Road trips are the classic adventure that everyone needs to do at least once in their life, whether you’re traveling solo, with your best buds, or packing in the whole family. What’s the secret to a great road trip? Besides having your maps already downloaded to your phone (travel must #1), it’s to have a collection of the best road trip food at your disposal.
Being prepared with good travel food will ensure you don’t:
1. Kill your travel mates because you’re hangry.
2. Get killed by your travel mates because they’re hangry.
3. Get lured in by every gasoline stop and somehow end up with bright orange Cheetos and Slim Jims.
4. Waste your travel budget dining on Subway and Wendy’s road trip meals.
After road tripping with a toddler for half a year around the US, we’ve figured out the ultimate road trip food list so we can enjoy the journey together feeling nourished and happy. Our list includes road trip food ideas for adults and kids as well as healthy car snacks.
After the road trip food list, we’ve included non-food items you’ll want to bring and some tips on choosing the best road trip cooler.
The Ultimate Road Trip Food List
Healthy snacks for a road trip
We’ll start with healthy snacks for the road. I don’t know about you, but when we go on road trips, we tend to fall back on fast food and junk food. In an effort to have a quasi healthy road trip we make sure to include some healthy options so we can at least feel like we’ve balanced out all our snickers bars and Wendy’s frosty. Here’s our list of the best road trip foods that won’t leave you feeling sluggish at the end of the day. We also added in a few recommendations of some of our favorite brands.
Healthy Snacks For Car Rides
1. Fruit: Bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, apples, oranges
2. Sliced veggies: carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, pickles, radishes
3. Cherry tomatoes
4. Olives (buy the pitted kinds)
6. Deli sandwiches or wraps (already made from home or pre-purchased)
7. A simple charcuterie spread (summer sausage, pepperoni, sliced cheese, dried apricots, olives, crackers, etc.)
9. Yellow corn chips, blue corn chips, kale chips
10. Granola Bars and Energy Bars
11. Dried Fruit
12. Crackers (cheese crackers, saltines, whole wheat crackers, these almond crackers are my favorite!)
14. Nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, macadamia, walnuts, pecans)
15. Trail mix
16. Tuna (Get the kind that doesn’t need to be refrigerated! It can become a snack on crackers, a sandwich, or added to a salad)
17. Coconut chips
18. Dark chocolate
19. Wasabi peas
20. Fruit leather
21. Whole-grain muffins
22. Bread (pretzel rolls, pita bread)
23. Water (Preferably in a water bottle like a Hydroflask that will keep your water cold for hours.)
23. Hard-boiled eggs
24. Small yogurt containers or drinkable yogurts
27. Pasta salad
28. Lentil salad
29. Grocery store salad kits (Can be eaten out of the bag! Just cut the top, pour in the salad dressing, and shake it away. You can also opt to do salads in a jar)
Essential Road Trip Snacks
These road trip snacks might not be the healthiest, but look…you can’t always be perfect!
Road Trip Snack List
32. Beef Jerky
34. Fun candy (Any kind of candy that brings you joy for your road trip. Gummy bears, Reeses pieces, airheads)
35. Ranch dip to go with your healthy veggies
36. Fun drinks (Just make sure the drink is able to be resealed or small enough that you’ll drink it all quickly. My favorite road trip drink is coconut water!)
Road Trip Snacks For Kids And Toddlers
While we don’t put a distinction between road trip food for adults and road trip food for kids, here are some fun ideas you can add in addition to the travel food listed above. We found that allowing for leniency with what we let our kids snack on will mean a more fun time for everyone in the car.
Road Trip Snacks For Toddlers and Kids
38. String Cheese or Babybels
39. Peanut butter pretzels
41. Squeezable applesauce
42. Squeezable nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter)
43. Graham crackers
45. Fruit snacks
46. Fruit roll-ups
47. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
48. Dry cereal
50. Snap pea crisps ( I love the wasabi ones from Harvest Snaps. I can only get them online because my grocery store never has them!)
Essential Non Food Items
Now that you’ve got your travel food and made your road trip food list, let’s talk about nonfood items to have on your road trip packing list. We are both advocates for a minimal waste living so we do advise using reusable items like real utensils, glass containers, and reusable straws rather than single-use items. I know it can feel like a nuisance, but once you get used to doing it, it’s easy to integrate it into your habits. We’ve provided links to different products, so you can check out some good options.
-Trash bags (old shopping bags work well)
plastic containers (While glass may feel like a hazard, I find that most of them are built for endurance and would require some extreme throwing around to actually break. Either way, bringing containers rather than an entire bag of snacks is a great space saver.)
-Bento boxes (another option is to make individual bento boxes with everyone’s preferred snacks put in. It’s essentially a healthier version of a Lunchable. Great option if you’re traveling with kids.)
-Cups if you want to share drinks
-Ice packs for the cooler (We prefer to use reusable ice packs like these, but frozen water bottles or ice cubes in a ziplock back will do the job as well.)
-Reusable grocery bag to carry your non-perishable stuff