Making your road trip food list? Let’s face it. Most people do some serious snacking while on the road to minimize stops and keep boredom at bay.
But before reaching for a bag of potato chips, opt for these delicious healthy snacks while traveling that will sustain your focus, energy, and satisfy your appetite first. You’ll find the 20 best snacks to pack for a road trip, below.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated in September 2023 to keep the information up to date.
CONTENTS – In this article, you will discover what food to pack for road trip so you can easily stay nourished. Discover 20 delicious snacks for your next road trip, including:
- What Snacks to Pack for a Road Trip?
- Safety Considerations About Eating While Driving
- Top 20 Healthy Road Trip Snacks for a Great Travel Experience
- Storing Food Items Properly in the Car
- Final Thoughts on Your Road Trip Food List
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Healthy Snacks for a Road Trip
- Next Steps
Best Snacks to Pack for a Road Trip – Food List
Taking an epic road trip is a lot of fun. They are the journey where no rules apply. You can take pit stops whenever you want, take detours if you like, and munch on anything along the way.
But sometimes, continuous munching might hinder your journey — especially if you’ve filled up on high-sugar, high-salt, or junky snacks. In that case, you might just arrive at your destination feeling a bit queasy or bloated.
Ugh. That’s the way to ruin a perfectly good trip!
So, some planning is in order.
In fact, I’d argue that your road trip food list is as important as your groovy playlist. If you choose the right road trip snacks, you’ll make the best of your journey and arrive ready to explore new places.
Plus, you’ll likely save money by bringing your own food without the extra cost of buying vacation snacks on the road.
Safety Considerations About Eating While Driving
A quick word about road trip safety.
You’ve probably heard safety warnings about the dangers of texting while driving. But what about eating while driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), eating while driving increases your risk of a near-miss or car crash by as much as 39%. That includes drinking from an open container.
It’s really another dangerous form of distracted driving, which accounts for 80% of all accidents on the road.
So, if at all possible, pull into a rest stop and take a quick break from driving while you eat. Stretch your legs, enjoy a healthy snack, and then you can be safely on your way again.
Now, what’s there to eat?
Top 20 Healthy Snacks for Traveling Makes A Great Travel Experience
Here’s a list of all the healthy snacks and travel foods to add to your list of foods to take on the next road trip. These options are enriched with nutrients and will keep you full for a longer time — not to mention, they’re delicious.
Popcorn is one of those snacks that never goes wrong. It makes a great travel food!
Corn is high in complex carbs and fiber that helps to keep your body energized and doesn’t bloat even if you eat a hefty amount.
Make sure you’re not buying microwave popcorn that contains chemicals, though.
Instead, get some from a natural foods store that only has healthy ingredients, like corn, salt, and oil. Sea Salt Popcorn is a good option for your road trip, especially when you’re craving salty snacks!
You can also get great popcorn from street vendors, as you’ll see in Strictly Street, a dedicated series of Travelxp.
Finally, you can make your own popcorn at home. Use olive oil or butter and a pinch of salt to maximize the flavor.
Popcorn always makes a great snack and it will keep for a long time, when properly sealed. Store your homemade popcorn for the road in single-serving zip-lock bags or in an air-tight food storage container to keep it fresh and easily accessible for the whole ride.
2. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Did you make an impromptu decision to visit the most popular travel destination in your city but worried about what snacks to pack? Well, there are plenty of options but one of the most underrated snacks are hard-boiled eggs.
Hard-boiled eggs are full of protein, and that’s exactly what you’ll need to keep your energy boosted throughout the journey.
The easiest way to make perfect hard-boiled egg for your trip is:
- Put eggs in a medium sauce pan.
- Cover them with cold water.
- Bring the water to a full boil.
- After 10 minutes from boiling, they will be done.
- Plunge them in cold water to stop any cooking and cool them down.
Since eggs come in their own handy protective shell, once they are cool, they make a good travel food. You can just toss them in an insulated lunch bag to keep them cool for the ride. (This stylish but functional lunch bag has a place to hold wet-wipes and a drink, too.)
Then, peel, salt, and eat.
You don’t even have to worry about leaving the shells behind outdoors since they are biodegradable.
