Summer vacations for us mean several road trips in a fairly short period of time. While some are longer than others, I’ve found it always pays to pack at least a few snacks and games for the trip to save both money and time. If we stopped every time one of our five kids wanted something to eat, I’m pretty certain we’d never make it to our destination!
So instead, with just a little planning, I can make sure that we have lots of healthy, affordable snacking options that will appeal to everyone. We pack the cooler full of bottled water and a variety of the suggestions below, allowing the entire family to settle in for the ride knowing that we have plenty of healthy road trip snacks right at hand.
Fresh fruit is always a great option for an on-the-go snack. For road trips, choose less-messy berries like blueberries and strawberries. Grapes, sliced apples, and peeled oranges are all great options, as well, and we’ll often toss in a bunch of bananas for extra variety.
Dried fruits are typically more expensive than their fresh counterparts, so we pack them in snack bags and dole them out more sparingly. Less expensive options are raisins and dried cranberries, but I happen to love to munch on dried mango, cherries and apricots with almonds. Tip: check out the Great Value line of dried fruits at Walmart for significant savings over the national brands!
Fresh veggies aren’t my kids’ favorite snack, but packing a thick-ish dip helps make them more appealing. Baby carrots and snap peas with individual hummus servings or celery sticks with individual peanut butter servings have made the cut. Individual serving sizes are almost always more expensive than their full size counterparts, but these dips are an exception for the convenience of not having a ton of containers that need washed when we reach our destination
String cheese makes an excellent travel snack, but for a more budget-friendly alternative, consider purchasing cheese in blocks and cutting it into cubes.
Sealed sandwiches, like these homemade Uncrustables, are perfect for a more substantial snack. I’m always surprised by how many of these my kids can go through in a trip, so make more than you think you’ll need!
A handful of nuts is a great source of protein, so I always pack a bag of almonds. We steer clear of the extra sodium by choosing unsalted, roasted almonds. Roasting them adds plenty of flavor, so you won’t even miss the salt! I always choose the store brand almonds for additional savings, and if I can’t find them already roasted, I just pop them in the oven to toast while I’m packing up other snacks.
Granola or Energy Bars
Granola bars or energy bars, like the Clif Kid Z Bars, travel well. If you’re going for granola, chewy bars are less messy than their crunchy counterparts. If you want to try your hand at making your own, I recommend either these No Bake Peanut Butter Bars or these crunchy Homemade Granola Bars!
Not just for toddlers! Cereal was among my kids’ first finger foods, but to this day I’ll still find them wandering the house, munching on a box of dry cereal, so why not portion it out as a travel snack? One of our favorites is Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Nut O’s.
DIY Prepackaged Snacks
Prepackaged crackers and such are certainly convenient, but you’ll pay a premium for that convenience. I prefer to purchase full size boxes of my kids’ favorite graham and cheesy crackers, and then I spend a few minutes portioning them out into snack size Ziploc bags. We do the same with our favorite fruit and nut combinations. You still get all of the convenience at a much lower price!
More Road Trip Essentials
In addition to our healthy road trip snacks and bottled water, there are several other road trip essentials that I always keep on hand. I make sure we have a roll of paper towels, a package of baby wipes, and several empty plastic grocery bags on hand for cleaning up unforeseen messes and disposing of trash. And toilet paper! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve stopped at a rest stop and found the bathrooms out of TP.
Also, Mandi has a great easy tutorial on rolling up plastic grocery bags for easy storage, and I keep several of these in a sandwich-size Ziploc bag in our glove compartments at all times.
What other healthy road trip snacks do you like to pack?