Simple travelling

14 March 2012
A pillow from home made an excellent table for me as we travelled along. I had the GPS, the itinerary and the map as well as my knitting. Hanno did most of the driving.

If you're a regular reader here you'll know Hanno and I were off travelling around the countryside to promote the book recently. Penguin paid for my expenses but we were still quite frugal ... because we are. : - ) I was born in Sydney and left there in my late 20s, so I am not city savvy anymore and it was a bit of an eye-opener for me to see so many people drinking from water bottles they'd bought that day and the amount of takeaway food being eaten at all times of the day, not just at mealtimes. But I am only walking in my own shoes, I make no judgements here, I was just surprised by it.

A lunch stop - checking emails and the weather map on the side of the road.
As usual, Hanno and I did our own thing. I had packed a small plastic box full of coffee mugs, a sharp knife, butter knives, forks, spoons, salt and pepper, tea, plates and bowls to take with us. We generally had the breakfast offer in the hotel or motel, but we also took a small package of Weetbix with us, and some milk, in case the breakfast didn't suit us or we had to leave early. Most nights we went to the local Woolworths, bought half a roast chicken and some salads and that was our dinner. It was much easier than finding a restaurant that served reasonably priced good food and we both enjoyed our little chicken picnics.

We also bought sliced wholewheat bread and I usually made sandwiches for our lunch the next day. Every morning we filled our water bottles from the tap before we left and if we were moving from one town to the next, we filled the Thermos flask with boiling water as well.  At one point we hit a town in the early evening and decided to have Red Rooster for dinner. I'd never had it before and Hanno said it was okay. It was not. It was very salty and almost cold. That Red Rooster was a first and last for me. And I guess that's the point of all this. We tried to eat simple food in or from places we trusted, and we wanted it to be portable and fast. The Woolies option worked for us - chicken or ham and salad, eaten for dinner, then using the leftovers for lunch the next day. Two birds, one stone.

While we were away, we also thought about recycling. On several of our breakfast trays we had jams packaged in small glass jars that had pop-top metal lids. Those same lids were on small glass bottles of fruit juice, also on the breakfast trays. We washed the jars and bottles and brought them all home to be used for small storage jars or for little bottles of sauce that I'll probably make up sometime during the year. They were irresistible to me - glass, small and capable of being sterilised in a water bath and sealed for storage in a cupboard. Gold!

One of the country roads near Dorrigo NSW, along this road we found a farmer selling organic potatoes - Dutch creams and Kipflers. We bought a bag for eating and a bag for planting.

I drove a fair distance on the way down because Hanno had a sore knee. When his knee was better, he took over the driving and I was well content because I'd brought along my knitting and something to read. That is always a smart move - take some form of entertainment or craft with you so on those long drives and during the evenings in the hotel, you'll have something to do.

The wonderful old town of Millthorpe above and the beach at Byron Bay below.

We also took lots of photos along the way to help us remember the people we met and places we visited.  Most of all though, we talked. A driving holiday is a great way to slow down and reconnect. Of course we argued too. Hanno's driving didn't come up to my standard and my driving didn't come up to his ; - ) but most of the time, as we wove our way through the countryside, often along back highways and country roads, we got to see the real Australia and each other. It was a lovely way to spend a couple of weeks.


  1. Your post makes me want to go away. It looks like you had a lovely time and saw some beautiful places. It also reminded me of our trips! Always some crockery and cutlery and a thermos! We even take a grater and make the kids carrot and cheese wraps in flat bread. Quick, easy, healthy, cheap! And I ALWAYS let hubby drive (It's my time out and I love it!). Being in the car is the closest I get to having a day off.

  2. Looks like you had a great time on your travels.
    Rhonda, please don`t worry about signed copies of your book for me now. My partner has already ordered a book for me from an Australian book shop. They are happy to send it to the UK. I shall still be able to enjoy your book even without your signiture.
    Al the Best to you and Hanno.
    Much love,

  3. Rhonda I did enjoy your post this morning. Especially your comments on how you dealt with mealtimes on the road. I'll learn from that. I went away for a few days recently and it was hard to find fresh food that I could enjoy from outlets available as we travelled. At home I make all my food 'from scratch' which spoils me really. I should have packed my picnic! I'll know better next time.