The only thing is that hard-boiled eggs can be a little…stinky. That’s all the more reason why you’ll want to stop and eat them outdoors rather than make the inside of the car smell bad.
See our recommendation on odor-free storage at the end of this article.
If you’re someone who’s on a full-fledged diet, then pistachios are the best option for you.
You can maintain your daily calorie intake as these nuts contain only 4 calories each. That is considerably lower compared to other nuts – and they are oh-so satisfying!
As these are plant-based protein and contain unsaturated fats and fiber, pistachio nuts are an absolutely great choice.
You can find pistachio nuts with the shell on or already shelled for you, salted or unsalted. It used to be that pistachio nuts were artificially dyed red but fortunately, you’ll most often find them without the dye now.
If you opt for pistachio nuts with shells, don’t forget to bring a car trash cup like this one or something else to catch all the shells. Like the egg shells, they are biodegradable but a bit messier to leave behind. Whether you take the empty shells with you or not is up to you. If you don’t, be sure to find a discreet place to dump them.
Hummus, which is packed with protein from chickpeas, is the perfect pick-me-up or lunch on the go.
Mini-hummus cups are super-convenient, too. You can create mini sandwiches with high-fiber crackers or dip pretzels. These single-serve dips are available in roasted red pepper, edamame hummus, and original flavors.
Hummus is high in fiber, a great source of protein, and low in carbs, making it a must-try and fun addition to the road trip snacks.
If you’re not crazy about hummus, you can also try these single serving peanut butter cups to go.
5. Protein Bars
There’s a plethora of granola bars and protein bars available at the markets that are nothing but sugar and loaded with strange ingredients and preservatives you’ve never heard of.
So, choose your protein bars carefully when you make your road trip food list.
Aim for a protein bar made of natural ingredients that will provide your body with necessary nutrients–without the sugar crash.
The good news is, protein bars are small and pre-packaged, so they’ll fit your handbag and car seats very easily. They are one of the best road trip snacks because they are convenient, store well, and are easy to eat while driving long distances.
Grab a box at the grocery store before your trip and you’ll have a healthy road trip food within easy reach.
6. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is one of the strongest sources of antioxidants in the world, made from the cacao seed.
Dark chocolate is high in nutrients that are beneficial to your health (of course, not the one loaded with sugar). It’s been shown in studies that it improves health and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Plus, it’s a tasty treat, making it a great food to bring on a road trip.
You can even find chocolate bars with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and nut butter mixed in.
Did you know? Belgium is the number one producer of dark chocolates. If you’re tripping through Belgium, grab some of those.
It’s featured on shows like ‘Relishing Classic Belgian Delights’, which talks about the best cuisines of Belgium. The show airs on Travelxp TV or you can watch it on the Travelxp app.
7. Fresh Fruit
Fruit is one of those go-to snacks that are readily available everywhere. They make a good choice because they are natural sweeteners, full of beneficial nutrients, and they keep you full for longer. Most fruits make good travel foods!
Choose the one you love – cherries, grapes, mangoes, guavas, kiwis, apples, bananas. Take your pick! They are sweet treats when you’re on a long trip.
Additionally, you can also choose a dip for an extra flavor. Greek yogurt makes the best fruit dips and is great for your gut health. Just make sure to keep it cool on the road.
8. Beef Jerky
What is jerky, anyway?
Jerky is trimmed, lean meat that has been cut into strips and dried to keep it from spoiling. They are a full of protein, a good chew, and taste delicious.
Also, they’re very easy to carry without creating a mess in your bag or vehicle.
But beware of the ones in the gas station and roadside stalls, which are full of chemicals. Instead, buy only from a natural food shop for a healthier beef jerky option.
9. Baked Chickpeas
Chickpeas have wonderful nutritional value. They are full of carbs, proteins, and a small amount of fat.
So, firstly, it’s healthy and secondly, it’s very easy to make.
- Drain and dry fresh or canned chickpeas.
- Toss with olive oil.
- Season with salt and other spices of your choice.
- Bake at 450 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.
You will find that this baked chickpeas snack can be as addictive as potato chips, but much better for you!
Store them in an airtight food storage container that travels well, like this one, and they’re read to go!
10. Ham and Cream Cheese
Pinwheels made of ham and cheese are a convenient, nourishing snack to add to your road trip food list.
