Nothing incites vacation excitement more than two words: road trip! Whether you’re darting away for a quick weekend or planning a week-long cross-country trek, there are a few important things to consider – what to see along the way, where to sleep at the end of the day and what road trip snacks to pack. You don’t want to find yourself on a seemingly endless stretch of highway with nothing but stale chips to alleviate your hanger.
It’s easy to fall into the drive-thru rut, but with just a little planning, the right snacks will have you feeling your best when you arrive at your destination.
The Best Road Trip Snacks Are Filling, Healthy and Portable
Gas stations and rest stops provide a plethora of treats that would make anyone feel like a kid in a candy store. The truth is, they basically are candy stores. Chips, candy bars, sugary sodas and energy drinks may be tempting after hours in the car, but they are not the best fuel in the long run to ensure that you remain focused on the road. When choosing your road trip snacks, consider the foods that will give you sustained energy (fruit, protein bars) and avoid those that will lead to the inevitable crash in a few hours (sugar and caffeine).
If you’re a pro at putting together a charcuterie board for a party, use those skills to build a portable one for the road. Sliced meats, cheese and smoked seafoods are great road trip snacks because they are high in protein and will help keep you fuller, longer. Adding in some olives, nuts and whole grain crackers will provide healthy fats and a little crunch, and leave you feeling satisfied. Make sure to have a cooler with plenty of ice to keep everything fresh.
Limit the Salt
It’s so tempting to grab a bag of chips or succumb to the lure of fast food french fries, but eating salt-laden snacks will leave you feeling sluggish, bloated and a little greasy around the edges. If you crave crunch, opt for something like baked pita chips, air popped popcorn or banana chips. Paired with hummus or peanut butter, you’ll have a tasty and filling snack that will leave you feeling fuller faster and less likely to mindlessly plow through a whole bag.
Eat the Rainbow
Cut up veggies such as carrots, celery, peppers and cucumbers make for the best road trip snacks. Not only are they healthy, but they also store extremely well in the cooler. Think vegetables are boring? Pack along a yogurt dip like tzatziki or salad dressing to give them a little more oomph.
If you’re looking for a bit of sweet to keep your mind on the road, reach for some fruit. Options like bananas, apples and oranges are great snacks for the road because they don’t require refrigeration, and they are a little sturdier to withstand the bumps and bruises and shuffling that accompany any car ride. Berries, cherries and grapes, while requiring a bit of chilling, are also good choices since they require no prep or peeling, are easy to eat and are perfect for the littlest passengers aboard.
Go for the Good Stuff
If you just can’t live without a little bit of something sweet or salty, don’t fret! Trail mix is a great road trip snack. The combination of nuts, dried fruit and a little bit of chocolate, will give you the sweet and salty combo you crave, with added protein and fat for sustainable energy. Be sure to opt for dark chocolate, which has proven health benefits. However, be careful with portion sizes when eating trail mix – it can be easy to get carried away.
At the end of the day, water is always the best option to keep you hydrated, which is especially important if you’re sitting for long hours. Many times, if you’re looking for some mindless munching, you might just be thirsty! Want bubbles in your beverage? Seltzer water is an excellent sugar and caffeine free alternative.
Packaged and Portable
Don’t have the room or inclination to pack a cooler? That’s no problem! There are plenty of good-for-you, pre-packaged options that are satisfying enough to keep you away from the candy aisle. Luna and Bobo snack bars, beef, turkey or mushroom jerky or Justin’s single serving nut butters are all healthy options that are easy to grab and go.
Fast Food Friendly
Not all fast food is created equal, and sometimes a quick serve stop is necessary when a snack attack strikes. Stay away from heavier fried foods that will promptly induce a food coma, and instead opt for fresh salads or sandwiches, available at many fast food outlets along your route.
Road trip snacks often get a bad rap, but there are plenty of healthy, filling, portable options to fuel your hunger and keep you from running on empty. Take at look at these healthiest fast food options based on calories.
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What are some of your favorite road trip snacks? Share them with us in the comments.