an unbelievable amount of food so it makes carrying our local goodies a snap. Available at Tom Bihn for only $40 it’s a steal. Once you travel with it, you will never leave home without it. It has so many uses.

Corkscrew – You can open a beer with a spatula or a counter top but don’t forget a small corkscrew if you want to drink wine!


Usually I will wait until I arrive to buy these items because they are readily available and usually a lot cheaper and of better quality in most other parts of the world than you will find in the US. Even Europe is a fraction of the cost when it comes to spices.

Salt & Pepper

Oregeno and/or Basil (Dried)

Garlic – Dried or fresh garlic makes everything taste better.

Hot Pepper – Good for flavor and for adding to soup to clear up stuffy heads.

Olive Oil – Perfect for cooking veggies, starting soups, as a salad dressing or just dipping bread into.

Soup Bouillon – Another great base to travel with, add them to pasta, veggies or just to make soup.


Starbucks Via Instant-1

Photo by Zach_Beauvais via Flickr.

Via by Starbucks – A few packs of Vivi Starbucks to go coffee is a no brainer. It’s small to pack and tastes great. We always travel with it because it’s good for early mornings, late nights or when the local coffee either sucks or is extremely expensive. Also, I just saw that Starbucks now has several flavors available including their special Pumpkin Latte! In addition to this we usually bring a few tea bags.

Oatmeal – Just a few packs of your favorite flavor makes for instant comfort food, cheap, filling and easy to pack too.

Raw Almonds – I bring a large resealable bag and then refill as we travel with local nuts or snacks. Why the resealable bag? Most countries don’t sell these items in resealable bags and it makes it a lot easier for transporting and snacking on travel days.

Power Bars – We bring just a couple of these for emergencies i.e. running late for a long train ride with no food or arriving on a Sunday, in certain locations, when everything is closed.

Peanut Butter – We do not bring this all the time because jars are bulky and heavy. We only bring it depending on the destination. For instance, if I’m going somewhere cold, expensive or known for their lack of vegetarian dishes then I will definitely bring a jar. When we camped in Iceland we brought a jar of Peanut Butter with us and it was great to have – we added it to oatmeal & made sandwiches with it. It is a perfect food – filling, versatile and budget friendly. It’s also very hard to find Peanut Butter around the world – yes, it’s the sad truth that most countries despise peanut butter. Actually it’s so hard to find that when we WWOOFed in Italy there were a handful of Americans in the group and we all had a hankering for one thing – peanut butter. We made our own out of the local peanuts & honey and it was amazing. Our homemade PB was so good we actually converted an Israeli, German & an Italian and they couldn’t get enough!

Local Staples

There are a handful of things that we usually buy on the first day we arrive as long as we are in an apartment, hostel or hotel with a mini fridge. We always prefer to stay in an apartment or a hostel because we will have access to a kitchen which really helps us save money.

Bread, Cheese, Wine & Desert in a Paris Park. You can see our spork in the carrots!

Bread & Cheese – This is a staple for us, at least in Europe, and is usually the very first thing we buy. It changes depending where we travel, in Central America it would be tortillas and beans, you get the drift.

Yogurt – Local yogurt is usually very cheap, tasty and more importantly will protect your stomach from travel bugs. Always eat the local yogurt to help your stomach adjust to a new location. Travel Tip: Turkey has hands down the best yogurt I have ever tasted. Eaten plain with honey on top it is to die for. The yogurt there is so good they actually sell it by the gallon!

Hummus – I can’t find this everywhere but when I can find it I love it. It’s a complete protein, easy to eat & cheap. As a vegetarian I am always looking for hummus when I travel. Traveling tip – Iceland has the best hummus ever.

Fresh Veggies – As long as I’m in an area where I can eat fresh veggies I will always go for the basics to make my go-to around the world travel salad – tomatoes, avocados, pepper & onion.

Fresh Fruit – In certain areas of the world you have to be extremely cautious when it comes to fresh fruit and uncooked veggies. As a general rule of thumb you can eat any fruit that needs to be peeled so our first choices are usually oranges & bananas.

Beans – After learning Erica’s famous Drunken Beans recipe I am now adding it to my staple list. Cheap and easy to find around the world. Add in some rice and you have a meal!