The ham is a good source of protein, and the cream cheese is a good source of fat. When you combine the two, you’ll be able to stay full longer and avoid cravings. Plus, without bread as served in a sandwich, you won’t be eating a bunch of empty carbs.
Ham and c heese pinwheels are actually fun to make (and eat!), too.
- Spread a slice of ham with cream cheese and roll it up.
- Place the roll at the edge of another piece of ham spread with cream cheese, and roll again.
- Repeat a third time and the roll should be about 2-3” thick.
- Now slice the roll into 1” pieces (or “pinwheels”) and you’ll have a series of bite-sized treats.
You can optionally add in some fresh vegetables, like thinly sliced cucumber, shaved carrots, baby spinach, as well as pickles, chives, or basil for additional flavor.
Wheels of ham and cream cheese are also perfect because they can be made ahead of time. Make-ahead meals like this make great road trip snack ideas because they will curb your appetite and help keep you from being tempted by fast food and junk food on drive.
You’ll want to keep these cool for your ride. This large lightweight collapsible cooler is great because you can fold it up to save space when you’re done using it.
11. String Cheese
Generally mozzarella, but sometimes made with cheddar cheese, individually wrapped string cheese is a handy snack for a road trip. Plus the best part is it’s fun to pull apart!
Eating a stick or two of string cheese on your adventure will give you energy. This high-protein, low-fat food will give you the energy you need to stay the course. Being individually wrapped, they travel and store well, too.
You can also look to other convenient cheeses for snacks on the road, like the wax-wrapped Babybell rounds or single-serving cheese blocks. Eat them alone or paired with crackers, fruit, nuts, and dried meat for a charcuterie spread on the go!
12. Trail Mix
Who doesn’t love trail mix? Mixing together a variety of snackable morsels is an essential sustenance for campers.
It’s a great idea for road trips, too!
Even better, you can customize the list of food items you incorporate into the blend.
Simply combine some of the following in an air-tight resealable bag:
- Chocolate bits
- Dried cranberries
- Golden raisins
- Sunflower seeds
You can get really creative here to come up with your favorite mix of flavors.
You can also make a batch of the popular home-made “Chex Mix” for the ride. This is a less healthy alternative, as it’s baked with Worcestershire sauce and lots of butter and salt. But, arguably, delicious!
13. Cold Pizza
If you’re looking for convenient meal ideas on the road, look no further than a slice of cold pizza.
While eating loads of dough-y pizza is probably not the best meal for long drive, it’s convenient and satisfying. Plus, the cooked sauce tomatoes contain Lycopene, which can help lower your blood pressure and bring down high cholesterol.
Whether you decide to make a batch of your own homemade pizza or order from your favorite pizzeria the night before your road trip, save some for later. You can wrap up the individual slices and keep them in the cooler so you can enjoy a tasty slice of pizza pie on the road.
(And if you’re put off by the idea of eating pizza cold, most rest stops will have a microwave you can use to reheat it.)
14. Breakfast Foods
You may not be thinking of road trip breakfast ideas, but as they say, it’s the most important meal of the day.
If you happen to be staying in a hotel room overnight that offers free breakfast, by all means, dig in. If they have a buffet, an easy way to enhance your diet later in the day is to grab a few pieces of fruit or other breakfast offerings to go.
But you can also pack your own breakfast snacks for your road trip.
Here are some easy, nutritious ideas for having breakfast on the road:
- Single-serving cereal bowls with shelf-stable almond milk
- Wheat bagels with peanut butter and raisins
- Low sugar bran muffins
- Home-made banana bread with cream cheese
- Fruity cereal bars
- Fresh fruit or mixed fruit cups
- Instant oatmeal cups
- Granola and yogurt
With a good cooler, you can keep the ingredients that need refrigeration cool enough. And you’ll likely find a microwave at the rest stop if you need it.
15. Energy Balls
No-bake energy balls are delicious, bitesized snacks that are perfect for keeping up your energy level on a long drive. They’re easy to make, too.
