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Portable Kitchen

In the age of Covid, especially Omnicron, I am eating less and less in restaurants and eating more take-away in my hotel room and using food delivery.

But sometimes, they forget things like utensils or basic seasoning. So, I now carry, and actually have been carrying, a set of lexan cutlery (knife, fork, spoon) for awhile. They are allowed in carry on because they are plastic. I used to also carry a small plastic plate but found I used it less and less. The lexan is strong so it won't break. It's lso washable and reusable. I've had my current set for over 2 years.

Some will also pack chopsticks. There are also combo kits available online and in sporting goods stores. (Camping section.)

I will also pick up packets of salt and pepper from any fast food or takeaway place and put them in a small snack sized ziploc bag.

All of the above weighs virtually nothing.

I also carry an immersion heater and cup so I can make a cup of coffee or tea in my room.

Anyone else do this or take something different?

Posted by
3056 posts

We are currently staying 12 nights in a hotel that has no coffee maker in the room but has a microwave. We brought 12 paper coffee cones with us to make pour over coffee every morning. We bought Kona coffee here and use a paper cup with holes poked in the bottom as a filter “cone”. We hate having to be presentable to leave the room for coffee in the morning and this has been enough to get us going.

Posted by
2407 posts

Frank, I also do what you do. I have salt packets (no pepper) with me as well as tea bags, a mug (sometimes I buy one), an immersive heater because water run through a coffee machine tastes like coffee, and plastic utensils (usually just two of each). If there is a coffee machine the hotel will usually provide a creamer or I will take extra from the breakfast room. I can’t use the powdered stuff.

Posted by
20849 posts

On my recent trips to Europe I've taken a couple of high-impact-plastic utensils that have a fork on one end and a spoon on the other. One stays in my purse so I can eat something like yogurt on the go; the other lives in my hotel room. I've had one snap in half in my hand, which was odd, because I had only put it in the dishwasher a few times, and those things are supposed to be dishwasher safe. I believe there are two different kinds of plastic used for such utensils; I found an explanation on one of the sellers' pages on Amazon a couple of years ago. They are also sold in the camping sections of some Walmarts.

I do take something I can use as a plate, because I often buy fresh tomatoes from a market and need a place to slice them and contain the juice as I eat them. It's also handy for slicing cheese. My pseudo-plate is a flexible-plastic cover from a plate-size, round carry-out container. After four or five trips in a checked suitcase, it has just a single, 1-inch crack and is still usable.

Since I check my bag, I am able to take a serrated steak knife for the aforementioned tomatoes and cheese. I also use it for bread. I think a plastic knife wouldn't work as well. If I were a carry-on-only traveler, I'd buy a serrated knife as soon as I could after arrival.

I have a small camping salt-and-pepper container I take with me due to the extended length of my trips. That's what I use in my hotel room. I have a few of the small paper packets tucked in my purse but I'm not sure I've ever used them.

I also take Zip Lock bags of various sizes, plus two reusable, sealable plastic bags for food that has been opened or might get messy as I carry it around (e.g., berries). I've had mixed result with the reusable bags; some don't seal well at all. Definitely read current online reviews and test those out at home multiple times before taking them on a trip. One brand is Blue Avocado.

Posted by
9550 posts

For years I've carried a spork, a plastic knife, a "plate" and a bandana that I use for a placemat. The "plate" is the lid off a plastic Folgers coffee container. I think we wound up throwing the coffee away, lol but the lid has traveled a lot of miles since about 2013! Sporks come and go...the last ones I got at Eddie Bauer outlet and I also had one just break with no history of the dishwasher or heavy use. I usually have a few back up plastic forks and spoons packed in various locations along with ziplocks, a small pouch with teabags and sugar.

When I travel here in the US (mostly to Yellowstone) I take along an electric kettle. No cooking is allowed in the rooms but heating water is allowed so that gets me oatmeal and tea.

I've eyed one of those cool French Opinel pocket knives but have not taken the plunge. I check my suitcase so no problem losing it thru security.

