30 Best Foods to Take on a Road Trip That Aren't Junk Food

Headed on a road trip? These nutritious foods will satisfy your hunger while you're traveling - and they're actually good!

Published June 6, 2023
Three teenage friends having a snack in car

You're planning out everything you need for your upcoming road trip. Car charger? Check. Pillows and blankets? Got 'em. An unreasonable amount of underwear? Sure, you never know what'll happen.

But what about food? Last time, you relied on fast food and gas station junk - and your brain, body, and bank account were all very upset with you. With some planning ahead, you can bring along plenty of healthy, non-junk food road trip snacks like the ones on this list. They'll keep your tummy happy, your energy up, and your money spending down (especially if you've got a whole crew to feed).

Grab & Go Road Trip Food

When you're on-the-go, your snacks should be grab-and-go. These pre-made foods are all delicious, and some might even feel indulgent. But they're all reasonable choices that are better than grabbing unhealthy options at the gas station. Even kids will enjoy these!

Pop Corners

If puff corn and tortilla chips had a baby, it would be a bag of Pop Corners. These tasty morsels really satisfy that junk food snack craving while being a little bit on the healthier side. Pack a few single serve bags of different flavors to test out while you're on the road.

No-Prep Fruits

Young friends having fun in trunk of car

I'm going on a trip and I'm gonna bring... apples! Or bananas or tangerines. These road trip snacks will keep your energy boosted without a sugar crash. Of course, you can bring any fruit you want. These are just extra convenient because you can eat them as-is, and they won't take up space in your cooler.

Harvest Snaps

Healthy Organic Snap Pea Chips

Try Harvest Snaps for a lighter take on junk-foody chips. Are they as healthy as eating real snap peas? Of course not, but they do have more fiber and protein than a regular old potato chip, and they come in a lot of fun flavors - lookin' at you, Wasabi Ranch.

Dried Fruit

Maybe you're traveling to a warm destination and don't want to leave fresh fruit in a beating hot car while you're out doing touristy things. Bring some bags of dried fruit instead. They do have more sugar than standard fruit; however, they are still very nutrient-dense so you can get all your vitamins while you're traveling.

Protein Bars

woman eating protein bar

Keep up the gains and pack a few of your favorite protein bars for the ride (or try a new brand!). Cando Krisp bars, Power Crunch wafer bars, or the Quest protein cookies are my personal faves. They don't really feel like you're eating a protein bar, and they go great with coffee!


Popcorn is one of the best snacks in all walks of life, and especially when you're on the road! It's filling and shareable, and you can get it in so many flavors now. Try brands like Skinny Pop or Boom Chicka Pop for healthier options.

Quick Tip

Definitely bring toothpicks or flossers so you don't have to go a long car ride with popcorn kernels stuck in your teeth.

Granola Bars

If you're like me, you know the hangry pangs can strike at any moment, and that's the last thing you or your passengers need. I rarely leave my house without a granola bar because of this, and for longer adventures, you better believe I'm bringing the whole box. I'd choose Clif bars or Nature Valley crunch bars for my picks.

Rice Cakes

Rice cake broken in half

Dare I say rice cakes are an underrated snack? A few big ones will fill you up until your next meal, and they come in sweet and salty flavors for whatever mood you're in. You can also get small bags of mini rice cakes to split amongst everyone in the car (which is a big win if you're a parent).

Dark or Natural Chocolate

When not combined with a ton of sugar, chocolate actually has a lot of health benefits! So can we agree it's not really a junk food? Perfect, because you should have some chocolatey treats on your trip - it's supposed to be fun! If you'd rather not indulge in candy bars from the gas station, pack yourself a few dark chocolates or high-quality bars like Taza Sea Salt & Almonds or Lily's chocolate.

Turkey Sausage Sticks

Chilli flavoured Sausages

You didn't think I forgot about meat, did you? Pack some turkey sausage sticks (like Old Wisconsin Snack Sticks) for a savory, protein-packed option that'll keep you going.

Homemade Snack Options

Maybe you or one of your fellow road trippers has a special dietary requirement, or maybe you just like to prep fresh snacks so you know exactly what goes in them. It takes some extra time, but it will definitely save money and you can customize any recipe to your needs. Try these tasty homemade snacks to take on your road trip.

No-Bake Energy Bites

Energy bites are simple to make and will keep your energy up (obviously) so you're feeling great during your long journey. With a texture that's part cookie and part cookie dough, these energy bites are packed with peanut butter, oats, and chocolate chips. Kids will love eating these nutrient-dense snacks, too!

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Spicy Snack Chickpeas

If you haven't tried roasted chickpeas yet, this road trip might be the right time. They're crispy, flavorful, and healthy! Toss them in olive oil and your favorite seasonings before roasting them in the oven. They'll stay good for several days at room temperature - but I'm betting they'll be gone much sooner.

Trail Mix

Trail mix will never go out of style. It's versatile and customizable, the perfect combo of sweet and salty. And it's filling! Need I say more? Combine your favorite nuts, dried fruits, and cocoa nibs for a delicious homemade mix.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

Homemade muffin with chocolate chips

Make a batch of healthy oatmeal chocolate chip muffins ahead of time to satisfy your cravings and fill you up. Have a few for a light breakfast or just enjoy them as snacks throughout your day.