Local Beer & Wine  – We always sample the local beer and wine whenever we get the chance.

Chocolate – Somehow a chocolate item always finds it’s way into my bag because it’s important to know if you are in a good chocolate region or not…right?

So there you have it – our traveling kitchen! All the items are really portable and lightweight and our list of local staples will help you create a ton of healthy, budget friendly meals. So whether you miss a train, a plane, have no money, are homesick or just plain sick the above items will make eating on the road a lot easier!

If you need some easy recipes to make on the road (or at home) why not check out our collection of Travel Bites Recipes?

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(13) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Dariece – Goats On The Road -

    October 29, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Love the post! We have many of those items in our backpacks at all times! The spices, the ‘spork’, cups, plates and a corkscrew are a must. Oatmeal, instant coffee, tea bags and instant noodle cups are the perfect food for China – they have hot water everywhere: on trains, in guesthouses, in lobbies, at malls, seriously everywhere.

    Cheers for a great article 🙂
    Goats On The Road

  • Susan @ Travel Deals -

    October 29, 2012 at 5:35 am

    I always prefer for Maggie and sandwich.. these makes very instant and so easily. Thanks for posting such a helpful information with us.

  • Vera Marie Badertscher -

    October 29, 2012 at 8:43 am

    A note on peanut butter–you can get individual squeeze packets of peanut butter and other spreads at the grocery store in the U.S. Yes, it is more expensive than in a jar. But WAY more packable. In our local natural food store, you can get natural peanut butter, almond butter and even chocolate peanut butter.
    We can’t live without our favorite green or white tea, so always take some along in a small ziplock bag.
    And speaking of ziplocks, we always take extras for saving leftover food, storing stuff we buy on the road, etc.

  • Stephanie – The Travel Chica -

    October 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    When I first started my travels in Latin America, I had nothing related ot food. When I left Buenos Aires for the road again, I packed a corkscrew, a pepper mill, and a jar of peanut butter. There are some great idea here, and I’m sure the next time I do long-term travel, I will be adding more to my own kitchen kit.

  • Kieu -

    October 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    LOVE this post! After our short stint in South America, I’ve gotten accustom to packing our own traveling kitchen, especially collecting the spices. You’d be surprise some hostels don’t have salt and pepper. Looking to invest in the collapsible bowl and will definitely check out your recipe section.

  • Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey -

    October 30, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Those staples have all been with on the road for the past 5 and a half years and have saved our health and our wallets more than once. Our favorite almonds are Trader Joe’s dry roasted unsalted–we’ve been known to beg friends/family coming south to meet us to load up their suitcases with them! We also carry an immersible coil and a large tin cup so we can boil water whenever we need to.

  • Thomas -

    November 8, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I completely enjoyed reading this post. My all time favorite snacks are Peanut butter with Bread and Maggie noodles as it can be cooked instantly without trouble. When you move often, you really need a good sense of traveling kitchen to keep you lively & hale and hearty. Thanks for sharing this amazing post.

  • 30Traveler -

    November 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I travel with Arizona diet peach iced tea mix so I can get my caffeine fix at the beach when I can’t buy my usual diet coke or it’s expensive. I don’t drink tea or coffee so this is a good option for me. I also travel with a small plastic bowl , cutlery, and a few sugar sachets.

  • OCDemon -

    April 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I always imagine myself at least attempting something like this, then fail miserably due to logistical concerns and end up eating cooked food anyway. It’s particularly difficult when $2 amazing street food beckons so seductively…but perhaps I’ll make yet another attempt someday!

  • Canyoning Wales -

    April 25, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Wow, home-made peanut butter sounds so good. And who these days with all the advancements in technology can do without a spork? You can’t really go wrong with one. ITS A SPOON AND A FORK 🙂 The Starbucks small coffee satchels are a great idea too, I didn’t think of that.

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  • Lisa -

    December 22, 2013 at 7:16 am

    I also find sachets always come in handy. e.g.., peanut butter, pepper (for hummus on bagel), sugar, coffee, etc.

    I always keep a spare plastic knife and fork in my purse too (the kind that’s wrapped in plastic from a flight).

  • Jeremy -

    October 20, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I love it when a hostel comes with a kitchen (they often don’t in Asia, but they do in Central America, which makes me happy) … you save money and can eat well at the same time … love it!