I laughed when I read your idea of buying a crock pot from a thrift store on your vacation.
That's a great idea! When we go on vacation we take one of those sandwich makers. I'm not sure they still have them in the US. They open up and have teflon coated compartments. You put bread on each side and then put a "filling" on the bread. The most obvious filling is cheese for grilled cheese. Then you close the top and once it is cooked, you have a grilled cheese sandwich. Fillings are limited only by your imagination. We've done eggs and cheese for breakfast, apple filling for dessert, tuna melt, ham and cheese or even canned beef stew for a kind of pot pie. The crock pot idea is much better since the whole meal is done when you walk in the door. With these sandwich makers, you have to cook one sandwich at a time, and our kids really like that. We take the sandwich maker in our luggage as it is not that bulky.