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13 Tips on How To Keep Food Hot While Traveling


Even though packing hot meals on a journey is pretty common, maintaining the right temperature is a hassle nobody enjoys. Proper storage is crucial to prevent food from going bad or becoming cold. To ensure that your food remains hot until you reach your destination, here are some helpful tips.


Why Do You Need To Keep Food Warm?


Before we get into the ways to keep food hot while traveling, here are 3 reasons why you need to do so:


1)  Hot Food Tastes Better


A man eating a burger with his hands
Credit: Envato Elements/ AnnaStills


Certain foods like steak or chicken gravy simply taste better when warm. Can you imagine biting into a chilly steak? The thought itself is enough to make us cringe in disgust. To enjoy food fresh and hot, it's important to keep it at the right temperature.


2)  Warm Food Helps Your Digestive System


An image of the human digestive system with a happy face

Credit: iStock


The human digestive system works better with liquids and foods that are warm since it doesn't have to work as hard to digest the food. Your digestive system is jolted and forced to work harder to break down the nutrients in the meal when you eat cold food or even food that is at room temperature.


3)  Keeping Food Warm Lowers the Possibility of Food Contamination


A pale green plate with a wooden knife and fork and mouldy bread on the plate

Credit: Envato Elements/ lyalya_go


Last but not least, keeping your food warm reduces the chances of bacteria growing on it, which can cause stomach issues like diarrhea or nausea. So if you want to prevent bacteria from multiplying, make sure to keep your food warm.


How to Keep Food Hot While Traveling



Wondering how to keep food warm when transporting it or while traveling long distances? Here are a few ways:


1)  Use a Towel and an Aluminum Foil


Shredded aluminum foil

Credit: Envato Elements/ pioneer111


Wrapping food with aluminum foil is the simplest and most popular way to keep it hot while traveling. Depending on the food, you can wrap it in two different ways:


  • If you are packing foods like a sandwich or hamburger, simply grab a sheet of foil and carefully wrap it around the food.

  • If you have a dish like lasagna, place it in a casserole dish and cover the top with foil. Make sure there are no gaps. The food will stay warm for around 30 to 60 minutes if you completely wrap it.


To keep the food warmer for longer, you can also place a towel on top of the aluminum foil. The towel will act as an insulator and prevent steam and moisture from escaping.


2)  Get Insulated Liners and a Cooler


Nice Pack insulated thermal liners

Credit: Nice Packs 



While a cooler is typically used to keep food cold, it can also keep food warm. This is because of its insulation design, which helps maintain the temperature inside the cooler for a long time.

To ensure that your cooler keeps the food warm, pack it with insulated liners. Insulated liners like the ones from Nice Packs offer high-performance heat control due to their reflective properties. If you don't have insulated liners, you can always use hot bricks or heat packs as an alternative.


3)  Use Thermal Products


A person carrying a big bright yellow thermal bag to the car

Credit: Envato Elements/ RossHelen


You can keep food warm for hours without electricity using thermal products like thermoses or thermal bags.

Thermoses have a vacuum interior and a double-walled stainless steel exterior that prevent steam from escaping. Thermal bags, on the other hand, are similar to aluminum foils but are more effective and lighter due to the layers of foil, plastic, and cardboard. To make sure your meal stays hotter for longer, pack your thermal bags and thermoses with a heat pack.


4)  Add Hot Water Bottles


A rose gold hot water bottle with a red lid

Credit: Envato Elements/ FabrikaPhoto


To keep your food extra hot, fill a single-wall stainless steel bottle with boiling hot water, or use plastic bottles or containers with warm water. You can place your hot water bottle next to your food, in a thermal bag, or in a cooler.


5)  Get a Travel-Sized Food Warmer


A travel size food warmer that plugs into car lighter

Credit: Skywin Road


If you're traveling by car, find a portable food warmer that you can plug into your car's cigarette lighter socket. Fill the cooler with hot food while you're on the move and plug it in. The cooler will use the car's power to keep the food at a safe temperature.


