The Best “To-Go” Snacks for Family Travel
Road trip snacks for kids are one of the many things to think about when you’re packing for your family adventure, and it’s an important one!
If you are traveling any significant distance with toddlers or kids, they will need to eat a snack. You may choose to have a snack in the car or at a “pit stop.”
The following are my tips and tricks to avoiding “hangry” kids on a fun family trip. Included in this article is a list of foods that work great for snacks. And, read on for how to pack the foods and make clean up easy.
Taking a few minutes to plan and prep your kids’ snacks will make your trip tons more fun, believe me!
“Dry” Snack Ideas
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars
Earth’s Best Snack Bars
Teddy Graham Crackers
Trail Mix (careful of choking in young kids, give only if age-appropriate for your child)
Annie’s Snack Variety Packs- these include organic “Cheddar Bunnies”, “Bunny Grahams”, organic “Cheddar Squares” crackers
Dried Fruit- “Bare Baked Apple Chips”, dried apricots, dried cranberries, raisins, etc.
Peanut Butter Pretzels (I like the Kirkland ones)
Gummies (use sparingly)
For Toddlers: Puffs and Teething Crackers
Cold Snacks you Keep in Your Cooler
Sliced Sweet Peppers
Pealed Boiled Egg
Berries- Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries
Pouches for Toddlers and Young kids
Fruit and veggie pouches are amazing, you should definitely use these with young kids. On road trips, we used these for our kids long after we stopped using them at home. They help keep your car cleaner and they are so easy to just hand to your kids!
Water is the best choice for road trip drinks. I recommend a water bottle with a lid.
Klean Kanteen water bottles for kids are great. These are durable, stainless steel, and they don’t leak.
How Many Snacks to Bring
Make sure to pack more snacks than you think you will need! When we have been on the road, our kids don’t always eat much of their main meals. Having extra snacks prevents them from getting hungry.
We all know that hungry kids can equal grumpy kids. And it’s no fun to be stuck in a car with anyone who’s grumpy!
So, I suggest packing at least 2 extra snacks per child compared to how much you would normally have in that time frame if you were home. If your drive is 3 hours and normally you have one afternoon snack, I would pack 3 snacks per child.
With more snacks, you can offer variety and you will be prepared in case someone skips lunch!
You might have leftover food, but that’s better than not having enough!
Oh, and I don’t think we should encourage our kids to overeat just because we are sitting in the car! The kids don’t have to eat all the snacks that get packed, but the extra variety and meal supplements are a good plan.
Make sure to have entertainment (not necessarily screens) to help prevent boredom. We don’t want our kids to just eat snacks because they are bored. I have tons of road trip entertainment ideas here.
How to Pack Road Trip Snacks for Kids
It’s worth taking a couple of extra minutes to organize and pack your snacks ahead of time. Remember you or your front passenger may be handing snacks back to your kids!
You don’t want to mess with excessive packaging, peeling, or set up.
I like to pack the dry snacks into servings and either set them in a reusable grocery bag or you can pack a lunch box filled with snacks.
The lunch box filled with snacks works really well. Hand the box back and your child can choose a snack from it at snack time!
I like to use silicon pouches for individual food storage. Also, bento boxes can store food easily.
With your younger kids and toddlers, I love the Munchkin Snack Catcher Cups to help prevent food from spilling. You can fill these up ahead of time too.
For the items that you need to keep cold, use an insulated lunch box with a small ice pack or a soft-sided cooler depending on how many items you have.
Road Trip Snack Clean Up
After having a snack, there is likely to be a small mess. Don’t panic over a few crumbs, just plan on vacuuming or getting your car cleaned after your trip.
However, there are things to do to prevent too much debris and mess if you snack in the car.
Use a Kids Lap Tray
First, use a lap tray for your kids. These are great for snacks; it works as a table and can catch messes. These trays are good for road trips anyway as they are very versatile. They work for snacks, drawing, playing with magnetic blocks, etc.
Wipes are another necessary clean up item! Even at 2-3 years old, kids can wipe their hands and face with the wipes. That will help reduce the mess in the car. Also, when you stop, you can quickly wipe up wherever.
Bring a trash bag. This is useful for the wrappers and used wipes. Any sort of car trash can or trash bag works.
Collect the trash, then when you stop (i.e. for gas) just empty the trash. If you’re driving a long distance, bring a few trash bags with you.
What Snacks to Avoid
There are many great snack options to pack, in fact probably too many to list. However, there are a few I think you should specifically avoid!
Avoid Anything That Melts
Plan to avoid food that melts and/or becomes a sticky mess.
So, no chocolate-covered granola bars, yogurt covered pretzels or chocolate raisins. If your snack has a coating that melts, that gets on fingers and then smeared on the car!
Bring Foods Ready to Eat
Don’t plan to bring foods that require preparation right before you eat them. For example, foods that need to be heated are too tricky to have on the road.
Make sure to do any cutting, slicing, or other prep before the trip.
Choose Fruits Wisely
I love to pack fresh fruit for my kids to eat! BUT, don’t pack the juicier fruits. So, I avoid oranges, peaches, plums, nectarines, etc.
If fruits are not able to be pre-cut or aren’t bite-sized, you should skip it.
Not Too Much Sugar
And finally, don’t give sugary snacks after sugary snacks. Too much sugar can upset the tummy.
Don’t give a huge packet of gummies to a toddler. Trust me, you may just end up with GI distress. Yikes!
Have Fun on Your Trip
This is a great list of yummy and generally healthy snacks for your road trip!
I know this list and these planning ideas will help get your family on the road just a little bit easier.
Don’t forget to read my article How to Road Trip with Young Kids and Love the Journey for an in-depth list of tips and tricks for enjoying your travel with your kids!
What road trips have you taken with your little ones? I’d love to hear about them.