After spending eight weeks driving over 10,000 miles in one summer, and then another 3,000 a few weeks later, let me tell you – we know a thing or two about the best snacks for road trips! Use this guide to help you plan the healthiest, most convenient, and kid-friendly snacks for road trips this summer!
My family and I spent EIGHT WEEKS last summer driving over 10,000 miles, and then another 3,000 a few weeks later, and let me tell you – we know a thing or two about the best snacks for road trips!!
(This doesn’t include the two times we’ve driven across the country, and the 50,000 miles we racked up traveling the West Coast!)
The best snacks for road trips have to meet stringent criteria. Something that’s:
- Light on your stomach and easy to digest, but still fills you up.
- You’ll actually WANT to eat, that tastes good, yet still on the healthy side.
- Easy to eat, doesn’t leave crumbs, and doesn’t require washing hands.
- Doesn’t smell bad in the cooler, lunch bag, or while you’re eating it.
- Doesn’t require many utensils (if any at all) and doesn’t require reheating.
And on top of this, it needs to be something that you can easily throw together… because when you’re already packing up for a road trip, you don’t have much time to worry about snacks in the car!
Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered!
We’ve taken road trips with our kids since they were just 2 and 3 years old, so don’t think that the little ones can’t go along with you. They might require their own snacks, but it’s very doable no matter how young they are!
Also, a side effect of figuring out the best snacks for road trips, is learning the worst snacks for road trips, LOL. I included those at the very bottom of the post, in case you’re curious.
Before You Hit the Road
Eating food in the car requires some extra planning since you won’t be able to easily or quickly pick up messes. Here are some lessons I’ve learned that are worth sharing:
- Bring a Dedicated Trash Bag. This can be a plastic bag from the grocery store, an actual trash bag, or a gallon-sized plastic bag. Have the kids (and you too!) put all the trash in the trash bag so it doesn’t accumulate in the car. Nothing is worse than having a sticky granola bar wrapper melt into the cup holder inside the car door!
- Bring Baby Wipes (or similar). You may not be able to wash your hands while on the road, so having baby wipes on hand is really helpful. This is WAY better than bringing hand sanitizer, especially when you need a bit of scrubbing power to get sticky goo off.
- Try Not to Bring Utensils. Try not to pack foods that require utensils. I’ve found that spoons and forks can easily drop, and no one wants to stop the car to dig under the seats for a spoon over and over again.
- Pack What Works for YOU. Even though my whole family tolerates all of these foods (i.e. we’re not allergic to anything on this list), we each had our own preferences as to which foods settled best in our tummies. You’ll have to figure this out as you go, but it’s okay if each person has their favorites and they stick with it the whole trip.
- Pick 3-4 Ideas to Start With. Because each person will have preferences and variety can become expensive, pick just 3 or 4 ideas to pack in the car. See how they go and if they’re winners, stick with them. Wait until they’re gone until you try something new. This will help keep your budget down too!
- Make Homemade, When Possible. We made several of these ideas at home before we left for our trip, helping us keep costs down and control the ingredients. I highly recommend doing the same if possible.
The Best Snacks for Road Trips
These are what my whole family consider the best snacks for road trips. Everything on this list met all of the criteria above, and they’re all things we’d pack again.
Also, this particular list doesn’t require a cooler, which is a bonus if you’re just in the car for the one day!
- Trail mix (homemade or store-bought)
- Single Serve Fruit Cups (mixed, diced peaches, applesauce)
- Hummus Cups w/carrots, bell peppers, pretzels, crackers (single serve)
- Single Serve Guacamole Cups w/carrots, bell peppers, pretzels, crackers
- Peanut Butter Cups (from hotels) or peanut butter pouches w/apples, carrots, celery
- Pretzels (or homemade)
- Peanut Butter filled Pretzels
- Fruit Leather
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts)
- Meat Sticks
- Crackers + Pepperoni (or Canadian Bacon, quartered)
- Snack Crackers (i.e. goldfish, Cheez-its, homemade or store-bought)
- Granola Bars without Chocolate (homemade or store-bought)
- Energy Bites without Chocolate (homemade or store-bought)
- Protein Bars without Chocolate
- Larabars (homemade or store-bought)
- Grilled Cheese / Quesadillas
- Sandwiches (ham & cheese, PBJ)
- Simple Leftovers (grilled chicken, steamed vegetables, potatoes)
- Sliced Apples
- Hearty Cookies
Healthy Snacks for Road Trips (if you have a cooler)
I put these in a separate list because not everyone has a small cooler for road trips (we don’t!). These are great ideas too, but it just shows that you don’t HAVE to have a cooler in order to eat well on the road!
- Cheese sticks
- Cheese Slices (with crackers and pepperoni)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Yogurt Cups
(Not) Good Road Trip Snacks
I’ve read tons of articles about good road trip snacks, and I’ve personally tested hundreds of them. In my experience, not all “good road trip snacks” are actually that good!
Some of them require a cooler, some are smelly, some are hard to eat, and many are just not fun.
Here’s my list of foods that are NOT good road trip snacks. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences!
- Anything with mayo
- All fish and seafood
- Foods that require a spoon or fork (spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, etc.)