However, finding healthy snacks in gas stations, convenience stores, and rest stops along your route is often challenging.
Plus, eating irregularly and sitting for hours on end while driving can lead to digestive issues like constipation and bloating, making healthy snacking all the more important.
As such, you should keep an eye out for nutritious snacks to pack with you or purchase along the way. Note that many portable and shelf-stable snack options are calorie-dense, so keep that in mind when traveling and your activity level is likely lower than normal.
Here are 14 healthy snacks that are perfect for road trips.
1. Fresh Fruit and Nut Butter
Fresh fruit is not only highly nutritious but also easily portable.
During road trips, munching on hydrating, high-fiber foods like fruit may keep your bowel movements regular and help prevent constipation caused by inactivity.
Apples, strawberries, and bananas are great paired with high protein nut butters like almond or peanut butter for a filling snack.
Nut butters are even sold in single-serve pouches, which can come in handy when you need a quick bite while driving. Brands like Artisana and Once Again offer unsweetened, organic nut butter squeeze packs.
2. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a go-to snack for road trips — and for good reason. It doesn't require refrigeration, is easy to eat, and provides ample protein, healthy fats, and fiber to fuel you on those extra long road trips.
What's more, you can buy nutritious, low sugar versions at most rest stops and gas stations. Look for a variety with nuts, seeds, and unsweetened dried fruit — and steer clear of those that contain candies, candied nuts, and sugared fruits.
You can also make your own at home.
Start with raw or roasted nuts and seeds, then add your favorite unsweetened dried fruits. Toss in unsweetened dried coconut, cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips, or spices for extra flavor and crunch.
Note that even without added candy, trail mix is high in calories and best meant for — you guessed it — the trail. Keep this in mind if you are sitting for hours on end.
That said, trail mix also works as a meal replacement when other food choices are limited. Pairing trail mix with lower calorie fresh fruits or vegetables is one way to balance its calorie density.
3. Protein and Granola Bars
Protein and granola bars are convenient, and most don't require refrigeration, making them a good choice for road trips.
Yet, many bars are loaded with added sugars and other unhealthy additives, which is why it's important to choose products made from whole, nutritious ingredients like nuts, oats, chia seeds, egg whites, and dried fruit.
4. Energy Bites
Energy bites, also called energy balls, are bite-sized morsels made from healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Though small, they pack a punch of nutrition and calories.
You can easily make them at home and pack them in a cooler to take on the road. Check out this recipe for energy bites that include dates, nuts, cocoa powder, and almond butter.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are delectable on their own and pair well with many other road trip snacks, including dried or fresh fruit.
Both nuts and seeds are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. In fact, eating more of these foods may decrease your risk of heart disease and lower your blood sugar levels.
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds can supply a needed energy boost during your road trip.
6. Fruit and Veggie Chips
Many road trippers turn to highly processed snacks like potato chips to satisfy their cravings. However, these chips are typically high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy additives.
If you long for a salty snack with a bit of crunch, try healthy chips made from dried fruits and vegetables instead. For example, baked apple chips, plantain chips, and kale chips make excellent stand-ins for their highly processed counterparts.
Choose products that don't contain added sugar or preservatives, or make your own fruit and veggie chips at home. Follow this recipe for crunchy kale chips that are ideal for travel.
7. Unsweetened Yogurt
You can expand your snacking options during your road trip if you take a cooler.
Unsweetened yogurt is a great snack food that doubles as a quick breakfast when your choices are limited, but it needs to be kept cool to prevent spoilage, so be sure to fill your cooler with ice or ice packs.
Many flavored yogurts are high in added sugar, which you should limit. It's best to choose unsweetened, plain varieties, then add your own toppings, such as berries, nuts, seeds, chia seeds, and dried coconut.
Unsweetened Greek yogurt is especially beneficial because it's packed with protein, which helps keep you full.
8. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas are highly nutritious, providing protein, fiber, magnesium, folate, and zinc.
While taking a can of chickpeas on the road is doable but a little more cumbersome, dried chickpeas are portable and easy to eat while driving or navigating.
It's easy to make your own using this recipe.
Alternatively, you can purchase dried chickpeas in various flavors at your local health food store, as well as online.
9. Fresh Veggies and Nutritious Dip
If you bring a cooler, fresh vegetables like celery, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers make scrumptious, low calorie road trip snacks.
Eating veggies can not only satisfy your crunch cravings but also reduce your risk of various illnesses, including obesity, certain cancers, and mental decline.
To boost the protein content and flavor of this snack option, pair fresh vegetables with nutrient-dense dips like hummus or Greek yogurt dip.
10. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are another option to power you through long car trips.
Just be sure to keep them in a cooler with ice packs and eat them within 1 week.
11. Drinkable Soups
Although soup may seem like an odd choice for a road trip, shelf-stable, drinkable soups are a healthy and convenient choice when driving. Plus, veggie-based soups can help you meet your nutrient needs when fresh produce is scarce.
Many companies make drinkable soups in portable containers that don't require refrigeration.
Whole avocados are a high fiber, high fat snack that's especially suitable if you're following a low carb diet.
Plus, they're full of nutrients like potassium, folate, and vitamins C and E.
These buttery fruits can be salted and eaten with a spoon, or mashed and served with crackers or veggies during a break from driving. Bring a mix of ripe and unripe avocados to ensure that you always have one that's ready to eat.
13. Cheese and Crackers
Cheese and crackers make a classic snack for anyone looking for a quick bite on the road.
Top your crackers with cheddar, brie, or your cheese of choice for a satisfying, filling treat. You can also add fresh fruit for a hint of sweetness.
14. Dark Chocolate and Almonds
When you're craving something sweet during a long road trip, don't cave into the endless candies, baked goods, and sugary beverages available at rest stops and gas stations.
Instead, pack your car with healthy options like dark chocolate.
This treat is loaded with powerful polyphenol antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory and heart-protective properties. What's more, eating chocolate in moderation may safeguard against conditions like stroke and diabetes.
Add a handful of almonds for a crunchy, fiber- and protein-rich snack.
The Bottom Line
Although eating healthy on the road may seem difficult, planning ahead and bringing nutritious snacks can keep your body fueled and your hunger at bay.
If you take a cooler, fresh veggies, unsweetened yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs are great options. Other foods that don't necessarily need to be kept cool and are easy to store and eat on the road include fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, nut butter, drinkable soups, and protein bars.
Keep these snacks in mind when you're looking for portable, nutritious options for your next adventure.