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14 Healthy Road Trip Snacks, According to Dietitians

May 15, 2024

Road trip season is almost here — but with all the fun can come some not-so-healthy food choices. Boredom, lack of options, and an abundance of fast food can make sticking to our healthy eating habits a challenge. Pair that with plenty of time sitting in a car, and it’s easy to feel bloated and tired before the vacation even starts. That’s why healthy road trip snacks are so important. 

With a little planning, healthy road trip snacks can be just as easy as grabbing candy and chips, but they’ll actually leave you feeling good and energized for your trip. 

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You asked: What food is good for a road trip?

Packing healthy road trip snacks is all about including nutrients that keep your belly full and digestion moving.

It’s easy to find fat, sugar, and salt at fast food joints and gas stations. And though enjoying some of these foods can be a part of your fun road trip experience, overall, focusing on more nutrient-dense options will help you feel your best. 

To balance the occasional gas station items, pack road trip snacks with these key nutrients:

  • Protein: to keep you full between rest stops, and support stable energy and mood.
  • Fiber: for regular digestion and balanced blood sugars
  • Color: fruits and vegetables offer important micronutrients, fiber, and fluid. 
  • Convenience: it’s not a nutrient, but it is critical. Packing items that require minimal prep and that stay fresh without refrigeration makes for less stress and a happier vacation

Here are 14 dietitian-approved road trip snacks. 

1. Medjool dates

Medjool dates are the perfect healthy road trip snack because they’re satisfyingly sweet but packed with fiber, too. Two medjool dates contain more than 3 grams of dietary fiber and some important micronutrients, like potassium and magnesium.  

“Medjool dates are considered a fresh fruit and are also shelf stable, making them an ideal way to pump up your fruit intake while on the go,” says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN. Plus, you can buy them in larger quantities for longer trips. 

Make this snack even more filling and balanced by pairing your dates with peanut butter or a handful of nuts.

2. Homemade energy balls

Homemade energy balls take a little bit more effort upfront, but the payoff is worth it. 

These portable snacks often contain a blend of oats, dried fruit, and nuts and/or nut butter, making them inherently well balanced with fiber, protein, and healthy fats. 

Making energy balls yourself is preferable to purchasing them, because you can customize the recipe to suit your tastes and health goals. If you want something lower in sugar or higher in protein, it’s easy to swap and add ingredients that work for you.

Related: Try our recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Peanut Butter Energy Balls.

3. Trail mix

Trail mix is another dietitian favorite because it’s easy to prepare and nutritionally balanced.

“Trail mix is a great road trip option since it’s compact, shelf-stable, and portable,” says Alyssa Pacheco, RD. It gives you a combo of fiber, protein, and healthy fats to keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep you feeling full.

Not all trail mix is created equal, so look for blends where nuts and seeds make up the majority of ingredients. Add-ins like dried fruit and chocolate are tasty, but too much of them means lots of added sugars and a not-so-balanced snack.

It’s easy to make your own trail mix before heading out the door — just combine whatever nuts and seeds you have in the panty, and toss in a bit of dried or freeze-dried fruit

4. Dried edamame

If you like a savory, crunchy snack, dried edamame is a great option for road trips and every day.

“Dried edamame is a great shelf-stable, high protein snack to take with you on a road trip,” says registered dietitian Jamie Nadeau. “Many snacks that don’t require refrigeration tend to be low in protein, so it’s a great option to keep you satisfied.” Nadeau suggests snacking on dried edamame alone or adding it into your favorite trail mix. 

Edamame contains protein and fiber, and it’s also low in fat and calories. It’s a super filling snack that can also keep you regular and satiated, so it’s worth adding to your pre-trip shopping list. 

Related: Healthy Travel Tips to Nourish Your Body and Soul

5. Protein bars

Protein bars are the ultimate on-the-go snack choice because they’re convenient, tasty, and usually quite high in protein. They’re easy to pack, and if you don’t end up eating them on your travels, you can toss them in your gym bag for another time.

But not all protein bars are health-promoting. Look for a bar that contains more protein than it does added sugars. Bonus points if it has fiber, too. 

If your bar of choice is low in fiber, have a small piece of fruit with it. 

6. Roasted chickpeas

If you tend to crave things like potato chips when you’re on the road, roasted chickpeas are a good alternative. 