  4. Whoever is driving just never comes up to the standard of those who are not :)
    We do much the same when travelling locally. We do experiment a bit with 'foreign' food if we are further away than usual but I don't think I have ever had a cup of tea from a restaurant that I would consider palatable so we have a thermos and a thermette too (runs on any small twigs and is very fast to heat - my grandfather made it for the family about half a century back).

    viv in nz

  5. Can you read in a moving car? Lucky you Rhonda.

    You managed your food pretty well on the road but do build yourselves up before winter, you certainly wouldn't have had the nutrition you usually do.

    Gorgeous photo near Dorrigo.

  6. Lovely post Rhonda.
    thanks for the camera info yesterday.
    We took a family holiday almost 2 years ago and I found the meals the hardest thing. We too ate lots of salads and cold cuts from the supermarket. Having 4 kids makes eating out too unaffordable and we are too spoilt with home cooking now so we don't enjoy it anyway.

    cheers Kate

  7. I love a road trip as it brings out the idea of an adventure but am with you guys about the driving issues.

    We usually go to little local take-aways to keep the money in the town.
    I have boycotted Woolworths and Coles because of the way they grind the farmers and other suppliers into the ground. Plus their destroying of a Platypus habitat in Maleny. Also, don't buy chicken because of the agony of their lives and the additives to their food. A baguette, cheese, lettuce and thinly sliced onion is yummy.
    We're planning a long trip this cooler weather.

  8. I love the little jam jars...and speaking of saving from trips I saved the pit from the cherry on top of a my fancy cafe cupcake. To plant at home. Is that a touch obsessive...?

  9. Mr A and I take a road trip between postings every two years. You are right, it is a great way to reconnect! But we found we had to buy a GPS, so that we had 'someone' else to blame when we inevitably got lost!

    When I moved out of home my mum made me up a picnic set as a gift - a couple of plates, bowls, and cups, cutlery, a sharp sheathed knife and a tiny chopping board. She stored it all in a big plastic box and threw in a washing up cloth and a tiny bottle of washing up liquid. I just wash up right in the box. I have used it SO many times since, it is great for traveling!

    I find red rooster horrible too, I am spoilt by my own cooking ;)

  10. Mrs A, we use the GPS for the same thing. We even got lost driving away after seeing you in Canberra. LOL

  11. Hi Rhonda,

    I loved today's post and enjoyed riding along with you and Hanno. My husband and I are often teased (good-natured)by our friends who think it's odd that we carry a basket on every overnight trip. It's usually full of fruit, crackers and homemade snacks. The cooler has drinks, water and cheese. We look forward to eating from it and it saves a ton of money. We also plan Sunday picnics using up leftovers and having fun using special plates, homemade napkins and fancy cutlery. I can truly say that carrying along our own food is one of the highlights of our trips. I just automatically knew that you and Hanno would be doing the same kind of things.

    Diane in North Carolina

  12. Hello Rhonda

    Love the way you travel. Like we do.
    Also collecting the little glass jars and other "goodies" along the way. Gold indeed.
    Did you also come home with little soaps and hair conditioner?
    Perhaps some bikkies in their little cellophane packets?
    Going away is good because it always makes you appreciate home!!!

  13. we usually travel the same way, pack a picnic or buy a few things from the supermarket, eating simply.
    I so glad you said that about 'Red Roost", I didn't like the portion I was bought but thought I was just being fussy.

  14. Love your post today,i used to do the same thing as you did,alway's have some dry biccies and vegemite,wheatix,and a thermos packed,so i alway's had something to nibble,without having to spend at shop's,and i still pack my Thermos and some nibbles when i go out for the day!i have never been to Red Rooster,and i never will!you mentioned people eating take-away at all odd hour's,i was with my Daughter last week,and she went and ordered a Pizza,i was shocked to see so many people lined up and waiting for Pizza,i have never done this,so it was a real eye opener!and so expensive!my Daughter spent $19.00 on her Pizza,i told her to make her own!un-believable!i loved your photo's,thank you for sharing,xx Carol

  15. Ha Ha! So glad you guys are normal....we always fight driving through the city...I always say that we could never live together in the city..we would be divorced very quickly..can't stand city traffic and those huge trucks!!!Great idea about the chicken dinners. We always seem to pack breakfast but buy dinner. I like the idea of a kit to keep in the car of cuppas, picnics and road trips etc. Currently I have a travel basket in the boot with an ice cream container and lid in case kids get sick, small hand towel, wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, sunscreen, panadol, bandaids and a plastic bag. Also a small blanket, bottled water and umbrella. Would love some tips on an eating travel kit that could stay in the car as long as it could be condensed down to a minimum and then just add the thermos and cooler bag. Have often thought that I should keep a spare empty thermos in the car for just in case....lots of times I wished that I had of packed it especially day outings with the kids when you don't want to stand in line and buy a coffee but would love a cup of tea back at the car before the trip onto home.