Roasted Flavored Nuts

One of the biggest faux pas of road trip snacks? Plain, unseasoned nuts. Yes, it's true. So how do you kick 'em up a notch? Roast them! You'll love how it adds richness and makes them even crunchier. Take your nut party even further by adding flavors like cinnamon or your favorite savory spices.

Road Trip Snacks to Keep in Your Cooler

Up your game by packing a few cold snack options you can keep in your cooler. Everyone will thank you for providing "real food" on the long car ride once they get tired of dry crunchies. Of course you can buy most of these options at gas stations on the road - for about 3x the price and questionable sell-by dates.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

boiled eggs in a white plate

If you like hard-boiled eggs, definitely bring some along for your trip. They're such an easy and affordable on-the-go food, not to mention full of nutrients.

Quick Tip

You can pre-peel your eggs and store them in ziplock bags or tupperware to make them even more convenient!

Tapioca Pudding Cups

Kids and adults will both love having some pudding on hand when you're in need of something sweet. KozyShack's Simply Well tapioca pudding is lower in sugar and carbs while having a little more protein than your standard Snack Pack, making it a great alternative.

String Cheese

I don't eat string cheese in my regular life, but for some reason a road trip feels like the right time to do so. Cheese is yummy and satisfying, perfect for any age, and it won't get crumbs all over your car.

Applesauce & Fruit Cups

apple puree in a glass jar

Bring along some single-serve applesauce or fruit cups. They don't take up much space, but you'll want to make sure you bring some spoons along to enjoy them. These don't really need to be in your cooler, they'll just taste more refreshing and tasty when served cold.

Yogurt Cups

Yogurt cups are high in protein and will satisfy your sweet tooth, making them a prime food choice to bring on your road trip. Go greek or regular in whatever flavors you and your people love.

Hummus & Veggies

hummus with cherry tomatoes, carrot and cucumber batons

Pack your favorite veggies in snack bags so they're easy to grab when you want something crunchy and nutritious. Carrots, cucumbers and peppers are perfect to dip in a single serve hummus cup. You can even bring pita chips to this healthy car snack party, if you want.

Protein Shakes

Walk the line of food and drink with a cold protein shake. Some people like to add these their coffee, but I like them as a pre-breakfast "snack" to tide me over until my real meal. I like Premier Protein or Muscle Milk brands, but there are so many out there to choose from.

Pickle Pouches

Don't slouch on a pickle in a pouch. Several brands sell these now, and they're the perfect salty addition to your travels. Oh Snap! or Van Holten's are a few popular varieties.

Cottage Cheese Cups

Cottage cheese is having a comeback moment right now, but you don't have to blend it up like they do on TikTok. Buy single-serve cups of cottage cheese and eat them as-is, or add fruit like blueberries or peaches. Careful, those combos will knock your socks off!

Road Trip Meals

Especially if you're going on a long trip, it's not always in the budget to eat out for every single meal! So as you're making your road trip packing list, plan to pack a few meals for you and your passengers. Most of these options will require some room in your cooler and will be best eaten the first day or so.


Strawberry and banana parfaits in mason jars over rustic wood

In a mason jar, layer yogurt, honey, granola, chia seeds, and fruits to your heart's content. It's the perfect on-the-go breakfast that will actually fill you up and start your day with the nutrients you need for the long car ride.

Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups

Roll up some turkey, cheese, and chopped veggies in a tortilla and slice it into pinwheels for a light (but filling!) meal. This is another great option that you can customize to you and your passengers' likings.

Bagels & Cream Cheese or Peanut Butter

I'll never say no to a bagel, even untoasted, but a bagel on a road trip? Sign me up. It's just too easy and delicious! Plus, you can dream beyond cream cheese and peanut butter - hummus, jam, guacamole - the sky is your limit.

Quinoa Salad

Healthy Quinoa Salad in a Jar

Make ahead a cold quinoa salad with veggies, feta, and a vinaigrette dressing of your choice. It won't get soggy and is packed full of protein, nutrients and flavor. And it's so refreshing! I like to eat mine with a few crackers or pita chips.

Road Trip Charcuterie

Gather your favorite meats, cheeses & fruits into a food storage container (or a snackle box) with a bag of crackers and nuts on the side. Once those hunger pangs hit, you'll have a filling, satisfying, and healthy enough lunch or dinner.


couple having a snack at a car

A sandwich is the perfect handheld meal - I'd say its holdability is its claim to fame. So you should definitely make a few of your favorite sandwiches ahead of time to enjoy while you're cruisin' down Route 66 (or wherever).

Quick Tip

Pre-made sandwiches are at their best on day one. Hold off on the condiments until you're ready to eat them to avoid soggy bread - the ultimate sandwich ruiner. Or, bring separate sandwich fixings and make them while you're on the go (just not while you're driving).

Set Yourself Up for Success With Healthy Road Trip Snacks

You're going to make so many amazing memories on your road trip, and sometimes food does play a part in those memories! I love stopping at a fast-food restaurant or grabbing something at the gas station as much as the next person. But I also know it's probably not a great idea to do it for every snack or meal. You'll be grateful that you brought some healthier options along for the ride, especially ones as delicious as these!

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30 Best Foods to Take on a Road Trip That Aren't Junk Food