After years of scrappy productions, I've got a list of everything you need to pack for sustenance on a remote shoot.
I’m making an effort here to write more about our experience in starting a company that really reflects our values (more on that later), and one of those values is to not just do good work, but to do good. That means for the community, but also for ourselves. How can work be good for you; for more than your wallet? This question gets especially interesting when you’re in a different location nearly every night, with rotating team members, a lot of heavy road food, very little exercise, and not a lot of sleep.
One of the seemingly small things that I put a lot of thought into is how we fuel ourselves and our team when we are out on the road, so I made a road kit to include breakfast and snacks throughout the day, plus some basic necessities like sunscreen and bug spray. I wanted to avoid processed and sugary foods that burn us out, but also to create a sort of road kit that was high in protein and fiber, with a focus on whole foods. And since most of us like a bit of caffeine in the morning, it was key to have some coffee options when there’s not a coffee shop for miles. That said, this list is made with the assumption that lunch and dinner are otherwise provided.
Below is essentially a shopping list for a road trip shoot, which has evolved over the last 5 years where I’ve done more and more of these in often remote places. But I think it could also work for a shoot that’s in one remote place without craft services! This is just for keeping everyone healthy and energized throughout the day, so it doesn't include things like a first aid kit, gaffer tape, or flashlights, although those are important too. I included links where I use something specific, but there are lots of options out there.
One quick note: my partner, Jeff, and I like to stay with our team in an AirBNB so we can keep it family-style and work/eat/hang around the living room or dining room. I think it’s important that everyone has their own room as much as possible though, because you need a little solo time on a long shoot. So sometimes we have multiple houses for the crew if we can’t find a place big enough to hold us all. That said, an AirBNB means we all have a kitchen every morning, so we can make a few things for breakfast before we hit the road for the day. I'll note where that important below.
And another important reminder: most cities with an airport have a decent grocery store option. Our favorite is Trader Joe’s because it's cheap but has a healthy assortment, so we try to hit that as soon as we land and get our production vehicles. If you get too far outside of a town/city with an airport before you stop to make your road kit, you’re going to find your options pretty limited.
Here is our travel kit list, per car.
None of these items require refrigeration:
- A crate of bottled water
- Instant coffee: Starbucks (black) and Trader Joe’s (with milk and sugar built in) make single serving options that can be added to hot water. This is an easy option because you should always have access to hot water, even in a hotel. You could also try the bottled options if cold is okay, you have a cooler, and you have the space.
- Tea: green and black, plus something herbal for nighttime
- Dried oatmeal packets
- Dried almonds and sunflower or hemp seeds
- Dried veggie and bean snacks (wasabi peas, kale chips, green bean and okra puffs, dried chickpeas, bean medleys, etc)
- Dehydrated fruit (we like mango and blueberries, and fruit bars - but check the sugar levels and avoid corn syrup; not all bars are created equally)
- Creamers (get this one if you want bulletproof coffee) and honey packets
- Bug spray
- Sunscreen (Skin So Soft is both a bug repellant and sunscreen that we prefer)
If you have access to a kitchen, as we do, these extras can really help start the day off right when you’re out in the wild. But they can also require refrigeration OR utensils, so plan accordingly.
- 1 cooler
- 1 bag of ice
- Eggs (1-2 per person, per day)
- Rye or whole wheat bread
- Almond butter
- Butter/ghee packets
- Single serving full-fat or 2% Greek yogurt (check the sugar levels before you buy; fat-free is a sugar bomb)
- Plastic knives & spoons
Finally, you’ll want to get some other basics:
- Zip-lock bags and a Sharpie (I use these to divide everything up between cars and reduce our packaging, but these also prevent messes once you've opened other snack bags)
- Paper towels
- Wet wipes
- Trash bags (or recycle the grocery bags)
We’ve been able to cover all of this for a crew of 12 for under $200 a week, including the cooler. Not bad!
My Own Suitcase Stash:
Personally, there are some other things that seem to keep me healthier one the road, which I usually pack when I’m traveling. If you’re on the road a lot, you might like this stuff, too.
- STAMBA Travel (This is like a little whole food bomb of goodness that keeps you vibrant and healthy, alert, and regular… which can be an extra travel challenge!)
- Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C (Some people like Emergen-C, but I feel like this works better for me. It’s pure vitamin C delivered in lipid spheres, so basically your body is able to absorb more of it. Not that I’m a scientist, or anything...)
- Dr. Dennis Gross C+ spray (I have a pretty regular face routine, but somehow moisturizer doesn’t seem to work when I travel UNLESS I use this)
- Aquaphor (the only lip balm you’ll ever need, in travel size)
- An 18oz YETI rambler (I load it with hot coffee in the morning, and then cold water in the afternoon and night - it's super diverse and helps me keep track of my own beverage in a full car or chaotic film set where all the disposable coffee cups and water bottles look the same. I like the green one, and I got this lid for hot stuff and this one for cold stuff and bumpy roads!)
I'm curious to hear if anyone else has go-to shopping items or items you MUST pack to stay healthy and hydrated on the road. Let me know if I've missed anything!