Road Trip

Chow down on these easy-to-eat road trip-friendly foods

Fast food and fast casual restaurants offer many options for road trip diners, who could also opt to BYO food from home.

Photo by Getty Images

Summer has come to a close, but road trip season is still in full swing as people journey to see their football teams take on rivals in towns near and far before then setting off to visit relatives for the holidays. Where to eat while you're on the road? AutomotiveMap has you covered.

Whataburger

Whataburger's honey butter chicken biscuit, fondly abbreviated "HBCB", is a perennial classic in the state of Texas. The fried chicken, flaky biscuit, and honey melt in your mouth. Enjoy a side of tater tots and wash it all down with coffee or orange juice.

For a car full of passengers, a tray of cinnamon rolls can make for an easy breakfast option. Heck, make it a tradition!

Note that the breakfast is only available from 11:00 pm-11:00 am though many Whataburgers are open 24/7.

If you're at Whataburger during non-breakfast hours we recommend the #14 combo – fried chicken, Texas toast, fries, and a drink.

Whataburger is currently only in southern states, but BDT Capital Partners (based in Chicago), recently bought a majority stake in the company. Might this mean expansion north? We can hope.

Houston hero J.J. Watt has another idea: "I say we all chip in and buy Whataburger back. Make honey butter chicken biscuits available all day, add kolaches to the menu and change nothing else. Especially not the ketchup."

Sonic

Located across the United States, Sonic offers a wide variety of menu items with a free side of nostalgic appeal. We recommend popcorn chicken, tater tots, and a limeade or strawberry slush. With its roller skating waitstaff and option to drive-in (vs. just drive through), Sonic is a unique on-the-go dining choice.

Buc-ee's

Buc-ee's is a modern-day general store. You can fill your vehicle with gas, use a very clean restroom (certainly not to be taken for granted when on a road trip), buy home décor and clothing (some Bucee's-branded, some not), and choose from a plethora of food options.

Our picks? Kolaches and fudge (perhaps not together). Kolaches, a flavorful combination of meat, cheese, or other fillings wrapped in warm, puffy dough, are both delicious and a nod to Texas's past. Popularized by the Czech settlers in Texas in the 1800's, kolaches are still popular in the state today. Buc-ee's also has a wide variety of fudge flavors, ranging from classic chocolate, to peanut butter and chocolate, to nut-filled.

McDonald's

Many McDonald's restaurants (even in airports) allow you to order via their app. Get your family's order of nuggets (add dipping sauce at your own risk), milkshakes, and fries queued up so when you pull in, it's easy grab and go. Remember, kids can opt for apple slices instead of fries, but then you're trading greasy hands for sticky fingers. For a snack, grab an apple pie.

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Starbucks

Whether you opt for coffee or tea, you can enjoy a bite with your drink that will fill you up through lunch. Instead of opting for their hot sandwiches or eggs, try a piece of loaf or a small vanilla scone, both of which are easy to eat while behind the wheel. A meat and cheese tray from their prepared food section is also a good option.

In-N-Out

The glowing yellow arrow of the In-N-Out sign is iconic. Travelers often make this California-born chain their first and last stop when arriving in the state. Roadtrippers can find In-N-Outs scattered throughout California, from San Diego in the south to Redding in the north. In-N-Out continues to expand north and east with locations in Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Texas.

For drivers, we recommend a cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate shake. Passengers can order similarly but should get their fries "animal style" – smothered with a delicious secret sauce that's a little messy so make sure extra napkins are handy.

Taco Bell

There aren't many things on the Taco Bell menu that are easy to eat while behind the wheel. The quesadilla is one of them. You could choose be a hero and attempt a burrito, but you might want to spend some time constructing a napkin bid and thigh covering before you dig in.

Chick-fil-A

This bastion of fast food, which was founded in Atlanta, Georgia, has spread throughout much of the United States. Chick-fil-a is best known for its chicken sandwich, nuggets, waffles fries, and lemonade. On an especially hot day, the frosted lemonade makes for a very refreshing treat. If you prefer some spice in your life, Chick-fil-a's spicy chicken sandwich is a palate pleaser. Kid-sized cones of Ice Dream are a good choice for kids who deserve to be rewarded for their in-car behavior.

For quick service in the restaurant or when going through the drive thru, order via the company's app ahead of arriving at the restaurant.

Gluten Free Choices

Need to be gluten free? Most fast food comes fried and breaded, but consumers can make their meal mostly gluten-free with a bit of savvy ordering. At burger places, ask for your burger to be wrapped in lettuce rather than placed in a bun. At Chick-fil-A, order the grilled nuggets over the grilled chicken sandwich on a crumbly gluten free bun.

Bring Food From Home

Another option is to bring food from home. Sandwiches wrapped in foil make eating with one hand simple, especially when cut into smaller portions. Bite-size food, such as cheese, crackers, sliced meats, and chopped vegetables, work well too.

If all else fails? Stop at the nearest gas station and load up on classic road trip fare – chips, candy, and sugary drinks.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Ford Motor Company has released its 21st sustainability report.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company isn't just focused on environmental sustainability at their Dearborn headquarters. The company's broader vision, outlined in their freshly released sustainability report, includes plants and facilities worldwide. This report is similar to one put forth by FCA earlier this year.

"We can develop and make great vehicles, sustain and grow a strong business and protect our planet at the same time – in fact, those ideals complement each other," said Bob Holycross, vice president, chief sustainability, environment and safety officer. "We don't have all the answers yet but are determined to work with all of our global and local partners and stakeholders to get there."

