After so many years of traveling and living on the road, we have figured out some really good snacks to keep you going. For many, there’s no better way to spend hours watching the roadside rush by than with some delicious treats.
Now we travel mostly by RV and always have a fridge with us, but today we’re going to be taking a look at our favorite snacks for a trip by car. So what are the best snack choices for your next journey? We hope you’re hungry because we rounded up our ten favorites.
Why Snacks Are Necessary for a Road Trip
For some, snacks may not feel like a must-have. But for so many of us, they are. On a practical level, you and your fellow road trippers need some food during long periods spent in the car. Having snacks makes sure no one goes hungry and prevents the need for constant stops at restaurants or fast food chains. This can help keep you moving down the road.
Snacks can also break up the boredom of a long trip. Eating something tasty gives your body and brain something to do to help stave off the potential monotony. It can also help keep the driver awake and alert during long stretches. And at the end of the day, who doesn’t like a treat?
What’s The Best Way To Pack Snacks?
As mentioned above, we prefer to travel by RV; however, we spend plenty of time in the car as well. We always recommend bringing a cooler along. A cooler widens your options in what foods you can safely bring, and everything can go in it, even if it doesn’t need to stay cool.
Coolers, however, can ruin your food if the ice melts and things get soggy. This is why electric coolers are our preferred choice. No ice is required, and they work just like a fridge. We have traveled with a Dometic DC cooler for years and found it really enhances the road trip experience. You can read our article all about our favorite coolers, including the powered option on our cooler article.
Why Planning Ahead Is Key For Road Trip Snacks
Many people leave their road trip snack purchasing to the last minute and find themselves filling their car with overpriced, unhealthy food from a gas station or mini market. While there’s no problem with indulging in these convenient options occasionally, you can eat healthier and save a ton of money with some planning. We have a few favorite junk food snacks that you can get at a gas station, but we’re not going to be focusing on those.
Buying items at a supermarket or, even better, in bulk at a big-box store can help significantly cut costs compared to last-minute roadside purchases. It also allows you to create healthy snacks you may not find at most gas stations, like fruit, veggies, and other fresh items.
Finally, planning ahead means always having a snack that works for you. This is especially important for people with dietary restrictions.
Pro Tip: If you’re traveling in the winter, make sure you have these Top 13 Winter Road Trip Essentials packed in your vehicle.
The 10 Best Road Trip Snacks For 2023
So what should you stock up on before hitting the road? These 10 foods occupy the pantheon of road trip snacks, offering a delicious addition to any journey.
1. Trail Mix
Why It’s Great: Trail mix has been fueling people on the go for generations, whether on the trail or the interstate. This road trip snack is an excellent choice because it’s highly customizable, allowing it to range from healthy to decadent.
Most trail mix starts with a base of nuts, including almonds, peanuts, cashews, and others. Then dried fruit like raisins, cherries, cranberries, or even pineapple and mango get mixed in. You may also have other ingredients ranging from coconut to chocolate or peanut butter chips. You can purchase commercially mixed bags or make your own for extra personalization.
Refuel Rating: 9/10 — It’s one of the old standbys of the road trip snack world for a good reason. Trail mix provides a fortifying combination of protein, sugars, starch, and other crucial components to keep you both full and energized for the miles ahead.
Price: Varies depending on the package size, from $2 to $3 for small personal bags to $10 to $20 or more for large shareable bags of high-end mixes.
2. Fruit and Nut Butter
Why It’s Great: In the world of nut butter spreads, you don’t only have the old standby of peanut butter. Almonds and cashews make tasty alternatives. Additionally, you can get delicious fruit butter from apples, pumpkins, peaches, and more.
Available commercially or to make yourself, they offer a delightful, relatively healthful spread for snacking on crackers, fruit, or other dippable or spreadable companions.
Refuel Rating: 7/10 — This tasty road trip snack comes in various flavors and has versatile uses, but it can be a bit messier and sometimes more expensive than many other options.
Price: $2 to $4 for homemade, $4 to $10 plus for store-bought.
Pro Tip: Before you grab a pineapple for your road trip snack, make sure you know The Upside-Down Pineapple’s Not-So-Secret Meaning.
Why It’s Great: Jerky solves the age-old problem of how travelers can bring the protein power of meat with them on their journey without spoiling. Jerky comes in many different flavors, from traditional to teriyaki.
And you can get some from all types of meat beyond beef. In addition, it’ll essentially last forever with proper moisture control, making it an excellent choice to stash for current and future journeys.
Refuel Rating: 8/10 — An excellent source of protein when on the go, but some may need to be wary of its sodium content.
Price: $5 to $10 per bag, depending on brand and volume.
Once you’ve got the snacks packed, make sure you have some fun road trip games ready to pass the time!
