Try These Healthy Snacks for Family Road Trips

Planning Tips

Keep your family happy and energized during your next road trip with these tasty and healthy snacks for families with kids of all ages

Taking a road trip with your family is an adventure that everyone in your crew looks forward to. It’s a great way to bond with siblings, create lifelong memories and explore new travel destinations. However, with long hours of driving, cries of “Are we there yet?” and “I’m hungry” are inevitable. Quell the cries with healthy snacks. 

While the easy route is a trip through the drive-through, fast food isn’t good for you or your kids, and let’s face it – those happy meals get expensive! A better alternative is packing the right healthy snacks for your family road trip. It literally can make all the difference in keeping everyone happy and energized. Here are some practical tips on the best road trip snacks for family vacations, taking into consideration kids of different ages, specific snacks for kids with allergies, and healthy alternatives to junk food.

Snacks for Kids of Different Ages

When it comes to road trip snacks, it’s essential to consider your kids’ ages. Younger children may require more frequent snacks, while older kids may prefer more substantial bites.

For younger kids, consider packing small, bite-sized, healthy snacks that are easy to eat and won’t create a mess in the car. Some great options include sliced fruit like apples or bananas, cheese sticks, carrots, celery and granola bars. You can also pack small bags of crackers or pretzels, which are easy to hold and munch on.

For teenagers, consider packing more sizeable options like sandwiches or wraps. These snacks can be filling and keep them satisfied for longer periods. You can also include more variety, like trail mix, popcorn or beef jerky. These healthy snacks are easy to share and can be passed around the car.

Snacks for Kids with Allergies

If you have a child with allergies, packing healthy snacks for a road trip can be challenging. It’s important to read labels carefully and pack food that is safe for them to eat.

If your child has a nut allergy, consider packing sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds as a nutritious alternative. You can also pack hummus with veggies or crackers, or rice cakes with almond butter. If your child has a gluten allergy, consider packing gluten-free crackers or pretzels, fruit snacks or homemade energy bites.

food allergies

Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food

While it’s tempting to pack junk food for a road trip, it’s essential to provide your family with healthy snacks that will keep them energized and focused during long hours of driving. Start by asking your kids to list out on a piece of paper three or four of their top snack choices, healthy and otherwise. Take the unhealthy list and pick one but search healthy alternatives for junk food. Here are some healthy alternatives that your family will love.

  • Fresh fruit: Pack a variety of fruits like apples, bananas, berries or grapes. You can also pack pre-cut fruits in small containers for convenience. Consider watermelon and cucumber for hot summer trips for added hydration. TIP: Freeze berries to not only help keep them fresher longer, but for a refreshing ice-cold snack on a hot road trip.
  • Dried fruit: This is a great alternative to fresh fruit if you don’t have a cooler. Dried fruit, like apricots, apples and banana chips are yummy, mess-free healthy snacks that are great for family road trips.
  • Vegetables: Carrot sticks, celery, cherry tomatoes, broccoli crowns and snap peas are great options. You can also pack hummus or guacamole for dipping.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios and pumpkin seeds are great sources of protein and healthy fats. Just make sure to avoid nuts if your child has an allergy.
  • Jerky: Beef or turkey jerky is a great source of protein and easy to pack for a road trip.
  • Granola bars: Look for granola bars with simple ingredients and low sugar content. These are great for a quick snack or breakfast on the go.
  • Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn is a low-calorie snack that’s easy to munch on during a road trip.
  • Homemade energy bites: These are easy to make and can be customized with your family’s favorite ingredients. Mix oats, nut butter, honey and dried fruit for a delicious and healthy snack.

If you’d like to read more, we also offer The Ultimate Guide To Family Reunion Food Ideas, with even more meal-planning tips. 

Tips for Keeping Healthy Snacks Fresh

Travel coolers filled with ice or ice packs provide a great way to keep healthy snacks fresh. Photo credit: EyeEm/Freepik

Keeping healthy snacks fresh and safe to eat during a road trip is important for everyone’s health and enjoyment. Here are some tips to help keep your snacks fresh and safe:

  1. Use a good cooler: Save the planet and invest in a good cooler to keep snacks cool and fresh during a road trip. Make sure to pack the cooler with plenty of ice packs to keep the temperature inside the cooler low and swap them out periodically.
  2. Pack snacks in resealable bags or containers: This will help keep healthy snacks fresh and prevent them from spoiling. It’s also a good idea to label the bags or containers with the snack name and the date it was packed.
  3. Choose snacks that don’t need refrigeration: If you don’t have access to a cooler or if you’re on a long road trip, consider packing snacks that don’t need refrigeration. Some examples include dried fruit, granola bars, trail mix and jerky.
  4. Keep snacks out of direct sunlight: Direct sunlight can cause healthy snacks to spoil or melt. Keep snacks in a shaded area or in a cooler to protect them from the sun.
  5. Pack perishable snacks last: If you’re packing snacks that need refrigeration, make sure to pack them last so they spend less time at room temperature. This will help keep them fresh and safe to eat.
  6. Avoid packing snacks with strong odors: Foods with strong odors, like hard-boiled eggs, raw onions or tuna, can affect the taste and smell of other snacks. It’s best to avoid packing these types of snacks or pack them separately.
  7. Don’t pack too much: Overpacking snacks can lead to waste and spoilage. Only pack the amount of snacks you think you’ll need for the duration of the road trip. Chances are, wherever you’re traveling there’s a Target or Walmart on the way.

Road Trip Snacking Essentials

Packing the right delicious and healthy snacks for your family’s road trip is essential to keep everyone happy and invigorated. Consider your kids’ age, any allergies, and opt for healthy snack alternatives to junk food. By planning ahead and packing the right snacks, you’ll make your road trip a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone.

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