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Road trips are fantastic adventures to take with friends, family or solo. You’ll definitely need a road trip food list and all the best and easy road trip snacks for a successful trip. Because who wants hangry travel companions? Not to mention all those fast-food stops can really add up cost-wise.
We’ve taken our share of road trips over the years, from cross country adventures to many, many multi-day road trips back and forth between our current home and where our extended family lives. Both as adults, and with kids ranging from months old to teenagers, and everything in between.
With young kids, there is a strategy for finding the best road trip snacks. One’s that aren’t too messy, too crumbly, won’t stain or are low risk for choking.
Our road trip food list includes ideas for kids, adults, healthy car snack ideas, keto & gluten-free snacks. Plus tips for packing and what you’ll need to bring to pack all the snack essentials.
Ultimate Road Trip Food List: Best Road Trip Snacks
There is something about road trips that lends itself to snacking on junk food and grabbing something somewhat edible to go from the gas station.
Vibrant orange Cheetos and a snickers bar are ok on occasion (hey, snickers has peanuts, that’s protein, right?).
While I’m all for a bit of indulgence on the road, let’s balance it out with foods that won’t leave you feeling sluggish or weird at the end of the day.
Here are some of the best road trips snacks around.
Healthy Road Trip Snacks
Let’s focus first on healthy road trip snacks. Many non-refrigerated prepared snacks are full of sugar and things that are hard to pronounce or spell.
While I do like the convenience, as there are soooo many details when planning a road trip (like this one from Boston to Acadia). Just make sure to check the ingredient list first.
We’ve broken up the healthy road trip snacks into those requiring a cooler and those that are non-perishable, to make planning a bit easier.
Healthy Road Trip Snacks Non-Refrigerated
Sometimes you need a boost of energy and nutrients on the road. Having a few non perishable snacks for travel on hand makes things easier.
From dried fruit to granola bars, here are some fun ideas for non-refrigerated road trip food to pack:
- Fruit; apples, blueberries, grapes, cherries
- Fruit Leather
- Dried fruit – dates, apricots, figs, mango
- Granola Bars
- Protein & Healthy Snack Bars
- Trail Mix / Homemade Trail Mix
- Roasted Legumes
- Cheese Crisps
- Homemade muffins
- Mary’s Gone Crackers
- Beef Jerky
- Tuna – the little cans (come in many flavours) with pull tab
- Bread – pizza buns, PB&J, pretzel buns etc.
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Healthy Road Trip Snacks That Require A Cooler
Many of these car snacks can be replenished along the way at a local grocery store. If you know there will be long distances between towns, make sure to stock up on travel food, and ice for the cooler before you leave for the day.
- Pre-Cut veggies – carrots, peppers, cucumbers, radishes, celery
- Cut up fruit for a sweet treat – pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew melons
- Energy Balls / Protein Balls
- Crackers and cheese
- Charcuterie plate – get all “fancy” with crackers, cheese, olives, salami, pepperoni, dried fruit
- Sliced meat -roast chicken, turkey, beef
- Yogurt / Yogurt drinks
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Broccoli Cheese Bites
- Egg Bites – ham, cheese, peppers, spinach
- Egg Muffins – olives, feta and sundried tomato
- Sausage rolls
- Stuffed Grape leaves (or buy canned food version for ease)
- Chicken wings
- Hummus Packs & pita bread/pita chips ( my daughter loves dipping pretzels in hummus)
Essential Road Trip Snacks
A road trip is not a road trip without your favourite road trip snacks. I mean hey, you gotta live a little, and you are on vacation, right. Splurge a little. These are good additions to add on occasion.
I fondly remember our summer road trip each year where we were given a 5 pack of Hubba Bubba gum to chew as we pleased throughout our holiday. As the flavour would be gone in 5 minutes, we soon had chipmunk cheeks full of gum.
Whether you are road tripping through the States to Bryce Canyon National Park, or taking a weekend trip up Vancouver Island, Canada to the sea side town of Parksville, BC, you’ll want to pack some yummy snacks.
Essential road trip snacks non refrigerated
These non perishable road trip food ideas are a great option for a little bit of a treat when you’re craving a little bit of sweet or salty goodness.
Sweet non-refrigerated snacks for your sweet tooth:
- Dark Chocolate
- Cookies – Homemade chocolate chip is the best
- Candy – I like to add some gummy bears and smarties to the trail mix to get a little indulgence and some protein/fat at the same time.
- Licorice, small packs of oreos
- Rice Krispie Squares
- Black Bean Brownies
A salty non-refrigerated snack or two:
- Potato Chips
- Corn Chips & Salsa
- Plantain Chips
- Corn Nuts
- Salted, roasted sunflower seeds
Road Trip Snacks For Kids
In addition to the other essential family road trip snacks mentioned previously, here are some additional classic road trip snacks kids will love. These aren’t just for kids. I like checking out the lions and camels in animal crackers with the best of em’.
Packing their favorite high-protein snack with some healthy fats, will tide them over til their next meal.