Pam,
Opinel makes many knives. The #8 for about $15 -20 is good for picnics. It’s an old fashioned style knife. There are many folding knives that would serve you well. You may want an Ontario rat #1 or #2 in Aus-8 steel. The rats are easier to keep clean and are still slicey. Basically, you want a thin, slicey knife for food. The Kershaw leek is thin and slicey as well. There are many choices here. It’s just about cost. Victorinox Swiss Army knives provide a huge variety. Note: some countries like England have strict knife laws. I think opinel would be fine in most places.

Posted by
3056 posts

Thanks for the link to the clever Japanese pour over filters. I’ll wait to show him when we get home, he’s doing such a good job with the cup with holes poked in the bottom and our inexpensive filters from home.

I forgot to mention another “field kitchen” item that we always used to pack but not much now since we had a few favorite ones taken away by TSA. We would always have a wine corkscrew packed somewhere and even without the little cutter blade they were sometimes taken away. Now we buy one in Europe and leave it behind or bring it home if we check a bag for the return trip. That would explain the many styles of wine openers we have in a drawer at home.

Posted by
4211 posts

We picnic a lot, so we've been carrying utensils for years. Wine drinkers should always carry some type of cork pull although in a pinch, I can figure out how to get a bottle open without a pull!

I'd be careful about knives and scissors. In France, the TSA took the child's scissor with the rounded tips away that I always carry for moleskin, etc. I don't know what they think I could do with a kindergarten type scissors.

When I encounter a plastic knife that slices particularly well, I save it as long as I can.

I often carry a few packages of oatmeal for quick breakfasts.

What immersion heater would people recommend?

Posted by
4359 posts

If I’m traveling by myself, I prefer to eat half of my dinners in my room - some veggies, yogurt and/or salad from a grocery store or market. And I like a cup of coffee in my room while I’m getting dressed and occasionally a cup of herbal tea in the evening (iced if in a US hotel). So this is what I pack:

A silicone collapsible cup - I use this instead of any hotel cup, too. In a pinch, even tap hot water works for that first cup of coffee. It’s a bright color, so I don’t accidentally leave it behind.

Nescafé Tasters Choice French Roast coffee sticks. (I like them better than Starbucks Via)

Bigelow Raspberry herbal tea

Plastic - 3 forks, 2 spoons, 1 knife

1-3 of each snack, sandwich, quart, & gallon Ziplock bags. for leftover veggies or anything during the trip.

I also pack the individual packs of nuts from Costco which is a good protein snack while I have jet lag, on a long train or to pair with the veggies for dinner.

Posted by
3255 posts

We enjoy French Press coffee. I purchased a travel French Press a couple years ago for road trips like this one from REI. Light weight and keeps the coffee hot for an hour. https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwjUlu7Fx-H0AhWXGa0GHdHSA-4YABASGgJwdg&ohost=www.google.com&cid=CAASE-Ro22rBAZWjlhD70Ns77UJR2vQ&sig=AOD64_2JIFGt43B5IqQNfm2RBqZnkNQdKQ&ctype=46&q=&ved=2ahUKEwjs3-DFx-H0AhUlMn0KHcq5DyEQzzl6BAgBECI&adurl=
I see that Amazon offers the same one and also a single press cup size. I may order this size for future international trips. Edited https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwjendm8y-H0AhVzIK0GHdZIAC0YABAZGgJwdg&ae=2&sig=AOD64_0E1Y316dHTzWbh9flMtLU5eO0Rew&ctype=5&q=&ved=2ahUKEwip8s-8y-H0AhU0HDQIHSxnCb0Qwg96BAgBEDg&dct=1&adurl=

Posted by
7 posts

jules m - Lewis and Clark make a good immersion heater - they make a dual voltage one but I only have the 110 version.

For coffee lovers - can’t say enough good things about AeroPress - the travel version is excellent.

Posted by
3255 posts

whisper- that AeroPress travel version sounds excellent! I will take a further look at that. Thanks for the recommendation.

Posted by
4211 posts

I love aeropress coffee, and did not know there is a travel version! I've been using something like this for years. I take it camping and have started to bring it for travel. I use regular coffee filters and drip coffee. This thing takes up very little space.

https://www.rei.com/product/115648/sea-to-summit-x-brew-coffee-dripper

These plastic sheets and can be used for "plates" for cutting literally take up no room:

https://www.amazon.com/Carrollar-Flexible-Non-Porous-Dishwasher-7-5x11-4inch/dp/B08SBZFTS1/ref=sr_1_15?keywords=plastic+sheets+for+cutting+food&qid=1639436565&sr=8-15

I always try to pick up a beautiful dish towel reflective of where I'm traveling to use as a little tablecloth and eventually a souvenir.

