Coffee filters the Clan's No. 1 road trip staple

Coffee filters accompany the Clan everywhere we go in our big white van. We've found it almost impossible to get through long road trips without them.
By : 
Lydia Hanson
Too Hick to be Square

Going on a road trip with the Clan is always an adventure.

There’s no earthly way you can take 15 people anywhere without that being the case, particularly not when they’re crammed in the same metal container and wedged between car seats and other warm bodies.

Tempers will flair. Bladders will crave release when we’re 15 minutes from the nearest pit stop. The volume of contained and pent up energy will reach a deafening point.

In other words, joining the Hansen Clan for an extended journey in our big white van (otherwise known as “the school bus”) is a risk. And not just because you’re climbing into a big, white van, which I’ve heard you’re generally not advised to do.

One of the issues encountered on a Clan road trip, as with our everyday life, is being able to assure the assembled (and discontented) masses that food will be dispensed at regular intervals.

However, we can’t do that by making a stop at a fast food joint because the drive-up people at McDonald’s don’t what know how to respond when Dad pulls up and asks for 30 burgers to go.

So instead of ordering food on the road, we keep a variety of food options on hand and pack them advance for road trips to make everyone’s life much easier.

By now, we’ve got our road trip food packing list down to a science, but the key to success, we’ve learned from past experience, is to bring simple stuff that’s easy for little kids to eat without a lot of help or utensils.

The other important step is to make sure it’s easy to pass back four benches to the back row. Clearly anything highly fluid or prone to messy spills isn’t going to make the cut, but even trail mix can be problematic when you dish out melty M&M’s to toddlers and ask them to hold them in their hands without spilling.

Mom’s unreasonable, but she’s definitely not stupid and knows that plan is never going to work.

That’s where our Number 1 road-dining staple comes in: coffee filters.

Mom buys cheap coffee filters and keeps entire 100-count packages stashed in the van, in our bins of camping gear, and even in the kitchen cupboards in case of emergencies. Not coffee emergencies, you understand. They’re for road trip packing emergencies when we can’t find the 247 other coffee filters that are stashed somewhere in the van or bins of camping gear.

Those coffee filters are literally a life-saver when we’re eating on the road. From the passenger seat, Mom can fill filters with trail mix, crackers, dried bananas, or whatever it is that we’re eating at the time, and safely pass them back as many benches as necessary. No more passing full bags with the top unzipped. No more sticky handfuls of melting M&M’s.

Coffee filters are also something little kids can handle by themselves, which is important when their big seat buddies become distracted by all the melty M&M’s in their trail mix.

We might go through a restaurant supply of coffee filters when we’re driving to the North Shore for camping trips, but it’s totally worth it.