My five-year old, Gabby, and I are hitting the road in a couple days for our annual trip north to my hometown. As a self-admitted "muncher," I have always been one of those who packs the car or carry-on luggage with plenty of snacks. However, after we were both diagnosed with food allergies several years ago (wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and yeast, among others), stocking up before trips became an imperative. I know from experience that there are very long stretches of highway between here and most destinations where there is little we can safely eat. Virtual wastelands of healthy food options. So, I've become expert at preparing and packing healthy snacks to keep us energized and satisfied.
With the exception of the fresh fruits and veggies and a couple other items, the snacks that have made my list of favorites don’t require refrigeration, will not melt, and will not create huge messes (important if you're traveling with young children). They are also readily eaten by a preschooler. Well, except for raw radishes (too spicy), cherry tomatoes (too squishy), and bone broth (not okay with warm beverages). But considering the length of this list, that's pretty good in my book!
Everything included below is free of wheat and dairy, to which Gabby and I are both allergic, as well as fairly low in sugar, which we watch closely. They do not adhere strictly to any one diet protocol, so there's something here for everyone, no matter what foods you're currently enjoying or avoiding.
Ready to hit the road? Here are a ton of healthy snack ideas to consider for your next trip! So that you can easily find what we've tested and enjoy, I've provided links to favorite items that I buy online.
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When traveling, I tend to avoid packing fruits like pears, kiwi, peaches, nectarines, and bananas that easily bruise and quickly get mushy. Try some of these instead:
- Mandarin oranges, clementines
- Pineapple chunks
- Melons: I use this melon baller, which makes melon easy to transport and eat without mess.
- Avocado: I love mine with sea salt, which I bring along with me as well in travel size. I wrap each avocado in a clean rag or old washcloth to pad it a bit for transport.
- Green smoothies: If I’m driving to my destination, I make a quart of green smoothie right before I leave and carry it in a ball canning jar in a cooler. Or freeze a container the night before and it will slowly thaw on the way. If you don’t have some favorite go-to recipes, check out Green Smoothie Girl’s recipe archive. If you’ve never tried rhubarb in a smoothie, give her Bumble Berry Pie Smoothie a try this week!
Vegetables are traveling powerhouses. They are super nutritious, durable, packed with fiber, not messy to eat, and can last a decent amount of time without refrigeration. Enjoy plain or dipped in hummus or guacamole. Another favorite is to mix sliced cucumbers with olive oil and sea salt (as in the picture at the bottom of this post).
- Cauliflower florets
- Broccoli florets
- Baby carrots
- Snap peas
- Celery sticks
- Pepper slices
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sliced jicama
Preserved Fruits and Veggies
- Organic squeeze pouches: These are not just for toddlers! In places where good quality fresh fruits and vegetables can be hard to come by, squeeze pouches provide a way to safely take in some whole food nutrients.
- Veggie-Go Organic Fruit and Veggie Strips
- Greens/Superfood Blend: Powered green superfood blends are easy to carry and are perfect for increasing your intake of fruits and veggies during long trips. Just add water and drink! This Subi Superjuice Blend is a good option.
- Dried fruit: I rarely eat dried fruit and limit my daughter’s consumption of it (and mostly to prunes) because of the high sugar content. However, dried fruit packs well and doesn’t result in huge messes in cars and on airplanes, so we take it along when traveling. Look for organic fruit without anything added (no sugar, flavorings, food dyes, or preservatives). The only ingredient on the label should be fruit. I typically buy our dried fruit at Trader Joe’s because it typically has the best prices. The store doesn't, however, carry three of our most favorite dried fruits:
- Organic white mulberries
- Organic golden berries: Never heard of these? Resembling a golden raisin but with a flavor that is both sweet and tart, golden berries are one of the most nutrient-dense superfruits. They are composed of easy-to-absorb bioavailable
compounds and are much higher in protein and lower in sugar than many other small berries.
- Organic goji berries: We love these antioxidant powerhouses!
- Fermented veggies: If your body reacts well to fermented foods, they are great for keeping your digestion going when you'll be sitting for long periods (think car and plane travel) and your good bacteria levels high. Cultured veggies, such as carrots, are fine unrefrigerated for a day. Just be sure to get them back in the fridge when you get to your destination.