Here are some easy kid-friendly travel snacks for your next long road trip:
- Cheese strings
- Babybel Cheese
- Fruit Pouches or Smoothie Fruit Pouches (no refrigeration needed)
- Nut butter pouches
- Lara Bars
- Moon Cheese
- Seaweed Snacks
- Green Pea Crisps (Black Pepper is our favourite)
- Apple Crisps
- Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks
- Yogurt – small containers or drinks
- Veggies & dip – Baby carrots, snap peas, cucumbers
- Ants on a log – Peanut butter & raisins on celery
- Fresh Fruit
- Goldfish crackers
- Animal Crackers
- Kids Trail mix – combine pretzels, goldfish, smarties, cereal, nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamia, brazil, hazelnuts etc.)
- Bagels & cream cheese or nut butter
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Staying hydrated is an integral part of any road trip. I know the tendency is to try not to drink too much, so there are fewer bathroom breaks. Gas Station and pull-out restrooms are NOT my favourites either.
Drinking water is essential and should be the number one choice, but sometimes you want something a little more exciting. Here are some other healthy road trip drink options:
- Coconut water
- No sugar added fruit juices
- Flavoured Sparkling water (or fizzy water as we call it in our house)
Road Trip Food List: Road Trip Snacks for Special Dietary Needs
If you are road tripping with special dietary requirements or restrictions, packing your own food will be the best option. Taking a rest stop and buying travel food at convenience stores may or not pan out.
Best to be prepared with your favorite road trip snacks on hand. Just in case.
Keto Road Trip Snacks
If you are strict keto, then packing some low-carb snacks will help prevent the temptation to stray, “just this once.” Not to mention these are all yummy, so the non-keto peeps in your road trip party will enjoy them as well.
- Beef Jerky
- Beef sticks
- String Cheese
- Cheese Crisps
- Moon Cheese
- Seaweed Sheets
- Giant Pickles
- Pork Rinds
- Pecans, Macadamia nuts, Brazil Nuts
- Olive snack packs
- Berries – raspberries, blueberries
- Coconut Chips
- Kale Chips
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Cherry tomatoes, Cucumbers
- Celery sticks & Peanut Butter or cream cheese
- Fat Bombs or Keto Nut Butter with MCT Oil packaged
- Tuna Fish
Gluten-Free Road Trip Snacks
The majority of items listed above can be gluten-free, as long as you watch the ingredients list and check the labels of pre-packaged food. Here are a few of our favourite gluten-free snacks/brands:
- Seaweed Snacks – Sea Snaxs – salty cruncy goodness!
- Cheese Crisps – Whisps and astronaut cheese Moon Cheese
- Gluten-Free Bars – favs include these mini Gluten-Free Bars and their cousin the Gluten-Free Bites
- Nut Butter packets – Yumbutter (twist-off tops)
- Chips – Late July (often available at Costco too)
- Jerky – Country Archer Jerky or their beef sticks
- Beef Sticks – Paleo Valley Beef sticks
- Crunchy, Salty, Protein Snacks – Hippeas Puffed Chickpeas
PRO TIP: We pack everything in small stackable Rubbermaid containers.
Non-Food Items To Add To Your Road Trip Packing List
Now that we’ve got the most crucial thing sorted, SNACKS, let’s move on to the non-food items you’ll need to add to your road trip packing list.
Reusable Items; Cutlery, Water bottles, Containers and more
We like to bring reusable items on our trips as much as possible to cut down on waste. It’s also quite easy once you get the hang of it and make bringing these along part of your routine.
Here are \ reusable items you’ll feel good about using and bringing on your next road trip:
- Cutlery – Knives, Forks, Spoons,
- Dishes – Cups, Plates, Bowls
- Coffee Mugs, Thermos
- Straws of many colors
- Plastic, glass or stainless steel containers
- Water Bottles
- Cloth Fruit Bags
- Bento Boxes
- Chopping Board
- Garbage bags – reuse grocery bags
Pro Tip: A few empty plastic, stainless steel or glass containers are super handy to have in the car just in case. Empty containers can do double duty as dishes, store leftover food, and hold sandwiches or snack packs for the next day. They also can become emergency crayon/toy holders in a pinch.
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Storage & Cleaning Supplies
- Reusable Ice Packs
- Hand sanitizer
- Paper Towels & Wet Wipes (not just for kids, awesome for road trips)
- Washing items: Sponge, tub, biodegradable dish soap
PRO TIP – We pack everything non-perishable into small stackable Rubbermaid containers to keep things organized.
We like to make sure both adults and the kids have their own travel backpack for the road trip.
A good travel backpack can be used for many things. These include hiking, storing road trip activities and entertainment, using as a pillow in a pinch, plus provides easy access to a couple of snacks, and a handy change of clothes.
Essential for when you have a fully packed vehicle. Staying organized is easier.
