Planning out a road trip can be grueling. Trying to figure out your stops along the way by gauging how far you think you’ll be able to drive in one day is no simple task. You’ve got to be realistic while also making sure that you are making the most out of the experience. On top of all that, you have to take care of yourself! While healthy food alternatives to bring on your trip may not be forefront of your planning, it definitely is worth talking about. Let me share with you 20 of my favorite healthy road trip foods.
There are so many places you want to stop by, old friends you want to see along the way, and countless experiences you want to take part in as you drive on, but wait—what about food?
And it’s not just, “What about food?” but more, “How will you sustain yourself for the entirety of the trip with limited ability to pack foods (especially cold foods) and no ability to cook your own meals (unless, of course, you are driving an up-to-date RV)?”
You can always stop along the way at diners and gas stations, and maybe you’ll get lucky and find a few bananas or nuts. However, most likely you'll want to be able to snack for those hour stretches where you are driving along.
There are plenty of healthy and easy foods that you can bring on your road trip that won’t take up too much space and can last for the duration of your trip.
What To Bring With You
Leave any frozen items at home, obviously. Pack one cooler with some refrigerated essentials, and rely on dry goods or pantry items to avoid spoiled food. The last thing you want is for your car to stink of bad food!
We’ve compiled a list of 20 healthy foods you can bring on your road trip. These snacks delicious, energizing, and packed with essential nutrients needed for you to stay focused and awake while you’re driving.
You can never go wrong by bringing along your favorite protein bars on a road trip. In many ways, protein bars are one of the easiest healthy snacks to bring with you. They are already in their own packaging, still taste great if they melt, and provide a boost of energy for when you get to those long highway stretches.
Protein bars are also great because they come in a variety of flavors with several healthy ingredients. You must make sure that you choose a protein bar with more natural ingredients, as some are loaded with sugar. You can find protein bars that satisfy your taste buds and your hunger. They typically are low in calories, and some even have boosts of fiber! Some brands that have protein bars filled with fiber include Gomacro, Verb energy, RX bars, and Orgain.
A bright and delicious snack to bring with you is an orange. These also come in their own packaging, kind of, but can be pre-peeled and bagged to limit the mess!
Oranges give you a boost of vitamin C that protects your cells from damage and your immune system. Research has found that the phytochemicals in oranges can help protect us from heart disease and cancer and provide anti-inflammatory and antiviral benefits. Bring along a few oranges and get that burst of sugar to get you driving a few more hours.
For a boost of healthy plant-based protein, snacking on some pistachios will do you good! Pistachios are low in calories but packed full of unsaturated fats and fiber. This is a relatively easy snack to bring with you, and it's likely to find a bag of these at any gas station you stop in.
If you need a late-night boost of energy and protein, eating a handful of pistachios will put you in a better headspace to keep pushing on.
Some granola mixes that you can purchase at the grocery store are loaded with sugar and chocolate. When you take the time to gather your own ingredients and make your own, you will see a major difference. Not only in the taste, but how it makes you feel.
Homemade granola is an excellent snack because it is high in fiber, protein, and micronutrients. You can add granola to your yogurt, combine it with fruit, or eat it by the handful. It can get a little messy, but it will definitely make you feel content!
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Peanut butter and banana sandwiches are one of our favorites. When eaten on whole wheat bread, this is a healthy sandwich loaded with protein and healthy fats. It’s sweet, which is great for satisfying any sweet cravings you might have.
We opt-out of jelly because it doesn’t really add anything to the sandwich other than sugar while it is delicious. Similarly, choosing a healthy peanut butter that is not loaded with sugars will be key to get maximum health benefits.
Carrots are a great vegetable to bring with you when you are on a road trip. They are easy to package, and for the most part, you can buy baby carrots and simply put them in storage containers to bring! You don’t have to chop carrots, making them an easy & healthy on-the-go food to bring with you.
You can even add a dipping sauce, like ranch or hummus, to add more flavor and get some additional nutrients.
Bell Peppers and Guacamole
Have you tried to make homemade guacamole before? It’s quite easy, and the results are to die for. Whipping up a batch of your guacamole with some tomatoes, avocados, onions, and lime juice before you head out on your next road trip ensures that you have a fun and flavorful snack for when you stop at your next bathroom break.
Yes, you could bring a bag of chips, but if you want to get maximum benefits out of this healthy food, slice up some bell peppers and use those as your dippers! Guacamole will be naturally healthy because of the avocado that it is made out of. Still, if you find yourself overdoing it with chips, the benefits will begin to cancel out.
Most nuts are going to be a great choice to bring on your next road trip. It goes without saying as the sterotypical road trip snack is trail mix, almonda are a pretty healthy food to bring along. They provide a boost of protein and healthy fats, and they are quite delicious!
Bringing some almonds can help give you energy when you are feeling tired, and they are easy to snack on. You don’t need both hands to snack on some almonds, so create a space in the cupholder beside you for a little bag and snack on them for the duration of your trip.
One ounce of almonds contains 3.5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, and this is only from 1 oz. Imagine what a handful of almonds would translate into!
You can definitely pick up some jerky at your next gas station stop, but should you? The ones you find in these locations are often loaded with preservatives and high sodium levels, making them not the best choice for an on-the-go pickup.
However, if you bring along natural jerky that you picked up from your local grass-fed market with no preservatives, this is a great snack to boost your energy and provide protein that will satisfy your hunger. Not bad for a healthy food alternative! Jerky is also relatively easy to bring along with you and won’t create a major mess in the car!