Single-Serve Nut Butter Packets
I love these packets because they mean not lugging around glass jars and knives. They provide a comfort food standby with an added energy boost. Good eaten on their own or with apples, celery, carrots, bananas, or crackers.
Nut and Seed Butters
I often make nut and seed butters and store them in glass canning jars. When I order them online or buy them in a store, I look for ones that are organic and contain no (or very little) added sugar. Here are some of our favorites!
Nuts and Seeds
- Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, etc. I typically buy these raw at Trader Joe’s, which has the lowest prices. I then soak them to make them easier to digest and dehydrate them back to their natural crunchy state. Sometimes I add herbs or spices to them before dehydrating. If this is not already part of your kitchen routine, here’s a good explanation of why you might want to soak your nuts, seeds, and grains, along with a step-by-step guide for how to do it.
- Royal Hawaiian Orchards Macadamias: Not only do I love macadamia nuts, but they are an excellent source of healthy fat. I ALWAYS pack these for travel and have bags on hand in my pantry and office.
- We also love to snack on pumpkin seeds, especially Navitas Organics Coconut Hemp Pumpkin Seeds, SuperSeedz Maple Sugar & Sea Salt, and Go Raw Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds with sea salt.
I enjoy sardines, mackerel, herring, smoked oysters, and salmon in general (they are lower in toxins than other types of fish), as well as for how easy they are to stick in a suitcase or carry-on. Anchovies fall into the low-toxin category as well, but I cannot get past their saltiness, not matter how many times I give them a try. But if you love anchovies, take some tins along on your next trip! Trader Joe’s has all of these at good prices. Online, I order these:
Meat Bars and Sticks
Gabby regularly takes these for snack at school. They are also perfect for the road, as they require no refrigeration, silverware, and do not make a mess.
I'm egg-allergic right now, but Gabby is fine with them. Be sure these are in a cooler with ice if traveling for longer than a few hours.
I drink a warm mug of bone broth (chicken, beef, turkey, or fish) every morning, blended with fresh herbs, sea vegetables (kelp or dulse), and a pinch of sea salt. I usually make my own in my Instant Pot (what an amazing kitchen appliance!). However, when we are out of bones and/or chicken feet (used for added collagen gelling power) or traveling, it's easier to pack a couple cartons of Kettle & Fire bone broth than it is to lug around quart-sized glass jars of liquid that need refrigeration. This broth is made from organic meats, vegetables, and herbs and is slow cooked for 10+ hours. All you have to do is heat and sip!
Collagen Peptide Packets
No room or too much hassle to bring along bone broth? Collagen peptide packets to the rescue! Lightweight to carry and simple to use. Collagen helps ensure the health and vitality of your skin, hair, tendons, cartilage, bones, and joints. Add to your smoothies, coffee, or oatmeal. It dissolves easily in both hot or cold liquids.
- The Real Coconut’s Coconut Flour Tortilla Chips
- Forager Project’s Organic Pressed Vegetable Chips
- Siete Grain-free Tortilla Chips (made with cassava flour)
- Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers: My family’s favorite! Can’t seem to keep a box around longer than a day!
- Coconut chips
- Roasted chickpeas
- Plantain chips
- Popcorn popped in coconut oil
- Roasted seaweed
Travel-Size Olive Oil
I love Kasandrinos travel packets, which are perfect for airplane or car salad dressings, as well as their small glass travel bottles of olive oil. PRO TIP: Cut a lemon in half and place in a small container before you leave. Combines with olive oil and this travel-sized sea salt, it makes for an easy, fresh, and nourishing dressing on the go.
I bring my own herbal tea bags with me when I travel to ensure that I’m getting good quality organic teas that do not have artificial flavors or colors in them.
PRO TIP: MAKE A SNACK TOTE
Instead of throwing all your snacks into reusable shopping bags (like I’ve been known to do!), head to the dollar store and pick up an open tote to hold your non-perishable snacks. That way, everything is readily accessible and easy to find. Saves you from digging through bags while driving and having food items strewn about your car. Plus, it's super easy to refill when you're running low.
Here are the actual snacks Gabby and I packed for our trip. We didn't have time to grocery shop before we left, so we grabbed odds and ends out of our pantry and fridge. On the road heading north. Join us for lunch at a rest stop in the middle of the Pennsylvania Turnpike!
Have a favorite healthy travel snack that I missed? Leave a comment below and I’ll consider adding it to my list. Happy travels to you!