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How to Keep Your Food Cold While Traveling

As fun as traveling is, it can also be challenging if you’re traveling long distances and want to keep your food cold.

What are your options?

You can keep food cold while traveling by using a thermos, an insulated thermal foil bag, or freezing the food ahead of your trip. Packing food tightly in a cooler or using dry ice can also help.

Traveling with food doesn’t have to be super complicated. In this article, I will show you how to keep your food cold while on the move.

Let’s get started!

8 Easy Ways To Keep Food Cold While Traveling

Freeze Your Food First

Pre-freezing your food before starting your journey is one of the easiest ways to keep it cold while traveling, no matter the distance.

A deep freezer would be the best to use in this case, especially for items like sports drinks, vegetables, raw meat, and some types of fruits. Freeze your food at least 24 hours before you embark for the best results.

You will also need a quality portable cooler after freezing your food, so that it stays cool when it thaws. Choose a cooler based on the amount of food you are taking and the days you will be away.

Pack The Cooler Tightly

Your food can stay colder longer if you pack it in a tight cooler packed with other frozen items.

Put some ice at the bottom, center, and on top of the cooler. This creates a frozen barrier that will take longer to melt.

If you carry raw meat, keep it at the bottom of the cooler because it may leak, thus contaminating other food.

Also, pack the things you will need to access quickly on top of the cooler, especially snacks and drinks. You don’t want to dig into the cooler, warm it quickly, and cause the ice to melt.

Pack The Food In An Insulated Thermal Foil Bag

Using an insulated foil bag is one of the most affordable methods at your disposal if you want to keep your food cold until you arrive at your destination.

Do be careful with insulated bags, because if the bag leaks, the food will spoil, thus wrecking your camping trip.

Further, once you pack your food in the insulated bag, securely shut off the bag’s mouth and then flatten the bag to keep its contents fresh.

Don’t Use Ice Cubes For The Cooler

While stopping at the local store to buy some ice cube bags would be better than having none, there is a better way of keeping your food cold for longer. You just need bigger ice blocks.

All you have to do is put some ice cubes into a resealable bag, maybe a ¾ of the way full, and then fill the rest of the space with water and keep it in your freezer.

You will have a big block of ice once the water turns into ice.

Alternatively, you can fill your bag with water only and freeze it. It’s not a must for you to use ice cubes, after all.

Keep in mind that this second method may take a long time, so you should do it some days before you’ll travel.

Don’t Put The Cooler In The Car Trunk

Car trunks usually have a warm ambient temperature, which might heat up your items in the cooler faster.

So, where in your car is safe for the cooler to go? In the passenger compartment, of course.

You may be wondering whether coolers are resistant to external temperatures. Some are, but since this isn’t a feature in all coolers, you should keep the cooler inside the passenger compartment to be safe.

Turn the air conditioning on in the car and aim the vents at the cooler. This can only help!

Use a Thermos Container

Most people think thermos containers are only used for keeping food hot, but nope! It works for cold food as well.

Admittedly, thermos containers are costly, so you should be ready to spend some cash if you’re interested in this method.

Avoid Draining Any Melted Water

Do not drain any melted ice if you carry your food in a container or cooler, as tempting as it may be.

Draining the water disrupts the balance within the container or cooler, and within no time, everything inside becomes hotter.

To prevent the ice from prematurely melting, avoid opening the cooler frequently and do so fast if you have to open it. Close the cooler lid securely and tightly once you’re done rummaging around.

Use Dry Ice

If you want your food to stay cold, dry ice will be your best friend.

It doesn’t melt like regular ice, hence the assurance of cold food throughout your journey. However, you have to keep your car windows open because this ice turns into gas once it heats up. That’s the only real downside of dry ice.

If you keep the windows closed, the dry ice will displace the oxygen in your car, which would make it difficult to breathe. You might even pass out, so please, keep the windows open.

How Long Can You Transport Frozen Food?

The time your frozen food will remain frozen when traveling by car depends on the type and the amount of food you carry. The type of cooler you use also matters.

That said, you should get at least two hours of frozen goodness if the cooler isn’t exposed to too much sun.

Packing your food with dry ice can keep it frozen for at least three days!


There you have it, the 8 best and easiest ways to keep your food cold while traveling.

Pre-freeze food first, ensure your cooler is tightly closed, and make large ice blocks. You can also use an insulated thermal foil bag or a thermal container.

Additionally, avoid keeping the food in the car trunk and you will have it as cold as you want it to be at your destination. I hope these tips will help you make the most of your trip!