We share our favorite road trip snacks (and which types of snacks you should definitely avoid!)
We lived on the road for over two years, and we also run a camp cooking blog. So we feel uniquely qualified to share our thoughts on what foods make great road trip snacks. We have given this topic A LOT of thought.
We’ve learned a lot over the thousands of miles we’ve travelled and countless hangry meltdowns we’ve had, and we’re excited to share our best road trip snack recommendations with you.
We feel snacks are an essential part of any long distance road trip. And we never leave home without them!
Sometimes you need a little energy boost, sometimes you need to stabilize your blood sugar, and sometimes you need to munch on something just to stay alert and keep blood flowing to your brain.
Snacks can also dramatically improve the overall road trip experience. They turn an otherwise monotonous process into a moveable feast.
Below we share our thoughts on what snacks you should bring on your next road trip (and which snacks you shouldn’t).
What snacks should you bring on a road trip?
This will largely depend on your personal taste, but the general rule is that road trip food should be easy to access and easy to consume. They should keep your body fueled, your blood sugar stable, and your mind alert. Keep reading for some of our favorite suggestions!
While there are lots of foods that are great for long road trips, there are few food categories you will absolutely want to avoid.
Here are some of the worst foods for a long road trip:
- Food that creates lots of crumbs or waste (e.x. crackers, pistachios)
- Powdery foods (e.x. Cheetos)
- Greasy or oily foods (e.x. olives)
- Foods with strong smells (e.x. some soft cheeses, bananas)
- Foods that can spoil on a dime (e.x. avocados)
- Food in excessive packaging
Eating While Driving
Snacking while driving can be done safely if you have taken the time to properly set up your cab area beforehand. Food should be within easy reach and not require you to take your eyes off the road.
When driving with another person, delegate as much as possible so you can stay focused on the road. For example, asking them to grab a snack, unwrap it (if necessary), and hand it to you.
While eating on the road is possible, whenever possible, we highly recommend stopping at roadside rest stops. Taking a 10-15 minute break to eat, go to the bathroom, stretch, and readjust your setup is sooo worth it.
We know the urge to press on is strong, but taking a few small breaks can improve everyone’s mood.
The Best Road Trip Snacks
These are some of our favorite road-tripping snacks. We’ve personally consumed every item listed below at some point or another and can attest to their roadworthiness and superior snackability.
Greenbelly Meal Bars
Taking a page from hikers & backpackers, these Greenbelly meal bars contain 650 calories per serving, which is as much as a complete meal. While we don’t recommend skipping meals on the road, if you need to, one of these could be a good option.
Fig Newtons are by far our preferred road trip cookies. They’re soft, don’t generate crumbs, and are absolutely delicious.
Nut Butter Packets
Yum Butter nut butter packets make them super easy to eat while on the road. Sometimes we eat it straight from the packet, but it would also be good with sliced apples or bread if you’re taking a break at a rest stop. This resealable squeeze packet means you don’t have to dirty a knife or spoon to scoop it out of a jar.
Roasted Rye Chips
Rye chips are our go-to gas station pick up. They are fairly robust and don’t generate crumbs like other chips. When compared to the other deep-fried options in the chip aisle, this is on the healthy-ish-er* side of the spectrum.
*Healthy, only by comparison to other very unhealthy options.
The Good Crisp Co.
While these potato chips violate our no-crumb rule, these Good Crisp Co. chips are just too good to leave out. These are basically a healthier version of Pringles and feature the same cylinder, which protects the crips from getting crushed.
Chocolate Covered Espresso beans
These are a great little caffeine and sugar burst all at once. We like to reserve these guys for the end of our trip when we’re likely at our most fatigued.
Yogurt Covered Raisins
These are a real treat and can easily be picked up at a bulk bin in most grocery stores. If you are able to keep these chilled in a cooler, we highly suggest it!
Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels
We love these things. We often pick them up from Trader Joe’s and Quinn’s makes a gluten-free version you can find on on Thrive Market. We find that the bags tend to split down the middle, so we like to repack these into a sealable container or a big ReZip bag. These also make great hiking snacks!
Fresh no-peel fruit
Grapes are great for road trips because they don’t need to be peeled and don’t have cores. Apples and pears are also good options. Oranges, clementines, and tangerines will hold well in a sealed container if you peel and segment them ahead of time.
*Do not throw fruit cores (or anything else for that matter) out the window. Just because something is biodegradable doesn’t mean it will decompose sitting on the shoulder of the freeway. It just attracts wildlife, which leads to more roadkill and more accidents.
Fresh vegetables are one of the healthiest road trip snack options out there. Baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes are all super healthy and easy to eat while driving.
Veggie chips are another snack we often pick up at the bulk bin or from Nuts.com. These are the perfect “bored/hungry” snack and don’t need to be refrigerated.
