(Formally "Plan V: A Van Dwelling Blog", when I lived in a 1978 Dodge Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome van)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Recycling the best cooler for temporary use

Next month I will be taking about a 3 week road trip in my car out to Arkansas (from Washington) and back.

One thing that has nagged at me has been what to do for food/drink on the cheap. Since it's only a 3 week trip, and so much money is going to gas already, I didn't want to invest in a new cooler.

Eventually I'd like to get a Yeti cooler from REI, but it's $250. Even with the current 20% off promotion, it's $200 plus tax for the "Roadie 20". The "Tundra 30" is $300 and might be the size I'd prefer. Maybe next year I can get one.

Anyhow, I ended up finding a used Omaha Steaks mailer cooler for $2 from a thrift store. Being careful with it, it should last me the entire trip. Even if it doesn't, I left a cheap, large, rolling cooler out in Arkansas at a family member's house.

Since it's going to be May in the south, I might end up using two coolers for the 5-7 days I am there. Chipped ice can be had very cheap from "Twice the ice" vending machines. Even if the Omaha foam one only lasts a week to get out there, I'll have a plastic one for free to bring back. However, I think the foam one should work nicely the entire trip if handled carefully enough. I'll probably bring the plastic one back with me anyway.

As you can see, it's just about as thick as the Yeti coolers so I think it may perform just about as well. The inside dimensions are 20x13x12. Plenty large enough for dry ice, chipped ice and food/drinks for one person. (In fact it might be overkill...)

I have a Coleman thermoelectric cooler I got down in Quartzsite back in 2013 that is about the same exterior dimensions, in terms of how much space it'll take up in the car, but you have to be careful with the melted ice due to the electric motor. I can't run it 24 hours a day either, so it's really not very useful. I may as well go with the Omaha cooler and not have to plug it in. It has much thicker insulation so no thermoelectric cooling is needed really.

I will probably get a small bit of dry ice for the bottom then put a bag of "party" (chipped) ice on top of that for drinks/extra layer, then put my food/drinks on top. I'm hoping it'll last at least 3 days at a time. It might last longer, being such a thick cooler, but we'll see.

I also got an igloo thermos cooler thing with a spout on top, so I can fill it with ice and use it for drinks/water without having to constantly open the cooler. The cost of drinks is what can eat you alive traveling, not so much the cost of food.