How to Pack For a Road Trip: Tips for Keeping Snacks Organized
Snacking Tote – Yes, those Pinterest road trip hacks will come in handy. Grab a small plastic Dollar Store Caddy / Open Tote that you can throw your snacks into that don’t need to be cooled. As well it can hold entertainment items (crayons, books, small toys, magazines etc.). Reorganize and restock at the end of the day, for your next day’s adventures.
Water Bottles – Bring a stainless steel water bottle for each person. If you are travelling in the summer or in hot weather, freeze the bottle the night before, take it out in the morning, and it will melt as the day goes on.
Handing out food – For young kids, bring a spill proof snack cup (it will fit in the cup holders), and fill with snacks.
Snack Bags – For older kids/adults, make each person a snack bag before your trip; they can keep with them. Avoids the constant asking for snacks, and they can monitor their own snacking. Of course, this will depend on the age of your kids.
Clean-Up Kit – Kids, adults, toddlers all on occasion make messes. Have a clean-up kit handy just in case; wipes, paper towel, extra water, change of clothes.
Garbage Bag for the car – Have a designated garbage bag for the car, to keep the garbage contained. Empty or replace at rest stops. Reuse plastic grocery bags.
Road Trip Coolers
A cooler is the essential item to add to your road trip packing list. It will provide you more flexibility with the types of snacks and food you can bring.
You may even want to cook up some make ahead vacation dinner recipes and keep them fresh too.
We’ve outlined some things to think about and a few great road trip cooler options available on Amazon, to help you out.
Here are some things to consider before buying a cooler:
- How long is your trip?
- How much space do you have in your vehicle? Where do you want to put the cooler?
- How much food will you need? Can you stop at grocery stores along the way to replenish supplies quickly (ie. can you get away with just a day or two worth of food)
Best Overall Cooler ( Size and Holds the Cold) – Yeti Roadi 24 Cooler
This Yeti Roadi 24 Cooler is narrow, so it easily fits behind the seat, is well insulated, which holds the cold, and is lighter than previous versions. It can also be transformed into a stool if you buy the cushion. Plus it comes in cool colours.
Best Family Cooler & Long Road Trips – ORCA ORCP026 Cooler
This Orca Cooler is a top pick for size and flexibility. It can hold a lot of food and ice, which can be kept frozen for up to a week or more. Plus it has cool whale tail latches.
Best Soft Sided Cooler – TOURIT Leak-Proof Soft-Sided Cooler Backpack
This Tourit Leak-Proof soft-sided backpack is an excellent option for shorter road trips or if you are planning a picnic or day at the beach. This leak-proof high-density insulated backpack can keep food cold for up to 3 days. It also has side pockets for extra storage.
Tips to Prepare For Your Road Trip
Check your road trip food list to see if there is anything you can do ahead of time, to make food prep and snacking easier while on the road. We recommend doing the following ahead of time:
- Make a Road Packing List, and check it off as you pack
- Wash and cut veggies and fruit
- Prepare sandwiches, meat slices, cheese slices etc.
- Prepare snack bags or snack tote – for easy grabbing
- Prepare your Clean up kit
- Pack non-perishable foods
- Pack your perishable foods in the cooler, right before you leave.
PRO TIP: Pack your car the night before you leave, to make sure everything fits. Make sure your cooler and essential road trip snacks are easily accessible.
What foods are easy to pack?
Foods that are easy to pack for road trips include single serving foods such as applesauce or fruit pouches, granola bars, trail mix, string cheese hummous and tuna. Other easy foods to bring require a bit of preparation like sandwiches, whole fruit (apples, oranges and grapes), or baby carrots.
What Snacks are good for a trip?
Snacks that are good for trips are high in protein and contain some good fats, as well as one’s that are full of nutrients like fruits and vegetables. Our top picks for travel snacks include grapes, homemade trail mix, bagels with creamcheese or peanut butter, popcorn, energy balls, beef jerky, and cheese and multugrain crackers.
What can I eat to keep me awake when driving?
If you are trying to stay awake while driving, focus on eating crunchy foods like apples, carrots, celery and grapes, combined with protein like nuts, deli meats, nut butters or beef jerky. Make sure you are well hydrated (carbonated water is fun), and avoid eating too many sweet snacks as dehydration & sugar swings can also cause tiredness.
Chocolate or a little bit of caffeinated coffee or tea can also help you stay awake.
Road Trip Food List: 75+ Easy Road Trip Snacks
With over 50 delicious road trip snack options, you will find something for everyone in your party. Plus some tips to make packing and travelling easier.
Now all you need is your next road trip destination. Here are some family favourites:
- Zion National Park in Utah.
- What not to miss at Bryce Canyon in a day
- Big Sur California Road Trip itinerary; Best places to visit, eat & stay
- Boston to Acadia National Park
What are your favourite road trip snacks and favourite hacks for keeping food and snacks organized? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on social media, we’d love to hear from you.
Related Family travel tips and resources:
- Camping gift ideas outdoorsy kids will love
- Road Trip Packing List, all the essentials you’ll actually need & use
- 150 Road Trip questions to entertain your travel companions
- Best Anti-Theft Travel Bags
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