A couple years ago, we clocked in somewhere between 11,000-12,000 miles on road trips. And now, we’ve driven back and forth across the entire US, meandering in between in our RV. Needless to say, we’ve spent a lot of time in the car and go through a LOT of road trip snacks for kids.
We tend to do a lot of eating in the car on road trips, because we like to reserve outside-the-car time for running and getting out wiggles. We don’t often stop for snack time while road tripping, and will often eat full meals while driving if we have a lot of drive time in a day.
All that is because when we’re stopped, we want our kids MOVING! We don’t want our kids sitting around and wasting time not moving around while we’re out of the car – they have plenty of time to be still while we’re driving. (Plus, a couple of our kids eat at a snail’s pace, so we’d never get anywhere if we waited for them to finish meals…)
Healthy Road Trip Snacks for Kids
Because of this, we try to pack a lot of terrific road trip snacks for kids that are also reasonably healthy. We also quickly figured out which snacks are more hassle than they’re worth!
At home, we try as much as possible to eat very few processed foods, so when we pull out fishy crackers on occasions like this, it may as well be Christmas. While we do still try to have a good number of healthful options while traveling, this is definitely the time to be a little more lenient.
Still, we find that if we only eat junk while traveling, no one is at their best. We like to have an assortment of protein-heavy foods, along with fresh fruit and veggies, with some fun things mixed in. Most of these are vegetarian road trip snacks, with plenty of vegan road trip snacks mixed in, too.
Here are some of our favorite road trip snacks for kids – I hope they help you, too!
ROAD TRIP COOLER SNACKS
We like to bring a soft-sided cooler bag along in the car to keep a day’s worth of stuff accessible. This one is the creme de la creme, or this version is much less expensive with great reviews.
We’ll also often bring a hard-sided cooler (also this one) that stores things for longer that we don’t open and close regularly. Of course, if we’re in the RV, we store things in the refrigerator. We still like to have a soft cooler up near the front to easily hand out food during the day without constantly opening the fridge (and without needing to stop).
Here’s what we stick in there:
What We Put in Our Road Trip Coolers
- Cheese. We’re big cheese fans so we usually have a few kinds. Cut up cubes of cheddar, string cheese, or those mini Tillamoo slices.
- Cottage cheese. We like to get the individual containers for road trips. These are nice because they’re filling and provide a lot of protein for a quick addition to a meal.
- Hummus. If we’re feeling fancy/like fun parents, we’ll get those individual containers of hummus & pretzels, which our kids think are SO fun.
- Hard boiled eggs. These are another great meal-ish sort of snack.
- Edamame. My kids are obsessed.
- Yogurt containers. We’ll try to do healthier ones like full-fat Greek yogurt with minimal sugar.
- Bowtie pasta. This is an easy one that kiddos can eat with their fingers and not make a giant mess. I refuse to do red sauce, but it’s good with just butter and salt and pepper and some veggies and/or cheese mixed in.
- Greens. Maybe a bag of spinach or kale. Perfect for throwing in pasta or for adding to a quick hummus in tortilla.
- Smoothie drinks or frozen smoothie pops (or frozen yogurt pops). I love these squeezable popsicle molds with lids to keep things clean!
FRUIT AND VEGGIES FOR A ROAD TRIP
In addition to dairy and other cold foods for a road trip, we like to have a wide variety of fruit and veggies. It’s so easy to snack nonstop on a road trip, and it’s great to have some fresh and healthy options on hand.
Best veggies and fruits for a road trip
- Baby carrots
- Sliced bell peppers
- Snap peas
- Grape tomatoes. We could seriously each eat a pint of those.
- Broccoli or cauliflower. It’s fun to add a little up cup of ranch dip.
- Roasted kale.
- Clementines. I could eat a whole bag of Cutie oranges by myself. Plus, there’s something so refreshing about that scent while on a road trip, and they can help combat any carsickness (I know this from experience).
- Apples. Sturdy and won’t spoil easily. (We avoid bananas for this reason.)
- Grapes. Is there anything better than cold grapes on a road trip?
- Blueberries. This one kind of stresses me out, to be honest, because I have visions of them getting squished into clothing and staining everything purple. But my kids love berries so we try to just give the kids small portions in their containers (more below) and implore them to not spill. Better than raspberries or strawberries, right?
- Avocados. These can’t be stored for super long, but they’re so filling and such a good mini meal that we like to have some on hand (and they’re great for baby-led weaning, too). All of us love just scooping avocado out with a spoon and it makes PBJ seem more satisfying with half an avocado on the side.
- If you don’t want a whole avocado, these guacamole cups are perfect for dipping.
DRY ROAD TRIP SNACKS
- Nuts. We always have multiple packages of different kinds of nuts to pass around. We especially love an assortment of flavored nuts, like these Smokehouse almonds, salt & vinegar almonds, and these toasted coconut almonds.
- Fig bars. More on the treat side, but a fun snack. We love the blueberry ones.
- Dried fruit. Dried mango is a big hit, as are banana chips.
- Fruit leather.
- Pretzel sticks. Love them on their own or dipped in hummus.