Now, you don’t want to bring too many foods that require you to keep them refrigerated, but tossing a few string cheese sticks into a cooler will boost the energy and protein you are looking for. String cheese contains protein and healthy fats, and when combined with apple slices, you also get the added benefit of complex carbs to fuel up and feel satisfied for longer.
There is no better time to relive your favorite parts of your childhood than with some string cheese in the car as you listen to some jams and watch the ground pass under the car.
Dark Chocolate Covered Anything
Okay, we had to slip this in here because dark chocolate is actually good for you! Who said healthy foods aren't delicous anyways? You might not want to bring full dark chocolate candy bars and eat them in one sitting, but having bits and pieces here and there can boost your energy and do good for your overall health.
Dark chocolate contains plant chemicals called flavonoids that may help relax blood vessels, improve blood flow, and reduce blood pressure. You can add bits of dark chocolate to your granola or find different nuts and fruits covered in dark chocolate to bring with you on your next trip. This is the best excuse to get some sweet chocolate on the road with you!
Whole Grain Dry Cereal
Most cereals that you grew up eating are loaded with sugars and processed ingredients that don’t do you any good. So, unfortunately, Lucky Charms and Reese’s Puffs must be put back on the shelf and turned away from.
Make sure to read the cereal boxes before you pick which one to bring with you. You want to avoid cereal loaded with sugars and instead locate the cereal that will provide you with a boost of fiber. You can find this with many whole grain cereals found in organic aisles, or even opting for Honey Nut Cheerios will put you in a better place!
Black Bean Brownies
We all love a sweet, chocolaty brownie. Whether it’s on top of your favorite ice or enjoyed with a glass of low-fat milk or plant-based milk, brownies are delicious and well-loved by many. And of course, when we are on a road trip, we will want something that’s like a dessert, right?
Unfortunately, brownies are not necessarily good for you. They can be loaded with sugars and refined products and might not hold much nutritional value. But we know how to make brownies that are good for you.
Black bean brownies are not as scary as they sound, we promise! By adding black beans into your brownie mix, you add a massive source of protein, making the delicious treat now good for you! This snack might fool some people completely, so wait until after they’re all gone to let everyone know what was inside!
Apples and Nut Butter
An apple a day keeps the doctor away! And when you add some nut butter to it, you just really do your body a favor. Slicing up some apples and bringing Justin’s Nut Butter packets with you on your trip make for an easy and nutritious snack. This snack creates very little mess (unless you spill the nut butter everywhere) and is packed with antioxidants and fiber.
This snack will give you energy, promote positive immune health, and will taste great!
Bringing along dried fruit is great for those who are going on a longer trip. Dried fruits stay good for longer and hold the same antioxidants and minerals as their fresh fruit counterpart. You don’t sacrifice losing out on minerals and vitamins when you choose to eat dried fruits.
Dried fruits carry a considerable amount of dietary fiber, which we know is essential in breaking down energy and proper digestive health. You can choose from various dried fruits, like apricots, mangoes, peaches, raisins, and more! Dried fruit is generally higher in sugar and calories, so adding a few pieces to a bag of mixed nuts is a great way to keep the nutritional benefits without overloading on sugar.
Deli Sandwich or Wrap
Sometimes, it’s the middle of the day, you’ve been driving for several hours already, lunch is around the corner, and all you want is a nice, fulfilling sandwich. Pre-made deli sandwiches that you bring along with you can boost the protein and carbs you are looking for to get some energy.
You can hand-make your sandwich or wrap to make sure that you are putting healthy ingredients on it to increase your protein, fiber, and antioxidant intake! You can customize your sandwiches to be exactly what you want, which makes this a great snack to bring! Aim for leaner meats such as chicken and turkey and if you can, make sure they are nitrate-free.
While these fruits do contain lots of sugar, they are a great snack to bring with you when traveling because you can pop them in your mouth and not make a mess. Grapes are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and you can pick which flavor you like best!
Just be mindful of how many you are consuming in one sitting!
Chickpeas are packed with protein and dietary fiber that help boost your immune system and positively impact your health. Chickpeas are high in plant-based protein and can be used in salads as substitutes for animal protein, and when roasted up, make for a great snack to bring with you in the car.
You can make your own roasted chickpeas tossed in some garlic powder, which ensures that nothing is added to them that would be bad for your health!
Salad in a Jar
This is a fun and easy way to snack on all the foods you need to be provided with energy and nutrients. Salads are the #1 food most people think of when someone says "eat healthy food", for good reason. Using your favorite kinds of greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, croutons, shredded cheese, and your favorite dressing, you can create a salad in a jar! This meal is easy to bring with you on the road and provides multiple health benefits.
Depending on the ingredients you include in the dish, you can boost your intake of vitamins and antioxidants and enjoy a delicious meal.
You should make sure that you have plenty of water with you on this road trip. It will be extremely beneficial for you to stay hydrated while on the road, but make sure you factor in the added bathroom breaks!
Healthy Foods - Happy Road Trip
The list goes on and on, and finding what healthy foods you will bring often comes down to what you like! It’s important to ensure that your nutrition levels are healthy while you are on the go because you need to have energy and focus while traveling.
If you want to track your nutrient levels, consider signing up with Vessel Health. We offer solutions on how to improve your overall health. Eat better, sleep better, and feel better with Vessel Health!
Mikaela Frame See all the author’s articles