If you ask almost anyone what the best part of a road trip is, chances are good that after great tunes on the radio, snacks will be one of the first things that they mention. While candy, soda and chips from the gas station stores are fun treats, you want everyone in your car to be feeling good when you arrive at your destination. You want them to have plenty of energy for the planned adventures, so packing healthy snacks for your road trip is a must! And if you’re traveling with kids, you’ll not only want to make sure that you’re packing nutritious snacks, but making it fun. If the kids like what you have to offer, it will help make the miles ahead smooth sailing.
While you can just throw some apples and carrot sticks in a bag and call it a day, it doesn’t take a lot of pre-planning and preparation to pack healthy snacks that will wow even the pickiest of tiny travelers. Just kick your road trip snack plan up a notch. Here are a few of our family favorites.
Fruits and Veggies
- Pre-packaged squeeze pouches of applesauce or other blended fruit are a super easy way to pack your snack bag without needing a cooler or any other prep.
- Dried fruit like apple chips, banana chips, pineapple or mango strips are simple and mess-free.
- Sugar snap peas, celery sticks, and baby carrots are perfect to grab a handful healthy while enjoy a satisfying crunch.
- Clementines come perfectly pre-packaged in nature - and as a bonus they’re also a natural air freshener for your car!
If you need a little something to dip your fruits and veggies in, a small container of hummus, guacamole, or plain yogurt can make every snack more exciting. You can even find some of these pre-packaged in single-serve containers to make prep even easier. Let your kids pick what they want for a dip. By having a say in that decision-making process, they’ll be even more excited when snack time rolls around!
To keep the munchies at bay and your hunger satisfied for the long haul, make sure you’re packing some protein:
- Dried nuts and legumes: Almonds, peanuts, and cashews make for great quick proteins to snack as much or as little as you need.
- Jerky: Beef, turkey, pork or other flavors can all be found with low sodium options that pack a lot of flavor and will satisfy your cravings without stopping for a fast food burger.
- Cheese: String cheese, small individually wrapped snacks, or pre-cut chunks of cheese make for a quick and easy protein fix.
- Nut butters: These can also double as dippers for your fruits and veggies.
You can still satisfy the sweet tooth without loading your kids up on sugar and empty carbs. Here are a few options for those sweet treats:
- Graham crackers (look for organic options made with natural sugars)
- Whole grain cookies and fig bars
- Chocolate covered nuts or dried fruit
- Muffins or single serve baked goods.
If you have time to bake these ahead of your trip you can even involve your kids in helping you make them. Here’s a favorite, easy blueberry muffin recipe from AllRecipes.com that makes a great road trip treat:
1 cup milk
⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup white sugar
½ cup fresh or fresh frozen blueberries (if you use frozen, mix them in without thawing)
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. (If you have it, try using mini-muffin tins with liners - makes them even easier for kids to handle. Plus, less waste if they can’t eat an entire large muffin.)
Step 2: In a large bowl, stir together milk, egg, and oil. Add flour, baking powder, sugar, and blueberries; gently mix the batter with only a few strokes. Spoon batter into cups.
Step 3: Bake for 20 minutes (or about ½ that for the mini versions - just keep an eye out). Serve hot or allow to cool completely before packing for your snack bag.
Mixing it up
Another easy snack to prep ahead of time is one that combines all the major snack food categories: sweet, salty, and packed with protein - trail mix. You can quickly make your own with each family member’s favorite ingredients and pack them into single-serving containers. This video from Vanderbilt Health shows how to pull these together, simply. Again, this is an activity you can do with your kids before the trip to help them anticipate the trip - and enjoy their healthy snack even more.
Packing it for the road
A tote bag or soft-sided cooler will help you keep everything corralled and allow you to find exactly what you are looking for when hunger strikes. You might even put together bento boxes for individual snack packs for each child—that way everyone gets exactly what they want without fighting over the last muffin or carrot sticks. It also makes for easy clean-up when you get to your destination. Bento boxes can be as simple as a divided dish or as fancy as a multi-compartment designer snack box, but there’s really no wrong way to put one together. Don’t forget to pack the essentials for everyone’s use, some paper towels or napkins, hand sanitizer, a few spoons just in case someone needs a utensil and a grocery bag that you can use for trash.
With just a little planning, you and your kids can enjoy these healthy snacks as much - or more - than the oversalted, too sweet options available along the way. Enjoy the trip!
Need to plan more than snacks for the upcoming road trip? Check out our Road Trip Essentials article. And don’t forget a tray to give your backseat passengers an easy surface for those snacks - and other road trip activities.