Healthier than potato chips, less pungent than a fresh banana, plantain chips are slightly sweet, salty, and crunchy—which checks a lot of boxes!
Opt for trail mix with large pieces. You don’t want to deal with a handful of finely chopped nuts and tiny seeds. They’re just going to get all over the car. The bigger the pieces, the better.
We prefer cashews or almonds when driving. They are big enough to easily handle and don’t need to be shucked. Peanuts are just a little too small for us and pistachios and sunflower seeds are the worst.
Hard cheese that doesn’t need refrigeration is a great option. We also LOVE the Trader Joe’s Baked Cheese Bites as well as Parmesan or Cheddar Whisps (the latter are a bit less sturdy though).
Jerky And Meat Bars
Unlike a lot of the carb-heavy options on the list, Jerky and meat bars have some serious sticking power. We are big fans of Epic Provisions, Wild Zora, and other meat products that don’t have a ton of additives (looking at you Slim)
If you or your road trip buddies tend to feel a little queasy on those winding roads, ginger is a natural way to settle your stomach without causing drowsiness like over-the-counter meds can. We like to keep a bag of Gin Gins ginger chews in our snack bin for this reason.
Need help staying alert while driving? In addition to the usual caffeinated remedies, there has been a lot of scientific evidence that suggests that the act of chewing gum can help focus and alertness.
Masticating (the act of chewing) increases blood flow to your head and helps increase cognitive ability and focus. So if you often get drowsy when driving, consider picking up a pack of gum.
Best Road Trip Drinks
This is where having a small soft sided cooler really comes in handy. After a couple of hundred miles, a cold drink can really make a big difference to revive you.
Take it from us, it’s really easy to get dehydrated on long drives. So be sure to drink water along the way. There’s a world of sparkling water out there, but our favorite brand is Spindrift!
A can of iced coffee or even nitro cold brew coffee can be a great pick-me-up to carry you through that final stretch.
Another lightly carbonated, non-alcoholic option, kombucha is another one of our favorite drinks on the road.
Best Road Trip Snacks For Kids
If you’re road tripping with kids, having a strong snack game is an absolute must! Some enticing snacks may not prevent a meltdown entirely, but it can buy you some time.
However, unlike snack time at home, the kids will be strapped in the backseat. So whatever snacks you choose, they’ll have to be able to deal with themselves.
Cut slices of bell pepper, carrot, celery, or snap peas are a great snack option for kids since they are healthy and don’t have the potential to become a mess or leave crumbs everywhere.
Likewise, fruit that has been pre-sliced makes a great snack for kids. Choose fruit that isn’t overly juicy or soft. Apples, pre-peeled oranges, and grapes (for older kids) are good places to start.
To keep apples from browning, try soaking them in a water & lemon juice bath for a few minutes before packing them.
Kids love these and they’re a great way to add some protein into their diet. Ideally, these should be chilled in a cooler or insulated lunch bag.
Annie’s Bunny Grahams:
Annie’s Bunny Grahams are usually a crowd favorite! Since they are bite-sized graham crackers, there won’t as many crumbs left behind as there would with full-sized graham crackers.
Mini Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Bite-sized mini peanut butter sandwiches are perfect for little hands. They are a nice balance of carbs, protein, and fats to help satiate your backseat companions.
Organic Fruit Tape
Ok, fruit rolls might not make it to the top of every parent’s “Healthy Road Trip Snacks” list, but they are just so nostalgic for us!
This version is organic and made from real fruit and not much else, so it’s gotta be healthier than whatever we were eating in the 90’s, right?
These can also be used (leveraged?) as a reward or perhaps as a last resort if things start to really go sideways.
Helpful Snacking Items
You don’t need much, but there are a few pieces of gear that we find to be very useful on long haul trips.
Soft-Sided Cooler: Generally speaking, you should select road trip snacks that don’t need refrigeration. But having a way to keep some items cold can be very helpful—particularly fresh fruits & veggies.
Mini Trash Can / Large Sealable Container: We like to keep a mini trash can or sealable container nearby to help us keep the front cab area clean and tidy. Don’t let this be you. A clean, uncluttered car can really improve your overall driving experience.
Insulated cup with lid: An insulated cup with a lid can keep your morning coffee hot or your afternoon kombucha cold for hours. It can really extend the enjoyability range of your beverage. It’s also reusable, so your car doesn’t fill up with paper coffee cups.
ReZip Bags: Ditch the single-use baggie, and consider using these reusable zip bags instead. They are great for sliced fruit and veggies, bulk bin items, or pre-portion out serving for kids.
Wet Wipes: Sticky, greasy fingers are the worst. Having some easily accessible wet wipes handy is a great idea.