  16. Oh what a lovely road trip you must have had. I can't read in a car, but prefer to watch the countryside roll by. Those little jars look great - I once tried to use baby food bottles, but they kept popping off, these look as though they might have a better "catch".

  17. Your trip sounds lovely. I do hope your book sells well, it looks like a great one. :)

  18. How fun. Your trip sounds wonderful and the food sounds like something we would do. (We did in Holland in 1998, roast chicken, cheese, and bread - perfect meal.) Also thanks for the bread machine post. I like to use mine, it frees up time for other things - it's just for some reason I was feeling like I 'really' wasn't making bread. I see that was a bit silly, like saying I'm not really traveling if I take the car instead of walking...

  19. The hardest thing we came up against on our 6 month caravan trip last year was road trip food. We found it so difficult to find good quality, homegrown, simple, organic food. And the fact that no caravan parks we stayed in composted and only a few recycled meant we created far too much waste. We struggled with these issues constantly. But we also loved the slowness of life on the road and the contant picnicing. It is such a great way to see Australia.

  20. I've been following your blog and using the "You might also like..." links for quite some time and LOVE the variety of topics you manage to cover. Unfortunately (just today, and half way through a browsing session) I'm now getting Internet Explorer blocking access through your links because it has detected cross site scripting (security issue). Is anyone else having this trouble

  21. I enjoyed reading about your trip, sounds lovely and simple. But I do have a question about the jam jars. Will those pop-up type lids re-seal? Or do you use another lid? I am curious because I had not thought about reusing that type of lid but it would make more glass containers reusable if that's possible (the ones with odd-size tops that regular lids would not work for).

  22. Thank you for reminding us that road trips don't have to mean junk food or mediochre cafe food.
    We also eat from the local supermarket or deli when we travel. I use it as an excuse to try different types of cheese or antipasta - food means fun and is such an important part of travel for me, even if it's just a roadtrip interstate!

  23. Cat, these types of lids usually seal well when water bathed.

    Cassie, thank you. I haven't had this type of comment before and have to admit I don't know what it means. Maybe someone else will offer some insight.

  24. I always take a picnic lunch and thermos with me - even for just a day trip. I have begun to take my thermos full of hot water on a shopping trip now because I drink black tea and I get very cross with being charged full price for a cup of black tea that they do not even have the decency to put the teabag in. I also just enjoy the food Iprepare far more than being disappointed when ordering and paying for food when out. Cheers, Wendy

  25. I recently flew from my state of New Hampshire, to the south for a visit with family in NC. I went for a week, and took exactly 2 small bags. One was a messenger bag that I kept with me (it held my book to read and some other miscellaneous stuff), and my suitcase that held a weeks worth of clothes. I had never flown before, and was baffled by people who insisted on carrying everything they owned on the plane. Simple traveling is the only way to go.

  26. Used to travel to conventions and would pack my small crockpot and 1-2 easy meals in my suitcase like tuna and rice OR pea soup. Always double bagged, ask me how I learned that. Hubby thought it was 'too' much the first time I did it until that first night when we walked into our hotel room and dinner was made. He was a convert after that. SJ in BC Canada

  27. This sounds quite similar to our trip. One night we bought Woolies salads and cold ham for dinner as it was raining and too late to cook. It also served as lunch the next day. We tried to pack sandwiches for lunch everday too. I know exactly what you mean about the chicken experience, as it happened with us with the other big chicken chain. Looks like you saw many pretty places.

  28. Im with Cat curious about the reuse of the odd jelly jars and such. They can be reused in a simple water bath?? using the same lids that came with the purchased jelly?? How many times can you reuse the same lids? I like to reuse and I do a lot of canning and jars and lids are expensive. I have just recently came across your blog and have enjoyed reading some of your entries. Thank you



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