As an OTR vandweller, I visit a lot of convenience stores for gas, cheap eats, and shits. (Literally, shits. Hey, that’s #vanlife!) Here’s Vanholio’s Top 5 Countdown.
Vanholio's Top 5 US Convenience Stores
No. 5 – Circle K
Found in a huge chunk of the ol’ USA, Vanholio counts on Circle K for good gas prices and, most importantly, Polar Pop! See, he carries a huge 64 oz. insulated mug with him. At Circle K, he can refill that fatass for only $0.89, plus tax!
The chain’s hot dog offerings vary by region, but usually you can get a 2-fur-1 special for $2 or $2.50! With my huge drink, that’s lunch for $3 or a tad more. Deal!
No. 4 — Pilot
OTR vandwellers like myself practically live at Pilots rest stops nationwide, almost as much as OTR truckers.
Soda and coffee refills are cheap at $0.99, even for my 64 oz. big boy. Hot dogs and gas are cheap, too. Pilot hot delis have some of America’s best, deep-cheese pizza at 2 slices for $5, and the breakfast tacos ain’t half bad.
You can park overnight in the lot. They’ve got free WiFi. And if you’re desperate for a shower, they have ‘em for $12, towels and soap provided – a hefty fucking price, but when it’s been a few weeks …
BTW, Pilot also owns Flying J, which for some reason sucks balls.
No. 3 – Casey’s General Stores
Donuts, baked goods, coffee, hot dogs, fresh pizza, subs, wraps, soft serve, fountain drinks, coffee, milk, eggs – Casey’s General Stores have a huge variety, all fresh, all cheap. It’s an amazing Midwest / Plains States chain. Plus they’re usually clean.
No. 2 – Maverik
A western / Rocky Mountains chain, Maverik has everything Vanholio loves – cheap gas, cheap hot dogs, awesome breakfast tacos, cheap soda and coffee refills, clean bathrooms, frequent candy sales, and good donuts.
Maverik hot delis usually have all kinds of fresh, tasty, reasonably priced foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
And in Utah, the soda fountain is stocked with lots of non-caffeinated sodas, in case you’re already flying a little high.
No. 1 – Stripes
Vanholio is a Texas boy, and Texas-based Stripes has been his mainstay for years.
Their in-store hot deli, Laredo Taco Company, has better Tex-Mex than most so-called Mexican restaurants, and they’re dirt cheap. Lunch plates with an entree, rice, beans, and tortillas are usually $3.99. In early mornings, folks line up for the $0.99 breakfast tacos, all on fresh, homemade flour tortillas. I mean, you can see the little old Mexican ladies behind the counter rolling the dough out and grilling ‘em up!
In the grab-and-go section, you can get two corn dogs for $0.99. And they’re damned good corn dogs, too. Would love to know where they buy ‘em. Love their spicy sausage wraps, too.
Of course, gas, soda and coffee refills, and hot dogs are cheap too. Otherwise, Vanholio wouldn’t recommend.
East Coast Sheetz has the best fresh food of any convenience store, but you pay for it. Prices aren’t outrageous, mind you, just more in line with fast food restaurants. They have the best coffee, too, and free WiFi.
All the convenenience stores Vanholio stopped at in southern Utah – chains and locals – were stocked with the most delicious, fresh cake donuts I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, they were so fucking amazing I’d get 3 or 4 and make a gut-stuffing meal of them, oink, oink! I think they came from local bakeries, but I didn’t catch the names.
I ain’t been every fucking place while living in a van. If there’s a chain I shoulda given the shout-out to, let me know in the comments below.
Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.
Also See...Don't Cook Ramen Noodles, Soak 'Em Cold!
Vanholio’s 21 Alternative Food Sources
Roadside Stopper: Can Something Be Too Big in Texas? (WSJ)