23 Easy & Affordable Road Trip Snacks for Families


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One of the things I love most is traveling. When my kids were younger we’d take road trip adventures a few times a year. Of course, if you’re going to be in the car all day you need plenty of road trip snacks!

family sitting in back of car with tailgate up and road trip bags in front of them on ground

We’ve driven to Florida beaches, Boston, and New York over the years, as well as Philadelphia and through South Dakota all the way to Seattle. Road trips are a great way to learn about our country, and a frugal way to see friends along the way.

It’s important to us to still eat as healthy as we can even while traveling. Here are some of my family’s favorite road trip snacks and some tips on how to pack them.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks

We’re very lucky to have wonderful friends all across the country. Our friends welcome me and my four kids for weeks at a time when we are taking road trips. It’s crazy expensive to fly with a large family, so we just load up the car and drive.

After taking road trips for a number of years, I’ve found lots of ways to continue to eat a healthy diet, even from the car. Luckily, it’s not impossible to make or buy healthy road trip snacks even when you’re traveling.

Make a Plan for Travel Snacks

Preparing ahead of time is essential if you’re taking long road trips. I like to prepare perishable snacks to eat at the beginning of the trip as well as others that will last longer. I also buy some premade snacks to keep things simple and easy.

Eating on the road is a great option to save time and money on road trips. We research all the best rest stops and gas stations so we have access to good, clean facilities and picnic tables if needed.

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two girls sitting at picnic table eating road trip snack from tinfoil package

Road Trip Snacks to Buy

I like to get all our non-perishable snacks before we leave as I can get them cheaper from the grocery store than buying them at overpriced gas stations. Here are our favorites:

  • Crackers
  • Potato Chips
  • Applesauce Cups
  • Carrots and Celery
  • Olives
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Pickles
  • Dye-free candies

Road Trip Snacks to Make at Home

Some snack options are just better when they are homemade. Try to keep a balance between protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

  • Boiled eggs: I like to peel them at home and then keep in a container on ice
  • Breakfast (healthy) cookies: Breakfast cookies can pack a nutritional punch, but the kids think they are getting a treat. Mix and match with fruits and nuts for ingredients.
  • Protein Balls: These protein bites are so easy to make. I freeze them beforehand so they are a cold treat on a hot summer road trip.
  • Trail Mix: I make individual bags for each kid so they get the trail mix they prefer and no one is stealing all the chocolate out of the main bag. (If you know, you know.)
  • Veggie Wraps: Use wraps with a bit of feta, lettuce, tomato, olives, cucumber, etc. I make these individual for the kids so they each get ingredients they like. We keep them in the cooler and eat on day 1.
  • Eggy Muffins: Make these ahead of time. They freeze well and can easily be reheated in a hotel or gas station microwave.
protein balls on white tray
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Drinks for Road Trips

Our family mostly drinks water to stay hydrated on the open road. We just fill up our water bottles at gas stations. Sometimes, though, we all need a treat.

One of our favorite drinks is frozen Capri Sun pouches. When they start to thaw, it becomes like a slushy but without the dye and added sugars.

Ice tea and coffee (for me) are also good options to have in the car. Because hotel coffee is most often terrible, I like to take along my own. I pack a small container of organic half and half as it is hard to find on road trips. I’ve found it works really well to pack my Bodum and use the hotel coffee pot for heating water. That way I don’t have to deal with filters.

Focus on easy to eat snacks and don’t forget to pack plates, napkins, silverware, and wipes. I also keep trash bags handy as they have many uses on a road trip.

cheese, almonds, carrots, and apples in blue bento box

How to Pack Snacks for Road Trip

Organization is key to road trip snack success. I like to portion everything out in advance if possible in small bags or containers. My kids love having options in a Bento box. Smaller portions means my kids won’t eat an entire bag of something in one sitting and also prevents large spills.

Nonperishables go in a snack bag or a cardboard box. Other items go in a cooler. I put the more delicate items (boiled eggs, soft fruits, etc.) on top so they get eaten first.

I keep a few snacks up in the front of the car between the seats. The rest can go in the back. Now that my kids are older we do more of the snacking when we stop at a rest area or to take a short walk. This also helps limit the mess.

Make sure you have a trash bag in the car for any packaging or food that gets dropped. I also limit snacking on granola bars and crackers in the car because they make so many crumbs.

Keep a tablecloth in the car just in case you have any prolonged stops. Some of those public picnic tables are pretty gross.

I’ve found that road trip snacks end up saving me money because the kids like to graze and snack throughout the day. The snacks end up being breakfast and/or lunch. Then we can spend money on a nice dinner or have a hot meal at the end of the day.

What are your favorite road trip snacks?

More Snack Ideas You’ll Love

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. These are all great ideas. We often will bake a few things a week before a trip and take that along. We will also make sandwiches on the road and make each of the kids a snacking box. That way, everyone has the same thing and it reduces arguments.

  2. Good ideas! Would you tell me more about the Bodum item and how it works? I might have found some xmas ideas and I thank you!

    1. Hi Dee, the bodum is a coffee press. In a nut shell, you put ground coffee in the bottom, then add water to a line on the vessel, wait 5 minutes or so, and then slot push the press down, which takes the code grounds to the bottom. A lot of people use these in Europe and you can get an inexpensive press on Amazon, at IKEA, or Bed Bath and Beyond even. They work really well and are great for traveling. We have a glass version and also a more expensive stainless steel pot as well. I highly recommend them! 🙂

  3. Pre-planning and bringing our own food on the road is the only way we can afford to travel. Our homemade gorp melted on this last trip and I am in love with it after being set in the freezer. Better than a candy bar!

  4. I love this post. It’s something I always struggle with, getting healthy food when we are traveling, it’s made me realise it’s doable

  5. These are all great tips and some our family uses. I will be making sure to pack my husband’s aero-press for our next trip. Great way to save on coffee runs. #client.

  6. Those trail mixes sounds really good. Anything with Dove chocolates in is sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing this idea.

  7. Hey, great share…….

    I got to read this article just at the right time as me and my friends are planning for a road trip next week. You have shared really amazing tips. I am going to keep all the things in my mind and will also share this post with all my friends.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. Keep sharing more….