27 healthy snacks for road trips with highway and mountains

27 Healthy Snacks on Your Summer Road Trip

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Planning a summer road trip? Here are 27 ideas for packing healthy vegan snacks for a long family or solo road trip. There are some that don’t have to be refrigerated, and others that should be stored with ice in a cooler. This can help you to save time, continue your healthy eating choices, and save money too.

This country is beautiful and you can appreciate it best with a close-up view. Here is a photo from the Appalachian mountains in western Virginia.

view from highway of Appalachian mountains in Virginia
Appalachian mountains in Virginia

Road trips are also a great way to spend time with your loved ones. As we have now driven to Florida 8 times, I thought I would share some ideas for packing healthy foods for the journey.

It is a great idea to plan ahead and pack yourself some healthy snacks and even meals. The alternatives often are fast food and convenience store snacks – not the best fuel for our bodies! While at home in Pennsylvania there is an excellent chain of convenience stores known for fresh produce, soups, and sandwich options, I didn’t find much in the way of fresh food in our brief stops in convenience and gas stations. But with a little preparation, good nutrition doesn’t have to take a back seat on your trip.

Breakfast the Morning of the Trip

Having a filling breakfast is the first step. Look for good sources of fiber, protein, and some healthy fat to help to stay full for a while. Here are some healthy plant-based ideas I like:

  • Whole-grain cereal with berries and soy milk
  • Mashed avocado with lemon and tomatoes spread on whole-grain toast
  • A pumpernickel bagel with almond butter and a banana
  • Plant-based yogurt with chopped apples
  • Whole-grain pancakes: make the night ahead of time and heat up in the morning
  • Whole grain waffles: homemade or frozen ones. Top with nut butter and fruit or coconut yogurt and granola
Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks
Amazingly moist vegan bread: perfect with coffee or tea for breakfast or a snack. Just right when you want to bake a healthy treat.
Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips
3 slices of banana bread with chocolate chunks on white plate with pink flowers
Healthy Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins
Try these easy muffins with fresh cranberries and orange zest for a delcious light breakfast or snack! Nutritious with oatmeal and reduced in fat and added sugar. Vegan recipe.
Healthy Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins
orange cranberry oatmeal muffins on white plate with oranges next to it
My Favorite Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Waffles with Pecans
Tasty waffles with pumpkin, warm spices, whole grains, and quinoa for a delightful fluffy waffle and pecan crunch
Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Waffles with Pecans
Pumpkin quinoa waffle with pecans topped with raspberries and blueberries
Overnight Proats Recipe – Melissa E. Nieves, LND, RD, MPH
Learn to make overnight proats: easy, nutritious and delicious. Strawberry chocolate proats that taste like dessert for breakfast!
Overnight Proats Recipe
Overnight Proats Recipe -  Melissa E. Nieves, LND, RD, MPH

These are quick and easy when trying to get an early start.

Healthy Snacks to Pack

vegan banana peanut butter muffins on white plate
vegan peanut butter banana muffins

Fruits are really refreshing on a trip. They provide water and often important nutrients like fiber and vitamin C. Grapes hold up well for travel. I also like to pack raisins since they aren’t perishable. Clementines or quartered oranges, blueberries, apple slices, mango slices, and pineapple chunks are good too.

I like to take a banana, but there is high mushiness potential so I just pack one for the first day. Strawberries and watermelon also can get messy. I only recommend these if you need to clean out your fridge before leaving. And then maybe you can eat them at a rest-stop picnic table. Plant-based yogurt cups in a cooler would be refreshing for a rest stop.

Try hummus with whole-grain crackers – the 2-ounce snack packs are convenient. Whole-grain pretzels, sliced carrots, celery sticks, cucumber slices, and pepper strips go great with hummus. But know your audience: try to avoid messes. 

Keeping Cold Foods Cold

While I have used an insulated lunch bag with ice packs previously, this year I got a small cooler. It does seem to hold the temperature of foods better, although it is a little bulkier to carry. I put in an ice pack and a baggie of ice cubes and that worked well for a 600-mile day. Keep anything perishable at 40 degrees F. or slightly less.

Sandwich Ideas

Whole-grain bread with peanut butter or another nut butter and fruit preserves keep well in a cooler. Or try a tortilla with fillings like bean dip, guacamole, grilled tempeh, spinach, and roasted red peppers. Whole wheat mini bagels or pita bread are also convenient.

Recipes for Healthy Snacks

Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Balls – Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Wondering how to make energy balls or energy bites? It’s so easy with this gluten-free chocolate almond butter protein balls recipe.
Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Balls
Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Balls - Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
(No Bake) Coconut Date Balls – from Julie Kay Andrews RD
4-ingredient raw coconut date balls with dates, coconut, coconut oil and nuts. The perfect bite-sized snack with loads of nutrition.
(No Bake) Coconut Date Balls
(No Bake) Coconut Date Balls - from Julie Kay Andrews RD
Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
Fluffy, easy muffins with bananas and melty dark chocolate. A perfect light breakfast or snack! These are dairy-free and egg-free plus have less sugar and fat than most muffins
Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
vegan banana peanut butter muffins on white plate

Grains and Crunchy Snacks

Some of my favorites are popcorn, apple cinnamon rice crisps, and granola bars without melty chocolate chips. A container of a low-sugar cereal is also nice to crunch on. Look for baked or whole-grain chips.

For younger kids, avoid hard and crunchy foods like baby carrots, whole grapes, nuts, popcorn, and spoonfuls of peanut butter, and check this article from eatright.org for more tips to prevent choking.

More Road Trip Ideas

Beverages: We pack ice water in thermal mugs.

Brushing Teeth: I keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in my purse for rest stops.

Keeping Your Vehicle Neat: sanitizing hand wipes are helpful. Bring napkins or paper towels and a bag for trash for each day.

Exercise: this is a challenge if you are in the car for 8, 10, 12, or more hours! It is great to find a hotel with a fitness center and a pool.

Hopefully sharing these tips can help you plan your road trip: and still have energy by the time you arrive!

More Healthy Eating and Travel Tips

What’s one of your favorite healthy snacks for road trips? Please let me know in the comments below.

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Originally published 2019, Updated 7/9/22

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