Most energy ball recipes call for a nut butter (like peanut butter or almond butter) that binds the ingredients and provides healthy fats. Into the mix goes things like:
- Rolled oats
- Sunflower seeds
- Flax seeds
- Chopped dates
- Dried cranberries
- Chocolate bits
- Shredded coconut
- Sesame seeds
- Your favorite mix-in
You can add a sweetener, like honey or maple syrup, and a little vanilla for extra flavor. If you’re looking for something that feels more indulgent, add a bit of cocoa powder to the mix.
Once everything is thoroughly mixed together, simply roll them into balls and refrigerate or freeze them in a storage bag. Then, they’re ready to go for the trip!
16. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is dense with nutrition, providing more than three times the fiber and nutrients as fresh fruit. This makes them a sweet addition to your road trip food list.
You can easily bring small boxes of raisins to snack on. But also consider other kinds of dried fruit you might enjoy on the road.
Here is the best travel food if you want to bring dried fruit:
- Dried apricots
- Dried cherries
- Dried cranberries
- Dried figs
- Unsweetened dried apple chips
Better yet, these tasty fiber-rich snacks don’t need to be refrigerated, so you can keep them handy.
17. “Healthier” Chips
There’s something about a road trip that makes you reach for the convenient feedbag of salty chips. And that’s okay.
But if you’re trying to stick with healthy foods to create the best road trip food list, you’ve got some better options.
Here are a few:
- Sweet potato chips are full of fibre, antioxidants and potassium
- Parmesan crisps are low carb and packs some protein
- Banana chips (dehydrated–not fried)–and made without extra sugar) are a good source of fiber
You’ll still get the salty crunching you crave, but without the empty calories.
18. Filled Crackers
Packing a stack of filled crackers may just be the best way to satisfy your hunger cravings on the road. Skip the pre-packaged flourescent orange cheese crackers and make your own using healthier options.
You could choose a nutritionally superior cracker filled with:
- Peanut butter (with jelly and/or banana slices)
- Almond butter, honey, and sliced pear
- Cream cheese and chives
- Cheddar cheese and sliced apple
- Herbed cheese and sun-dried tomatoes
- Ricotta and pesto
- Ham and fig jam (or spicy mustard)
Each filled cracker can truly be a gourmet bite to savor!
The best leftovers make easy meals the next day. But they’re often overlooked for road trip lunch ideas.
So, whether it’s your own meals’ leftovers or you have a lot of food leftover after dining out, take it with you!
You can pack it in an air-tight food container in your cooler bag and get ready to enjoy it a second time. These portions can be a convenient, nutritious and comforting break from snacks. Plus, you can feel good knowing you’re not wasting food.
Don’t forget: If you’d rather not eat it cold, look to the rest stop microwave.
20. Road Trip Beverages
As important as planning the ultimate road trip food list is bringing along the right beverages.
Of course, that should always pack water so you stay hydrated. You can keep a stainless steel tumbler in the front and refill it from a cool jug in the trunk or chill prefilled mason jars. You can make it more flavorful by adding with lemon, fruit, or cucumber slices.
Or, freeze several water bottles and keep them in the cooler. That way, they do double duty as a cold refreshment and will help keep perishables cold.
You can pack single-serving fruit and vegetable juices, sports drinks, and other cold beverages to stay hydrated as well.
Depending on how long your road trip is, you might also pack a trusty thermos of hot water to make tea. It can be just as refreshing (and less of a diuretic) than coffee when you want something soothing to drink during the ride.
Food Storage Considerations While Traveling
Make sure to keep your food snacks stored right on a long road trip. Packing food for a road trip is a lot easier when you have the right equipment.
That might mean packing a cooler with ice packs for anything that’s perishable or needs to stay cool. (This YETI Road Coolor is a great option.)
Also, store foods and beverages in a way that won’t spill and provides you with easy access.
Another good idea is to keep any smelly foods from permeating the indoor car space. Hard boiled eggs and peanut-butter crackers are convenient and high-protein snacks. Yet, you don’t want to stink up the car.
Instead, try these SmellyProof bags. They keep odors at bay and are also reusable. SmellyProof bags come in a variety of sizes so you can fit different snacks in each. Plus, they have no BPAs or other toxic stuff, so they are food-safe.
With food odors contained in a handy plastic bag, your road trip will be more pleasant.
They come in handy for non-food items, too!
