Healthy Road Trip Snacks


Spring break is right around the corner and many of you will be traveling or going on a road trip. It can be challenging to navigate eating healthy while traveling – especially on those loooong travel days! 

Stopping for fast food and gas station fare can leave you feeling like crap and quite honestly it’s expensive! Not to mention if you have allergies or food sensitivities it can be even more challenging to find safe foods to eat. As someone who does not consume gluten my food choices on the road and in the air tend to be very limited, especially if we’re looking for something to grab and go. 

In order to save money, time, and prevent tummy aches or showing up at our destination feeling sick I have become a bit of a pro at planning ahead and packing delicious, healthy, satisfying snacks that my husband and I bring from home! In this blog post I’ll share what I pack for road trips, when we fly, and what I would recommend at hotel breakfast buffets. 

Road Trips

Whenever we have a long road trip we always pack a cooler. We love our Coleman PowerChill Thermoelectric Cooler! We love our thermoelectric cooler because it plugs into our car and if we’re stopping overnight we can bring it right inside our hotel room and plug it in. It is big though, and you could certainly pack a much smaller cooler and use reusable cold packs to keep your food cold for shorter trips. Packing a cooler allows us to have healthy foods we can eat for breakfast right in our hotel room or lunch and dinner options we can throw together when we stop for gas and restroom breaks. 

Here are some of the healthy snacks and foods we often pack in our cooler:

  • Single serve greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Premade yogurt parfaits in glass mason jars
  • Cut up carrots, celery, snap peas and single serve dips like hummus and guacamole
  • Ingredients for wraps: turkey breast slices, sliced cheese, lettuce, wraps 
  • Fruits: apples, mandarins (easy to peel!)
  • Charcuterie on the go: we pre-slice blocks of cheese and pepperoni and put it in containers.
  • Kombucha (for a fun, fizzy, probiotic rich drink!)

We also pack a reusable grocery bag full of non-perishable items that stay in the back seat: whole grain crackers (for our charcuterie on the go!), bananas, nuts and seeds, jerky/beef sticks, and of course a few sweet treats (high quality chocolate, homemade cookies). We also pack paper towels/napkins, plates, and utensils. 

Flying/Eating at the Airport

Again because of food allergies I’m always sure to pack some items that will carry me through a long day of flying, especially if we have quick layovers. I usually stick with prepackaged foods/snacks for security screening purposes, but I have packed homemade sandwiches and had no issue. I pick things that have minimal ingredients and that have protein and fat which will keep my blood sugar stable and keep me satisfied longer. 

Some of my go to prepackaged snacks that get packed in my carry on include:

One lesson I learned the hard way – make sure you have some peanut and nut free snacks! Years ago I packed a bunch of bars and trail mix, everything had peanut or almonds in it. Once everyone had boarded the flight crew announced that there was a traveler on board with a serious allergy to both, and to please refrain from eating any items with peanuts or almonds. I got pretty hungry on that flight….

If we have connecting flights and a long layover we will usually check out the assortment  of restaurants where we can get a sit down meal. Most restaurants will have their menu posted by the hostess stand so you can check out your options before getting a table. The options at sit down restaurants are typically a bit healthier than many of the fast food spots. 

When we are strapped for time some of the grab and go kiosks and stores are my go to over fast food joints. When we recently flew through Philly I was pleased to find a kiosk and restaurant that had plenty of a la carte options. I went with some Good Culture Cottage Cheese and a cup of fresh strawberries (great source of protein, healthy fats, carbs, fiber). 

Navigating the Free Hotel Breakfast Buffet

Ok, this one can be a bit tricky. Hotel breakfast buffets are often filled with highly processed blood sugar spiking options (cereal, muffins, croissants, toast, bagels, waffles, pancakes).

I recommend trying to eat a well balanced breakfast and taking advantage of any protein options they may have like scrambled or hard boiled eggs, yogurt, bacon, and sausage. Some finer hotels even have omelette stations which is what I would get. A hearty serving of protein from one or multiple of the options above and some fresh fruit would be hearty well balanced breakfast. If you want to enjoy something starchy with your protein go with some whole grain toast or an English muffin over a giant muffin, pastry, or waffle. Your typical blueberry muffin has 450 calories, 19 grams of fat, only 7grams of protein, and a whopping 35 grams of ADDED sugars! The American Heart Association recommends that an adult male should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar per day, and an adult female is even fewer, no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day. A typical muffin is well above these numbers! 

And remember, free isn’t always good. If you take a look at the free breakfast items and they are all processed foods or just don’t look appetizing you may be better off spending some money and going to a nearby grocery store to get something healthy or go to a local restaurant that serves breakfast and get a healthy made-to-order meal. Made-to-order meals significantly increases your chances of getting real food instead of the ultra processed foods that are often at continental and breakfast buffets.

The Key is Planning

By taking a little time to plan and pack some healthy meals and snacks you can save money, reduce stress over food availability and choices, and keep your blood sugar stable and energy levels up.

As the saying goes, without a plan you can plan to fail! I love to help my clients succeed by guiding them in how to meal plan effectively. If you need some help planning healthy weekday meals, navigating busy weekends, and eating while traveling give me a call to set up your complimentary Nourish to Flourish Strategy Session to discuss how I can help!

In Health,

Amanda Watson, BCHN®

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