“They’re full of fiber and protein to keep you full, while satisfying any munching or flavor cravings,” says Amy Brownstein, MS, RDN. “Eating enough fiber on road trips can be tricky, so keeping these roasted chickpeas on hand for snacking can help with meeting fiber needs.”

You don’t need to roast your own chickpeas to get the benefits of this tasty snack. Many brands make tasty, seasoned varieties that you can find in the snack aisle of most grocery stores and even some gas stations. Just make sure you have water on hand, because they can be high in salt and make you thirsty.

7. Baby carrots

You can’t forget about vegetables when packing for road trips – and easy, portable options like baby carrots are key. 

“They’re crunchy, portable and a great low-calorie, high-fiber snack food for road trips,” says Amy Beney MS, RD, CDCES

Carrots deliver a satisfying crunch, and pairing them with single-serve dips like hummus or guacamole not only makes them more fun, but also increases their satisfaction factor. Plus, a dip can help you better absorb some of carrots’ fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamin A

8. Pepitas 

Another underrated road trip snack with impressive nutritional benefits are shelled pumpkin seeds known as pepitas. 

One ounce of pepitas contains an impressive 8 grams of protein and nearly 2 grams of fiber. They’re also loaded with beneficial nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants, so you know they’re a nourishing snack worth packing.

If you’re worried about feeling parched on long road trips, look for raw pepitas without added salt. Or pair roasted and salted pepitas with fruits and vegetables for some extra hydration.

9. Tuna packs

Lean protein is one of the hardest nutrients to find when you’re traveling, which is why packing easy options like tuna pouches can be so helpful. 

“Tuna packets are a great road trip snack to get in protein,” says Sarah Alsing, MS, RD

Alsing suggests finding flavored packets if you’re worried about taste. She also recommends pairing tuna with crackers and vegetables to add more fiber and carbohydrates to this protein-forward snack. 

Related: 10 Surprisingly Tasty High-Protein Snacks from the Grocery Store

10. Snap peas

Sugar snap peas are a great travel-friendly vegetable because they’re no-prep, pre-washed, and surprisingly delicious.

A 3-ounce serving of snap peas offers 2 grams of both fiber and protein, and plenty of micronutrients like vitamin C and vitamin A. It also has only 40 calories, making snap peas the perfect option if you want something to munch on without extra calories. 

Pair lightly sweet and crunchy snap peas with a meat stick or mixed nuts to make them more filling and satiating. 

11. Premade popcorn 

Pack premade, lightly salted popcorn for a tasty snack you can munch by the handful. Popcorn is a nutritious choice because it’s a high-fiber whole grain. It’s also perfect for people who like to mindlessly munch, because a nearly 4-cup serving of premade popcorn is only 150 calories.

Toss your popcorn with mixed nuts and a few dark chocolate chips for a healthy sweet-and-salty combination.

Related: We Tasted 26 Bags of Ready-to-Eat Popcorn — Here Are Our Favorites

12. Nut butter packs

“Individual packets of nut butter make a fantastic road trip snack,” says Erica Baty, MS, RDN.

“They’re convenient, high in satiating fat, and pack a few grams of protein as well,” she says. “I love to spread a packet on bananas, apples, or celery sticks for a truly satisfying pick-me-up.” Single-serve nut butter packs are a great option because not only are they convenient for travel, they also offer built-in portion control.

Look for nut butter packs with little to no added sugar for the best nutritional balance.

Related: 5 Energizing Snacks to Make Ahead and Eat All Week

13. Meat sticks or jerky 

Meat sticks and jerky are a great option for added protein on the road. 

These portable snacks provide satiating protein, so they’re especially helpful to add staying power to other snacks you have packed.

Pair your meat stick or jerky with fruit, vegetables, or roasted edamame for fiber. 

Related: These Are the Healthiest *and* Tastiest Jerkys — Including Vegan Options

14. Packable fruits

Grab-and-go fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas make the easiest packable snack with zero preparation required. 

Fruit is a great option for travel because it contains fiber and fluid to keep your digestion moving. It’s also tasty and low in calories, so it’s perfect to balance other not-so-nutritious options you might be enjoying on the road. 

Fruit is especially filling when paired with protein. Enjoy your packable fruits with nuts or jerky, or have them on the side when you indulge in your favorite fast food burger or breakfast sandwich. 

Read next: Dietitians’ Top Tips for Eating Healthily While Traveling


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