2020 Ford Mustang McDonalds Ford partnering with McDonalds to recycle coffee beans, create car parts with them. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The company is quick to point out that they are the "only full-line U.S. automaker committed to doing its part to reduce CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and working with California for stronger vehicle greenhouse gas standards."

The report, the 21st in the company's history, puts into writing the goal that the company will become fully carbon neutral by 2050. Along the way, Ford will set interim targets and focus strategies around the challenges of customer acceptance, government regulations, economic conditions and the availability of renewable, carbon neutral electricity, and renewable fuels.

To achieve this milestone, Ford will initially focus on three areas that account for approximately 95 percent of its CO2 emissions – vehicle use, its supply base and the company's facilities.

Ford is also committing to add "environmentally friendly performance for its products and operations". The company has employed a cross-functional team made up of members from its global workforce to address the challenges.

The company previously announced its plan to use 100-percent locally sourced renewable energy for all its manufacturing plants globally by 2035. That means energy would come only from sources that naturally replenish – such as hydropower, geothermal, wind or solar.

Ford continues to be a proponent of upcycling, as shown with their collaboration with McDonalds that turns waste byproduct of the company's coffee operations into vehicle parts.

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The EarthCruiser Dual Cab FX and EXP are designed to move families.

Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser

Earthcruiser has been making land-conquering recreational vehicles for some time, but they've always been missing the capability to haul a family in the cab. No longer. The 2020 EarthCruiser Dual Cab FX and EXP give families new options for hitting the open (and not so open) roads.

"We have been looking forward to the dual cab release since the V8 platform was first conceptualized. For years, our owners have been going farther, and living lives of true adventure. The dual cab platform allows our next generation of owners to share this lifestyle with their children, their parents, and their friends. Never before has true adventure been so inclusive," said Chad Knight, EarthCruiser General Manager.

Earthcruiser Dual Cab FX &  EXP The models are equipped to handle tough terrain.Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser

The FX is a fixed-roof model. The EXP is a pop-top. Both have a dual cab that has seating for up to four passengers. At the front of the cab are two Scheelman captains chairs. The center console includes four cup holders, a map box with power ports, and a security safe.

The recreational vehicle (RV) has a wheelbase of 168.5 inches and a bumper-to-bumper length of 289 inches. That puts it about two feet longer than a Ford F-450 with a Super Cab and 8" bed. Current models use a Fuso chassis. The company will switch to a Chevrolet chassis in late 2021.

The camper box of both models features 77.25-inches of interior headroom, 87.7 square feet of space, a 166.5″ camper box.

The rig is powered by a 6.0-liter V8 engine that achieves 297 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission. It has a 60-gallon fuel tank.

Earthcruiser Dual Cab FX &  EXP Heavy-duty tires and underpinnings keep this model going in tough conditions.Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser

Each model has a two-speed transfer case, Dynatrac Pro Series 80 axles, and front and rear ARB air lockers. There are two onboard air compressors to actuate the ARB differential lockers. It also comes standard with Warn hubs, an alloy bullbar, brush guard, Warn front-mounted 16.5ti-s heavyweight winch (16,500 pounds of pull capacity), and radiator skid plate. A Vision X Shocker Dual Action LED light bar gives plenty of illumination up front.

The models' exterior is made of marine-grade materials, the likes of which can be found on luxury yachts worldwide. EarthCruiser has included sound damping material, which also helps regulate the temperature inside the RV.

There are two sleeping areas - three if you opt for the available sky bed. EarthCruiser says that the main full-size bed has 44 inches of headroom above it. The fiberglass molded dinette has leather cushions with under-seat storage. The table swings away and the area converts to a second bed.

There is a full-height shower and a composting toilet on-board. There is also an exterior hot and cold water shower, water faucet, and purified drinking water faucet.

Earthcruiser Dual Cab FX &  EXP: Kitchen

Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser


Clean and purified water comes from an interior-mounted Shurflo freshwater pump and purification system. Water tanks hold water for later use.

Other amenities include a galley-style kitchen that fits an Isotherm 4.24 cubic-foot 12-volt upright stainless steel refrigerator/freezer, casement-style windows, a one-piece fiberglass countertop with induction cooktop and stainless steel sink, and a coffee bar located next to the dinette.

The RV comes standard with a 400 am lithium battery and buyers can choose to upgrade to double that size. To keep charged up, the system uses a Mastervolt DC/DC 50A alternator charger, 3000W Mastervolt Combi inverter/charger, and three 108 watt SUNFLARE solar panels. Up to five solar panels are available.

There are AC, 12-volt, and USB outlets. A master control panel allows for easy access to critical systems. Interior and exterior LED lights vary in brightness and density. A dual alternator charging system is available.

EarthCruiser has equipped the RVs with a gas-powered Webasto Air Top Evo 40, along with a Bosch hot water heater.

There's plenty of storage too. EarthCruiser has designed each model to have flush-mounted and lockable storage cubbies, chassis-mounted storage boxes, an available fiberglass rear-mounted storage box, storage compartments under the bed, under-cooktop and sink-top storage, and under-cabin storage.

Additional options include a a rear-mounted WARN winch, second locking/tilting spare tire carrier, additional sound-deadening materials, bumper-mounted expedition kit, upgraded exterior light packages, microwave, bug screen, air conditioner, composting toilet, and a forward-facing camera.

EarthCruiser can also customize the models for winter use with thermal barriers and redundant freeze protection systems.

Depending on the model you choose, the EarthCruiser FX and EXP will cost you either slightly less or significantly more than a Mercedes-Maybach S 650. With options, you're heading into Rolls-Royce territory.

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