15 RD-approved healthy travel snacks
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
If you’re planning to hit the highway for your next adventure, here are some healthy road trip snacks to have on hand. Go ahead and stock up! You’ll appreciate the extra energy a healthy travel snack provides during your next long ride. And if your travels don’t involve a car, or you’re sitting out vacation this year, healthy travel snacks are also great for other snacking occasions!
If you’re like me, you want to stay at least somewhat healthy on the road. Granted, healthy road trip snacks won’t cover all of your needs--you may still need to stop at a fast food chain for meals. (I’ve got you covered on healthier fast food meals with this article I wrote for NBC News.) But for taming hunger between pit stops, staying attentive, and keeping your energy levels up, a healthy travel snack is the way to go.
Also, by planning ahead and stashing some healthy snacks in the car, you’ll be more likely to avoid the selection of candy and chips at the rest stop. These types of heavily processed or excessively sweetened snacks are filled with empty carbs that sap your energy, leaving you sleepy and less focused--not to mention hungry--soon after you eat. Travel can be unpredictable, but your road trip snacks don’t have to be! Here are some tasty and healthy travel snacks to choose from.
What makes a healthy road trip snack
When I’m packing food for a trip, here are some factors I like to consider:
Is it portable, and can you eat it without making a mess?
Is it made mostly with whole food ingredients like nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, fruits, and veggies?
Are there reasonable amounts of added sugar and sodium?
Will it be filling and provide some steady energy?
Things that don’t make the cut are filled with heavily processed grains or other very processed ingredients, excessive sodium and/or added sugar, or are too difficult to eat or keep in a car. (For more snack ideas, discover the healthiest snacks at Target.)
Of course, fruits and vegetables are always winners, and they’re ideal road trip snacks when you’re traveling shorter distances or have a cooler to keep them fresh. These foods supply fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals, so they work hard for you while you’re on the road. For example, travel might disturb your GI system and contribute to constipation, but fiber and water help promote regularity. Plus, fiber-filled fruits and veggies help tame hunger and keep you energized--ideal for any length of trip! They’re even better at busting hunger when paired with another food that contains protein or fat (like nuts).
Healthy Road Trip Snacks to Stock Up On
Quinn Whole Grain Pretzel Twists Most pretzels are filled with refined carbs that promote inflammation, leave you hungry soon after you snack, and produce blood sugar swings, all of which can sap your energy levels and leave you feeling distracted. A serving of these pretzels has nine grams of whole grains from sorghum flour and brown rice flour, so it’ll provide better energy for your road trip. If you have a cooler in the car, feel free to stash some hummus to pair with your pretzels or serve them with a squeeze pack of Justin’s Peanut Butter. You can also use these pretzels in a DIY trail mix. (Meanwhile, cereal makes a great mix-in for trail mixes. Here are the best whole grain cereals.)
Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs Given how much I love peanut butter, I’d qualify this as a snack on its own, but if you’d prefer a vehicle for your PB, try baby carrots, celery sticks, or apple slices for shorter road trips. If you don’t have a cooler or are going on a longer trip, pretzels and PB pair nicely!
Sunsweet Ones I’ve already shared what travel can do to your GI system, so to stay regular throughout your getaway, you might want to stock up on this healthy travel snack. They’re individually wrapped, so they’re perfect for stashing in your car or bag. A serving is a great source of fiber, and prunes contain a type of carbohydrate that helps draw water into your colon, so if you tend toward constipation, they can help! If you like, try the Berry Essence variety, which is infused with berry flavors. It’s very tasty
100% orange juice. When you’re not hydrated properly, it can manifest as fatigue. If you’re tired of H20, you can mix things up with a glass of 100% orange juice. It has no added sugars, and it contains electrolytes, like potassium, so it’s an excellent choice for supporting fluid balance. If you don’t have a cooler, you can pick up a small bottle at your pit stop.
LARABAR in Cashew Cookie When I’m in the mood for something sweet, but I don’t want to deal with an energy crash, I have one of these bars. This variety hits the spot without any added sugar, and it has just two ingredients--dates and cashews. Another selling point for me is the 5 grams of protein, which is almost as much as a boiled egg. If Cashew Cookie doesn’t float your boat, there are numerous other flavors to choose from. (And if you have a sweet tooth, check out these healthy sweet snacks!)
Kirkland Signature Organic Dried Mango If you have a Costco membership, buy a bag of dried mango to snack on during your road trip or any time you want a wholesome nosh. They contain no added sugar, are an excellent source of vitamin C, and they’re easy to pack in a stasher bag or another reusable container. If you pack enough, they’ll nourish you on the return trip, too!
365 Organic Pumpkin Seeds A ¼ cup serving of pumpkin seeds pack 8 grams of protein--more than a boiled egg! They’re also an excellent source of iron and magnesium, key minerals that are lacking in many people’s diets. Being away from home can interfere with your sleep habits, and magnesium is involved in helping you relax and supporting a healthy sleep cycle. You can stash this healthy road trip snack in the car or carry it in your travel bag for any time the urge to snack strikes. If you want to try flavored pumpkin seeds, check out Super Seedz’s assortment of sweet and savory flavors. They’re all within healthy sugar and sodium limits.
Skinny Dipped Almonds I love these lower sugar chocolate-dusted almonds because they have just the right amount of sweetness. A serving has a tame 6 grams of added sugar. And since they have a little chocolate, they’ll have a little caffeine to help keep you alert on the road. If you buy the .46 oz mini bags, you’ll get just 3 grams of sugar but enough chocolatey goodness to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips All forms of produce contribute to your daily fruit and veggie needs, so why not pack some kale chips on your next road trip? This healthy travel snack is super-munchable and offers some protein, fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin K.
Oloves This snack pack of flavor-infused, pitted green olives gets the green light for a healthy road trip snack. Olives contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory fats, and a snack pack makes them easy to take on the road. If you like a good snack plate, you can recreate the experience on your road by enjoying them with some nuts and cheese crips (see below)
Parm Crisps These cheese snacks are a huge hit with my teenage son, and I’m sure your family will be just as into them! A one-ounce serving packs 10 to 13 grams of protein to keep you full on your ride. Since cheese sticks and other cheese snacks are harder to store on long trips, a pack of these is a great alternative.
Bare Chips When it comes to fruits and veggies, all forms provide valuable nutrients. That’s why I give these chips the thumbs up! The on-the-go packs of apple and banana chips are perfect for munching. If you’re on the hungrier side, pair them with nuts, seeds, or your squeeze pack of PB.
Seapoint Farms Lightly Salted Dry Roasted Edamame This healthy travel snack packs 11 grams of plant-based protein and 6 grams of fiber in a 100-calorie serving. That’ll keep you content between meals. Not only are these grab-and-go packs the perfect healthy road trip snack, but they’re also great for stashing in the car or your purse for quick trips around town--just in case you get hungry while out and about!
Bienna Chickpea Snacks You’ll get 8 grams of both fiber and plant-based protein in a single serving snack pack. That’s plenty to fill you up between meal stops. If you’re vegan or vegetarian and have trouble finding a hearty meal at your rest stop, you can always add a pack to your salad. They’ll boost your protein intake and satisfaction.
Spindrift Half Tea Half Lemon Bottled teas and lemonade are both notoriously high in added sugar, but this drink has none. You’ll need something to wash down your healthy road trip snacks so why not have some Spindrift on hand? When you want something other than water, it’s a good option. Plus, it’s made with real brewed black tea so you’ll get a little caffeine to keep your energy levels up.
If you're looking for more healthy and balanced snack ideas, download my FREE recipe booklet with 10 meals and snacks that can be made in 10 minutes or less!
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