6)  Keep the Windows Down and A/C Off


A lady with her head sticking out the open car window

Credit: Envato Elements/ JohnJK


Here's another tip for when you're traveling by car. Using the air conditioner lowers the inside temperature of the car, affecting everything inside, including your hot food. Instead, roll down your windows. This will help you keep cool without changing the food's temperature.


7)  Make Your Food Super Hot


Some pots on a gas stove heating up food

Credit: Envato Elements/ FabrikaPhoto


Normal heating temperatures make the food cool down fast. Once the meal is cooked, pack it immediately into the containers you'll be using. Then just before leaving, heat up it up again.


8)  Wrap the Food in Warm Clothing


Some jerseys in a pile on the chair

Credit: Envato Elements/ Nina_p_v


Warm clothing is designed to be a great insulator, keeping both your body and your food warm. To keep your food warm while you're traveling, wrap it in multiple layers of winter clothing.


9)  Use an Electric Blanket


A person plugging in an electric blanket to warm up ready for use

Credit: The Spruce


A portable electric blanket makes it easy to carry hot food in a car. These blankets have different heat settings and are large enough to cover a buffet's worth of hot food. They also come with a timer that automatically turns off every 45 minutes for safety. All you need to do is plug it into your car's 12-volt power socket.


10)  Prevent the Steam From Escaping


A bowl of soup on a red cloth being opened by a person

Credit: Instructables


When steam emerges from hot food, tiny water molecules absorb the heat, making the food cool down faster. But if you trap the steam and don't let it escape, your food will stay scorching hot for a lot longer. To ensure this, make sure to use a container that is vacuum-sealed.


11)  Do Not Pack Cold and Hot Foods Together


A person sitting in front of a plate of piping hot food with steam coming off it

Credit: Orissa Post


When you pack your food, be careful not to mix hot and cold items together. If you do, the heat from the warmer container will transfer to the colder one. This can make your hot food cool down and your cold food warm up.


12)  Wrap it in Newspaper or Cardboard


A pile of newspapers waiting to be used

Credit: Envato Elements/ BrianAJackson


If you don't have any of the items mentioned earlier, you can use cardboard or newspaper as a backup. Paper and cardboard are good insulators, so wrapping food in several layers of them helps it stay warm for longer. For a better cardboard insulator, you can try insulated shipping boxes like those from Nice Packs. These containers are designed to keep food at a steady temperature.


13)  Place the Food in the Trunk of the Car


A man opening the trunk of his car so he can put items inside

Credit: Envato Elements/ DragonImages


As a final option, you can store your hot meal in the trunk of your car on a hot day. But remember, this method might not work in winter or if your car has a cold trunk.


Additional Tips for Keeping Food Hot While Traveling


Here are some bonus tips to help ensure your meals stay warm and delicious:


  • If you're making a stop during your journey, take the opportunity to reheat your food if needed. Many gas stations and rest areas have microwaves.
  • Before packing your hot food, pre-warm your cooler or thermal bag by placing a hot water bottle or heated rice bag inside for a few minutes.
  • If you're traveling by car, consider insulating the trunk or cargo area where you'll be storing your food. You can use foam boards or blankets.
  • Once your hot food is packed, try to avoid opening containers or bags unnecessarily. Every time you open them, you allow heat to escape.




How long can food stay hot while traveling?

It depends on the type of food, insulation method, and ambient temperature. Generally, properly insulated food can stay hot for up to a few hours.


Can I use plastic containers to keep food hot?

Yes, but it's recommended to use containers specifically designed for hot food or those labeled as microwave-safe to prevent potential melting or leaching of harmful chemicals. 


Can I use the same methods to keep cold food cold while traveling?

Yes, you can. Insulated containers, coolers, and ice packs are particularly effective.


Can I use the methods mentioned for air travel?

Some methods, such as thermal bags and insulated containers, can be used for air travel. However, be sure to check airline regulations regarding food and beverage items before packing.




So there you have it – our top tips to keep your food warm while traveling. Nothing's worse than ending up with cold food after putting in all that effort to prepare it. With the tips we've shared, your meals will stay piping hot for hours on end.

And if you want to take your food-warming game to the next level, consider investing in insulated liners from Nice Packs. With its high-performance heat control, you can rest assured that your meals will stay warm and delicious throughout your journey. Shop with us today.


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