Thanks for the rec on the immersion heater

Posted by
9999 posts

As we travel long (8+ weeks in Europe each year) we do check bags and I take 3 kitchen knives, the non-stick colorful ones with sheaths. We rent apartments and cook a lot and rentals seldom have knives that will cut anything. A corkscrew and wine stopper go into the checked bag as well.

Acraven mentioned Ziplocs and I take a good supply of those everywhere as well as some Bees Wrap wraps (coated fabric) that are reusable and handy for wrapping sandwiches or non-juicy leftovers like cheese bread, etc.

Posted by
4359 posts

Jules M, the plastic sheet cutting boards you use as a plate have another use, too. I’ve used them as small seat sleds for our smaller grandkids for snow as long as they can keep their feet up or tightly cross-leg tucked. Maybe pack a few for the Alps to have your picnic & then sled down the hill - LOL!

Posted by
580 posts

We have the regular Aeropress, but my husband just bought something different for travel. He loves it because it is all in one and stays together.

https://www.amazon.com/bobble-French-Coffee-Presse-Insulation/dp/B08CJS1LKM/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=bobble%2BFrench%2Bpress&qid=1639576633&sr=8-6&th=1

We also have our titanium sporks from REI for backpacking, but have taken them on regular trips as well. Ours are well over 20 years, so the $10 or so each has been money well spent;)

REI also carried tiny bottles of sriracha and tobacco, so we keep a couple of those in our backpacking gear as well and pull out for regular travel on occassion.

Posted by
3255 posts

mikliz97- Thanks for recommending the Bobble French Press! So great to see new innovations since we purchased our original travel French Press several years ago. I like the all in one design & stainless steel. Another idea for holiday gift giving. ;J

Posted by
4211 posts

Jean, sort of like when our college food service would find it short of trays after a big snowfall

Posted by
1753 posts

If you plan to cook a lot in a rental apartment, you can pack a little of each of your favourite herbs or spices in one of those week long compartmentalized pill containers.
Just make sure it's a good one where the lids won't flip open in your luggage; don't buy a cheap one.

Posted by
580 posts

Janis--Yes, my husband bought one for himself and then a few for gifts. He is picky about his coffee, so was thrilled to find this so he can take his Camano Island Coffee with him;)

Posted by
5697 posts

DH wants his coffee at 6 a.m. so in Europe we pick up the Nestlé three-in-one packets (coffee, sugar, creamer) at the local grocery store and bring them home for domestic travel as well.
For me, packets of cocoa that can be made with water. And peppermint tea bags.

Posted by
3661 posts

This is a great discussion! I'm already researching some of the items suggested.

I have a special request for those who have the Bobble French Press. I finally saw some item weights for it on Amazon. One listing said it weighed 12 oz. One said 13.9 oz. The dimensions are okay, but the weight could be a deal-breaker for me. If you have a kitchen scale, could you weigh your Bobble French Press to see what that says?

Thanks from a person who doesn't like to be able to see through her coffee. ☕

Posted by
580 posts

Lo--Yes, I can weight it when he returns. I can do that on Saturday and let you know. You may have to remind me though;)

Posted by
3255 posts

mikliz, in addition to Lo’s inquiry regarding weight of French Press, is it leak proof? I have used a Timolino stainless commuter cup for years that is definitely leak proof. Thanks so much in advance. Yes, this is a great thread for travel needs!

Posted by
580 posts

Janis--I am waiting to hear from my husband, so will let you know how the test run went this week. He took it on a business trip and had high expectations. Will see!

Posted by
580 posts

I asked my husband about his thoughts. He said it didn't leak at all and that he loves it! I haven't weighed it yet, but will try this afternoon. A coworker had it and told him about it. She loves hers just as much, FWIW.