4. Tuna and Crackers
Why It’s Great: Tuna offers an excellent combination of flavor, protein content, and portability. Whether in cans or pre-flavored pouches, you can easily stash tuna and open it when you need a road trip snack. And it’s more substantial but still less filling than a meal.
Refuel Rating: 7/10 — Delicious and relatively healthy, but not everyone’s favorite smell or flavor, especially when cooped up in a car for long periods.
Price: $2 to $3 per serving, depending on the brand of tuna and crackers.
5. Dried Fruit
Why It’s Great: Fruit offers many benefits, like vitamins, fiber, and great flavor. But carrying large amounts of perishable fruit with you on your trip can be impractical. Dried fruit makes a delicious alternative. Try dehydrating grapes, apricots, apples, cranberries, pineapple, kiwi, and any other fruit to concentrate their flavor and preserve them.
Even those who may not like the fruit may enjoy the incredible taste of these all-natural snacks. As with many options on this list, you can purchase commercially dried fruit or dehydrate your own at home.
Refuel Rating: 8/10 — flavorful and packed with fruit energy, but it can be a bit pricier when purchasing at a store.
Price: $3 to $12 or more, depending on the type of fruit and size of the package.
Why They’re Great: Almonds are among the most common snacking nuts. You can get them in every flavor, from plain or salted to barbecue, wasabi, cajun, and many more. Almonds offer a satisfying crunch while also providing protein and healthy fats. And when roasted, they can last a long time in the car, ready to provide you with the road trip snack you need.
Refuel Rating: 8/10 — Tasty, healthy, and long-lasting. But like dried fruit, certain almonds may not be the most budget-friendly.
Price: $2 to $3 for a small personal bag, $3 to $5 for a small tin, and $6 to $10 for larger bags or containers.
Did you know? There are musical roads that actually play songs when you drive on them. Add them to your road trip bucket list today!
7. Granola Bars
Why They’re Great: If you’ve ever wished for a more portable version of trail mix, try a granola bar with many of the same beneficial grains, nuts, and dried fruits. This easy road trip snack comes individually packaged in various flavors and ensures freshness no matter how long your trip lasts.
Refuel Rating: 9/10 — Healthy and individually packaged to allow ultimate portability and preservability.
Price: $3 to $8, depending on the brand.
8. Veggies and Hummus
Why It’s Great: Salty road trip snacks and sweets are all well and good, but some of us just need a healthier option to power through the miles. Veggies and hummus offer a healthy, balanced snack thanks to the protein of the chickpea hummus and the nutrients and fiber of veggies. Many typically use carrots or celery. These all last relatively long, even without refrigeration, making them a versatile, fresh snack.
Refuel Rating: 9/10 — One of the more healthful, versatile, and balanced snacks for those looking to avoid salty and sweet foods.
Price: $4 to $10 per serving, depending on the type of vegetables and hummus.
9. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Why They’re Great: Hard-boiled eggs, another delicious fresh option, pack a ton of protein to keep you full and even come in their own “wrappers.” They also include various vitamins and nutrients.
Additionally, you can also prepare them easily the night before. Simply boil them, peel the shell, and store them in the fridge. You can bring them in a cooler bag to keep them fresh on your trip.
Refuel Rating: 7/10 — Though tasty and protein-packed, not everyone loves the smell or having to deshell them. Ensure your carmates agree with your snack choices before indulging. And ensure to keep them cool. This makes them a little more complicated road trip snacks, but they can make a great breakfast for early morning drives.
Price: $0.30 to $0.60 per egg, depending on whether you boil themselves or buy premade eggs.
10. Veggie Chips
Why They’re Great: Many of us love the satisfying crunch of a bag of chips but may not be as thrilled with the high amount of calories, oil, and salt. Veggie chips replace the relatively unhealthy potato with chips with healthy, nutrient-rich veggies. You’ll get the same salty, crunchy bite without the unhealthy parts.
Refuel Rating: 8/10 — Chips of any variety are typically not the ideal healthy snack, but veggie-based ones offer a much better alternative for those who want that chip experience to pass the time.
Price: $3 to $6 per bag.
Pro Tip: Make sure you know these 5 Old Road Trip Rules That Still Apply Today before you head out on the highway.
Fuel You And Your Family With These Road Trip Snacks
Road trips can be a fun way to travel with family and friends. But the long hours can lead to “hangry” traveling companions if you’re not careful. Try to prepare some healthy and fresh options and keep them in a cooler bag to stay fresh.
Also, avoid sticking snacks in the car in the sun. You may just come back to melted granola bars or some mushy grapes. And don’t forget the drinks. Water and Gatorade can make great additions to keep you hydrated and fueled.
So stock up on these road trip snacks (along with any favorites of your own) to ensure you’ll never go hungry while on the go again.
What is your go to road trip snack? Tell us in the comments!
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