Also, pack garbage bags so you can easily dispose of food waste.
Final Thoughts on Your Road Trip Food List
It turns out that eating well while on the road doesn’t have to be tedious. In reality, the healthier your snacks are, the more enjoyable your trip will be.
When you feed your body fresh food and the nutrients it craves, it will provide you with the natural energy and satisfaction you need to make the most of your vacation.
With a little preparation ahead of time and some self-control when stopping at gas stations along the way, you’ll be on your way to a safe road trip that’ll be a blast.
The road trip meals you prepare ahead can be part of the fun, especially when you plan the right snacks.
Not only is packing the best road trip foods a great way to keep yourself and your travel partner satiated, but most of these road trip food ideas are great for little kids you may have with you. (The last thing you want is a hangry car crew.)
Now that you know what snacks to bring on a road trip, try pre-booking everything. That way you’ll save a lot of time. You’ll find various online travel booking sites, like Travelxp.com that offer amazing travel deals.
For more tips about preparing for your long journey, click here to plan the best outfit for a road trip.
Author Bio – Submitted by Travelxp, one of the fastest-growing travel platforms for experiential and frequent travelers. Travelxp provides travelers with a chance to watch incredible travel videos along with access to exclusive discounts on flights, hotels, and exotic holiday packages. It is part of the Travelxp group which operates Travelxp TV, the world’s leading travel channel, broadcasting in 40+ countries with a viewership of over 500 million.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) | Road Trip Packing List
Here are some common questions about planning what foods to bring on your road trip.
What food can I pack for road trip?
You can bring an assortment of convenient and nutritious food for traveling so you stay energized for the drive. Opt for fresh and dried fruits, nuts, trail mix, prepared snacks, filled crackers and light sandwiches. Most of these don’t require refrigeration or will stay fresh in a cooler. Energy bars and energy balls also make for delicious, easy snacking.
How do you pack perishables for a road trip?
To pack perishables for a road trip, use an assortment of air-tight bags and containers inside an insulated back or cooler with ice packs. First, it’s important to know what food travels well. Frozen juice boxes and frozen water bottles can also help keep your perishables cool, while providing a refreshing cold drink when you need a beverage.
What sandwiches don’t need to be refrigerated?
Choose from several sandwiches that perfect for road trips because they don’t need refrigeration. For instance, peanut butter and jelly, or sandwiches made of different nut butters, like almond or cashew, will stay fresh. For variety, adding jelly, jam preserves, banana slices, or Nutella spread. Bean-based spreads also keep without refrigeration. Try hummus with sliced cucumbers, sprouts, and other fresh vegetables in a wrap for a delicious sandwich option.
What food is easy to eat while driving?
Smaller, hand-held items are the easiest foods to eat while driving. That could be a snack bar, filled crackers, fresh fruit, or a non-messy sandwich. Just be sure to use caution if you’re eating while driving to avoid being distracted. If possible, it’s better to eat at a rest stop.
What should I drink on a road trip?
Water is a great beverage for a road trip, but it doesn’t have to be plain. You could choose a carbinated or flavored water, or add lemon or cucumber slices to your water for a more refreshing alternative. Sports drinks are also a good choice to keep your electrolytes balancesd. While coffee is the go-to beverage for most long-haul drivers, caffeine can dehydrate you. So, you’ll want to be prepared to make a few extra pit stops.
Now that you know what to pack for the best food and tasty treats as easy road trip meals, you’re ready for your meal planning.
But first, read these articles, where you’ll find more of the best tips to plan your road trip!
- Planning a Road Trip: A Beginner’s Guide
- 10 Surprising Tips on How to Save Money on a Road Trip
- How To Master Road Safety? 12 Road Trip Safety And Must Do Vehicle Maintenance Tips
- 7 Awesome Road Trip Activities for Kids: How To Keep Kids Screen-Free On Road Trips?
- How To Plan Your Epic Coast To Coast Road Trip
- Dog Road Trip Essentials: 8 Great Tips for Traveling a Long Way With A Dog
- Road Trip Checklist for Car: 7 Easy Steps to Prepare for A Long Trip
- 41 Good Hiking Snacks & Hiking Lunch Ideas for Your Next Day Hike
This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.
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