The scene is a gas station somewhere in Illinois or Indiana. It’s 2012, I’m 21 years old and Macky and I are driving his beat up Subaru Legacy across the country. (To read my three part treatise on the Subaru’s demise, click here, here and here.) It’s August. It’s hot. And I’m hungry. No, that’s not accurate: I’m far, far past hungry. Somehow I have forgotten to eat to the point where I’m dizzy, angry and irrational. I’m sitting on the gasoline-stained pavement moaning. Macky is making me a sandwich and I am resolutely explaining to him why I plan on refusing to eat it. I hate bread. The cheese smells funny. We should have brought a cooler. The air conditioning in his car sucks. Everything sucks.
The sad part is that this was not an isolated incident. This happened all the time. Sometimes it was Macky, but usually it was me, flopped in an odd position on a surface of questionable hygiene, bemoaning the world and refusing to do the one thing that was guaranteed to make me feel better — eat. Why did I refuse to eat when I knew I was hungry? Usually it was because, in my hangry-induced stupor, I felt like I had stumbled upon an essential truth. I had figured out what was wrong with me. I was wronged by the world. And if I were to eat something, I would likely forget about the problem (me being wrong by the world) and therefore fail to deal with it (most likely because the problem didn’t really exist, but try telling me that when I’m hungry).
You can probably guess how this story ends. I eat the sandwich and I am able, once again, to view the world through my customary rose-tinted glasses. Shocker. But like I said, that didn’t stop the scenario from repeating itself, over and over again. It still happens, although somewhat less frequently. To every person who says they’re jealous of my metabolism — well, obviously you’ve never seen me when I’m hangry.
In the past year I’ve gotten a lot better at this whole remembering-to-eat thing, and there have only been a few crises. In this period, Macky and I have driven the length of New Zealand twice, from Colorado to British Columbia and back, and just now, all the way across the US and back. So, if there’s one thing I’m an expert on, it’s the extended road trip. And if there’s one aspect of the road trip that I particularly feel like I now excel at, it’s eating. Eating a lot.
When Macky and I drove from Taos, NM to Athens, OH in late October, we fulfilled our goal of NOT BUYING ANY CRAPPY ROAD FOOD. Win. And also, not murdering eachother. Double win. I spent $1.85 on coffee one morning, but other than that, we ate all our own provisions. Here is what we packed to make that possible:
8 breakfast burritos
10 homemade pita breads
4 baked potatoes
8 hardboiled eggs
1 block of cheese
1 lb of turkey
1 container of hummus
12 homemade banana bread muffins
4 dehydrated meals from Good To-Go Foods.
So, like, um, way more than you ever would think necessary to sustain two people for less than two days. But, as will be totally unsurprising to everyone who knows us, we ate it all. And we were pretty much the happiest roadtrippers ever.
The dehydrated food was specifically awesome because instead of buying shitty roadside food and having to be grumpy about spending money on shitty things, we just pulled over at a rest stop and heated up some water in our Jetboil. Which, admittedly, felt a bit dirtbaggy, since we were doing this in the middle of the night in the lobby of public restroom, but, hey, it was cold outside. And while I usually wouldn’t touch dehydrated food with a ten-foot selfie stick, Good To-Go is actually real food crafted by a gourmet chef, so it’s pretty delicious. The Thai green curry is on point and there is something especially awesome about buzzing down the highway, stuffing your face with gourmet curry. Feels a little bit like tricking the system. Suck it, soggy Subway sandwiches, we never liked you anyway.
So how have I managed to [almost] vanquish the hangries? If it boils down to one thing, it’s this: by being prepared. Extremely, fucking prepared. If I’m going on a short bike ride, I just pretend I’m going on a four-day backcountry venture through Antarctica and that’s how much food I bring. Problem solved. Six hour roadtrip? At least three full meals, let’s be real.
Because we eat like professional athletes but have the financial means of professional dirtbags (oh wait…), Macky and I have figured out how to mass produce cheap, delicious real food. We make our own pita bread, our own hummus and, obviously, our own burritos. We rarely buy processed foods and we almost never go out to eat. We are lucky, however, to work with some awesome companies likes Justin’s Nut Butter and Taos Mountain Energy Bars, that help us fend off the hangries with snacks made out of high quality, real food ingredients. Having a stash of Caramel Pecan TME bars and single serving peanut butters makes staying on top of our metabolisms so much easier (and so much more delicious). It’s still a learning process, however, and some days the hangries just creep up, unannounced and completely unwarranted (like, I just ate two burritos, HOW AM I POSSIBLY HUNGRY AGAIN GO AWAY FEELINGS). But it’s been awhile since I had a true, proper hunger-related meltdown, so I guess you could say I’m growing up.
If you have any advice or suggestions for managing hanger on the road, put them in the comments below. I’m open to pretty much everything short of eating doritos or sewing protein bars into my clothing. In the meantime, happy (well-fed) travels!
Learn more about our brand ambassador Syd Shultz (aka Nomadically Inclined) here: http://www.freewheellifeblog.com/mountain-biking/vanquishing-travel-hangries