Posted by
5 posts

I love my AeroPress Go! If don’t have a kettle in the room, there are silicone travel kettles on Amazon, or choose a microwaveable mug. I also suggest SnapFold for plates and bowls. I carry a small double wall stainless steel mug, which cuts down on the need to carry a water bottle everywhere (just drink tap water whenever you are at a sink). Another excellent coffee brewing method for travel is the filter-free Vietnamese method, which is a stainless steel brewing chamber that sits on the cup. Lightweight standard cutlery is better than anything combo style for frequent use.

https://www.amazon.com/Fozzils-Snapfold-Solo-Pack-Bowl/dp/B07S87W3Y7/ref=asc_df_B07S87W3Y7/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=385149611662&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=3432008674862808873&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=t&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9002126&hvtargid=pla-1021847999272&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=85368089184&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=385149611662&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=3432008674862808873&hvqmt=&hvdev=t&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9002126&hvtargid=pla-1021847999272

Posted by
306 posts

At home I use a small plastic single-serving pour-over cone to sit on my coffee mug with a paper filter (cone or basket work). If I were taking anything for coffee on a trip, this would be it. Light (2.5 oz), simple and easy to clean. I may have to purchase an immersion heater.

My next trip is scheduled for March 1 starting in Italy. Any predictions on whether I get to go or not? :-(

I am buying an immersion heater today, darn it!

Posted by
10984 posts

For those of you who want to make coffee in your room, take a look at these.

Travel Coffee Filters

They work great, make good coffee, and take up very little space in your luggage.

I mentioned them earlier in the thread but thought some might have missed it.

Posted by
758 posts

We always take some "meals on our own" essentials depending on the tour we're on. Most of our tours are with a big tour company so most meals are included, but when on our own we like to pick up take out or items from the local markets. Sandwiches, cheese, fruit, etc.

I bought some super thin cutting boards at the dollar store. I cut one down and sewed a zippered bag to fit. In the bag I also pack some sporks, plastic knives, and a paring knife with cover. We also usually bring a cork screw. (All in checked bags) I also have a dual voltage tea kettle and sometimes buy a souvenir mug.

For coffee, I bring Trader Joes instant which comes in single serve sleeves with cream & sugar and my husband likes Starbuck Via coffees. I also bring a few favorite tea bags.

Like others I pack loads of zip lock bags in different sizes.

Posted by
10 posts

I purchased the RS picnic kit that he sells online, but it includes a corkscrew. Will it be confiscated by TSA? I wouldn't think RS would sell it if you couldn't carry it on the plane?

Posted by
1740 posts

Yes, I always take a corkscrew in my carry-on bag. It's a small plastic liquor store giveaway. Never had a problem.

Posted by
10984 posts

Corkscrews were previously banned but now they have seperated them into having a knife and not having a knife. Those with a knife are banned from carry on but non-knives are okay.

Posted by
37 posts

Here is my Rick Steves corkscrew story. I have carried the picnic set on many domestic and international journeys and never had need to use the corkscrew until a couple of years ago. My daughter and I decided to enjoy a bottle of wine in our room one evening.
I got out my RS corkscrew and carefully screwed it into the cork and then pulled - I suddenly was left with a plastic handle in my hand and a piece of metal sticking out of the cork. With much embarrassment, I presented myself and the bottle of wine at the front desk of our hotel. The nice young man there said, "No problem, I can help you with this" and disappeared into the office with the bottle. About five minutes later he returned and handed me the bottle and cork with the metal still sticking out. I noticed as he handed it to me that his other hand was wrapped with a white cloth through which blood was seeping. Feeling very badly, I apologized profusely but he just noted that this was all in his line of work! If I have need of a corkscrew in the future, I will buy a real one wherever I am and not attempt to use a plastic one again.

Posted by
439 posts

Always bring corkscrew, always buy a kitchen towel as well which does make a great souvenir and is useful throughout the trip, many ziplocks because they hold anything and everything, plastic toothpicks which are a must for DH, and also have used a coffee can top as a plate which is great because it has the lip so anything juicy doesn’t drip off. Also several years ago we bought a lanyard type water bottle carrier, that thing has been so great, tiny to pack but on long walks it keeps hands free. It loops around the top of the bottle and works like a lanyard, can be carried side or front. Sporks are great too. So agree with everyone on here these things are musts especially if you picnic or want to eat in your room.