Last week we travelled to Botswana by car. It was a 4-hour road trip from Johannesburg with about another half an hour going through the border posts. We travelled during the day so that we would avoid rush-hour traffic leaving the city and so that we could enjoy the countryside. Driving through North-West province towards the border with Botswana, life simply seemed to slow down for a little while. The air was so much cleaner than what we’re used to in the city. There were fewer cars than on Gauteng roads, and we enjoyed sunny weather along the way too. It was a peaceful and happy road trip with lots to see.


South Africa countryside


Packing food, water and cool drinks for our road trip took quite a bit of thought and planning ahead of time though. I had a fairly reasonable but small budget in mind. I also wanted us to be as prepared as possible so that we wouldn’t have to spend money along the way: convenience stores at petrol stations tend to be pricey on the most basic of foods and drinks. We also wanted to reduce the number of times we would have to eat out because the meals were quite expensive. Just to give you a feel for the prices: the hotel where we stayed at didn’t include breakfast in their rates, and that would have cost us between 60-80 Pula per day for two people (R112.00 – R168.00), which is quite a lot.


So we buckled up and packed up two fairly large cooler bags with us with lots of ice blocks that kept our food cold for about 48 hours. On the day, I made sandwiches for us (which lasted us for 2 whole days, for both lunch and dinner) and packed those in resealable bags, and I also prepared a very large thermos with coffee. I then packed a variety of fairly inexpensive items for breakfast, light lunch or dinner and snacks:



  • Jungle Oat-so-easy in a cup
  • Baker’s Breakfast biscuits
  • Rusks
  • Energy bars


Light Lunch or Dinner

  • Crackers & cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Knorr Cup-a-soup
  • Knorr Cup-a-snack
  • 2-minute Noodles
  • Salt, pepper



  • Carrots (peeled & washed)
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate slab


Food to pack


We also took a few cool drinks with us as well as enough water to last us the few days that we were away, and by the time we got back home – it was all gone! Driving in the car can get a bit hot, you’re always munching on something or the other (at least we were!) so one tends to get more thirsty than usual. If you are buying bottled water, it’s a good idea to buy two or three 1-litre bottles and the rest possibly in 5-litre bottles, which is cheaper, and just refill the smaller ones for a day or two.


If you are filling up your own glass bottles, which is even cheaper and gentler on the environment, make sure you take enough with you. Buying water bottles in convenience stores, petrol stations or even at a hotel will cost you a whole lot more. Just to give you a comparison, a 1-litre bottle of water cost 20 Pula at a hotel in Botswana which is about R28.00, and for less than that I actually bought a 5-litre bottle of water at our local supermarket before our road trip!


Most of the foods we took with us were non-perishable foods so they lasted us for the few days that we were there. I spent R400.00 for all our food and drinks (including bottled water) which is a lot less than what it would have cost us eating out along the way and during our stay. The Food Lover’s Market energy bars cost only R3.50 and the 5-litre bottled water I found on special for R24.00 at our local Spar. I also packed some 3-in-1 coffee sachets for us as well our own food utensils, soup bowls and small dinner plates, a couple of dish cloths, a small container of dish-washing liquid and our own kettle (call me crazy but I just didn’t know if one would be provided or not…) All in all, we were well prepared!


Which non-perishable food items do you pack when you’re traveling long distance?


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