Just like the first explorers, many load up into their cars each year for the Great American Road Trip. Lewis and Clark did it. Ford and Edison did it. Jack Kerouac did it. It’s part of our culture. Hitting the open road just soothes our yearnings for discovery. Though to do well that you need the best road trip snacks for kids.
Road trip snacks are as important as a paper map. Since my kids have road trip snack opinions I take them shopping. That’s when it gets fun. I say yes to most things since it’s a treat just for our road trip. But chocolate usually gets vetoed since it’s not hot car friendly.
Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids
I could tell you I pack the most nutritious items that I can find. But Mom needs a break too. I want to be the Fun Mom for our road trip. So I pack all the fun snacks, just for vacation. We’ll go back on the good-for-you wagon when we get home. Promise.
The Classic Road Trip Snacks
- Beef Jerky
- Cracker Jacks
- Moon pies
- Corn nuts
- Slurpees (Remember free 7/11 is Free Slurpee Day)
Road Tripping Protein
Sometimes I’m in the middle of a desert and I can’t find a place to eat.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Yogurt. Don’t forget the spoons or get the tubes.
- Breakfast in a Pouch, a combination of nuts and fruit in a single-serve pouch
- Flavored almonds, sweet or salty
- Nut butters, peanut, almond or cashew
- Pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Best Bars for Road Trips
Bars are a must. Stash a few in console compartment, just in case.
- Protein bars
- Granola bars
- Cereal bars
- Fig Newtons
Fruit Snacks for Road Trips
Kids love fruit but most fresh fruit doesn’t travel well. It really needs a cooler or to be eaten on the first day.
- A banana or two. Not too many because they bruise.
- Mandarin oranges or Cuties
- Fresh Cherries
- Fruit leather
- Freeze-dried fruit– Apples and pears seem to be the winners here.
- Applesauce pouches
- Yogurt-covered raisins
- Dried cherries or apricots
- Bagged fruit snacks
A good source of protein and travels well if individually wrapped. Put cheese in a cooler during the summer.
- String cheese
- Laughing Cow
- Individually packaged pieces of cheddar or Colby.
I stay away from any snacks that will cover my SUV in cheesy fingerprints.
- Cracker sandwiches. I get the variety pack to keep everyone happy.
- Gold Fish
- Popped popcorn
- Chex Mix
- Bagel chips
- Potato chips
- Pita chips
Just for Fun Sweet Treats
- Cookies, a couple of varieties.
- Rice Crispy Treats
- Graham crackers
- Gummy anything
- Animal crackers
- Trail Mix
- Muddy Buddies Mix
Road Trip Snack Bag Must Haves
- Paper towels
- Wet wipes
- Disposable silverware
- Ziploc bags, quarts and gallon size
- Clothes pins or Chip Clips
- Refillable water bottles
Snacks for Mom
I do the majority of the driving on our road trips so I have my own snacks in the front seat since my kids will eat everything within their reach.
- Sweet and salty nuts
- Good crackers
- Bean Chips, like the SnapPeas Crisps
- Good Cheese
- Bottled cold coffee drinks
- Canned sparkling water
- Sweet tarts or other really tart candy
I also pack treats that wake up my mouth so I can stay alert. After a few hours on the road I like to chew gum. I have a roll of Sweet Tarts or other candy that’s really tart. I alternate unsweet ice tea or iced coffee and sparkling water.
What About Dad?
Dads want a break from the daily obligations of parenting too. So let him eat junk, just for the trip.
- Pork Rinds
- Pistachios, just give him something for the shells
- Sunflower seeds, same
- Gas station hotdog
- Slim Jim
- Hot Fries
- Hostess Cupcakes
- Fried Pies
Tips for Road Trip Snacking
First off, I make it easy and fun. I forget about the cute containers I saw on Pinterest. Let’s get real, what am I supposed to do with all those containers on the second day of our trip?
I skip the plastic containers and especially the glass Mason jars. I buy individual serving sizes so I grab all the trash from the back seat when I stop for gas. Don’t think I’m the only one with messy kids.
Then I load everything up in one of my reusable shopping bags. Since it’s soft-sided, I can stash the bag in another place if needed.
Since it’s vacation my kids get what they want, except for chocolate, a giant barrel of cheez balls and Capri Suns. The chocolate and the cheez balls for obvious messy reasons.
Let me tell you a story from the summer of 2010, a Capri Sun gunfight broke out in the backseat of my Toyota 4 Runner. I didn’t know that my boys could turn drink pouches into sticky sweet weapons. They did and they had a great time. Now Capri Suns are permanently banned from my SUV.
The snack bag is another passenger and has its own spot in the the back seat .My oldest is in charge of the snack bag in route. As the driver I need to stay focused on driving. That and I don’t have time for any snack squabbles that break out.
I really have two snack bags. One with the kids and one hidden in the back of the SUV. I use as it as back stock. If if give all the snacks to my kids at once, they would eat everything like a pack of puppies.