- Veggie straws and fishy crackers. Like I said, these are a total treat for my kids, and we’ll pull them out if they’re getting to the end of their ropes.
- Dried seaweed. Is anyone else’s kid obsessed with this?
- Mini packs of olives. You know those ones in oil with red pepper and spices? I love them. Just be careful to not get oil all over your clothes…
- Cheese crisps. These are so yummy!
- We mostly do regular water while driving, but we like to have a few fun drinks, too. I love those Hint waters, as well as coconut water (my fave). It’s also fun having some sparkling waters, or the La Croix ones.
- A few packs of squeezable applesauce are always good to have on hand.
- Also a few gummy or fruit snacks. Because my kids think they are better than dark chocolate, which I do not understand, but to each their own.
- Crunchy beans. Great protein snack! You can also roast your own chickpeas with some spices – super yummy.
- Kind bars. I’d recommend against the chocolate kind unless you plan to keep them in the cooler.
- We avoid graham crackers because they make a giant mess, but animal cookies are a decent substitute. We also like those cinnamon letter cookies from Trader Joe’s.
- Cheese or peanut butter crackers
- Coconut chips. Yummy in Greek yogurt, too!
- Protein bars. My kids really like these Zbars.
- Popcorn. It’s nice having these individual bags for easy portioning.
- Protein balls. You can make your own no bake ones.
ROAD TRIP MEALS FOR KIDS
In addition to the fresh snacks in the cooler, we like to have an assortment of other dry and shelf-stable snackables that work as quick meals.
- Peanut butter and a loaf of bread. I can’t tell you how many times we thought we’d make it to a city/restaurant for a meal and either didn’t have time to stop or our kids got hungry sooner or we decided we wanted to push through to get to our destination quicker than planned. Having a big jar of PB and bread on hand has saved us more times than I can count. Get bread that’s not too squishy, but also that isn’t so hard that it will make a zillion crumbs.
- Speaking of PB, we also like to have a few squeezable packs of peanut or almond butter. These are great for grabbing to go hiking or something, too.
- Tortillas. These are another great thing to have on hand for quick meals when you can’t stand the thought of another PB sandwich. We’ll fill them with hummus and cheese and maybe some baby spinach from the cooler.
- Cans of chickpeas. I know this sounds weird, but I’m serious, they’re one of the best foods to take on a road trip! My kids could eat these all day. Sometimes, we’ll rinse out the can in the morning and dump the chickpeas into a ziplock bag. Other times, we’ll just take the cans and rinse them out on the side of the road. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done. My kids (and I!) think they are so yummy, and they’re filling and healthy. Add a grind of salt & pepper, plus a drizzle of olive oil, to really step them up!
- Cans of cannellini beans. These go great in the wraps with hummus.
- Canned corn. Same deal. My kids love it. I can’t explain it. Corn easy to just drain and serve.
- Pita pockets. These are easy and quick to stuff with hummus, mozzarella, and spinach.
- Cheese and crackers are always a win and are perfect for a quick meal with some fruit and veggies!
OTHER ROAD TRIP ITEMS FOR KIDS
- Baby wipes. Bring a zillion of them. Even if you don’t have a baby. You’ll need them, trust me.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Trash bags. We put one in the front and one in the back of the minivan or RV.
- Ziplock bags. We bring a fresh box of them because they are just so useful for containing things, holding leftovers, sealing off dirty diapers if you need to do a side-of-the-road change, etc.
- These little penguin cold packs are so cute!
- Plastic utensilsand paper plates.
- A giant roll of paper towels.
- I find that with kids, paper plates don’t work as well in the car because they tend to spill. So we usually bring some sort of reusable container with sides. I like to get a pack of something like these Ziplock containers – that way, if they get lost or destroyed, it’s no big deal. But we can still reuse them if we want. If there’s food leftover, we can stick a lid on it and write someone’s name on top and put it in the cooler for later. And it really cuts down on the mess versus a paper plate. We’ve also taken the kids’ school Planetboxes. Those are amazing because they’re reusable and have separate compartments – so helpful!
- A can opener. For all those cans you brought.
- A few of your favorite treats. You probably don’t need my help here. 😉
What am I missing? Tell me what I need to add to our arsenal of road trip snacks for kids for our next trip!
IF YOU LIKED THIS POST ABOUT HEALTHY ROAD TRIP SNACKS FOR KIDS, YOU MIGHT LIKE THESE POSTS TOO:
Preethi, I don’t know if you remember me. I was in the Philly YSA branch for 5 months in 2003-4. I think you and Dan were freshman around that time.
I found you through Instagram and it’s been so fun to see your adventures here. My husband and I also like exploring and traveling with our four kids. But haven’t taken all of them on our international travels. You’ve made me feel like it really could be possible.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and goodness. And I loved this post – I’m always needing ideas for road trips. We often stop and eat along the way at restaurants, but we always feel blah after constant fast food. I like your philosophy of making the most of your time out of the car. And will use some of these suggestions for our next road trip.
Best wishes! -Marilyn
Marilyn, I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to respond! So fun to hear from you and I definitely remember you. Thank you so much for commenting and for your kind words – I really appreciate that!! I hope some of the suggestions have been helpful!
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