Road Trip Food List Ideas and Easy Snacks for Travel

Are you planning a road trip? Planning is key to success on the road, and part of that is packing good food and snacks. Check out our road trip food list and what we pack when we head out on the road.

When planning your road trip food list you want food that is healthy, convenient and easy to eat on the road. Food that is portable, can be kept in a cooler, or not-refrigerated items work best. We go into detail for the best foods for a road trip and what you should pack.

Road trips are one of our favorite ways to see new places and experience awesome family vacation moments. There is always something unexpected and exciting about planning a road trip vacation with kids.

For a long road trip it is a good idea to pack make-ahead meals that the whole family will like.

We always put together a road trip food list for our trip to make sure we have all the snacks and food we need on the road.

road trip food from ny to fl

Why Have a Road Trip Food List

Part of the fun of a road trip is stopping at fast food spots or a gas station to enjoy junk food right? Well…sort of!

I’ve learned after many road trips with the kids that it is better in the long run to pack your meals, snacks, and treats to prevent any unforeseen sickness or stops.

I like to balance healthy snacks with road trip snacks that I know my kids like.

Often fast food is greasy and doesn’t sit well during long car rides and this can make the trip not fun at all.

Also packing road trip food allows you to be more prepared and have less stops. This means you will arrive at your destination even quicker.

If it is a long trip, I prefer to stop at the grocery store to pick up our own food before we even hit the road.

We like to maximize our driving times and prefer to save our stops for fuel and restroom breaks. If you have a full day of driving 8-10+ hours you may want to pick one meal to get out of your car to stretch at a rest stop.

food list for road trips.

Road Trip Food List: Non-Food Items

Before you decide what food to bring on a road trip you need to have a place to put them all. You want storage for your non-cold items like pretzels and dry cereal. I have a day trip bag that I use whenever we are in the car.

You also want to pack a cooler for the items that need to stay cool as well as drinks. You will need ice packs and be sure everything is located where you can have easy access as you are driving.

After food storage it is a great idea to think about containers and cleaning supplies. I always bring a few essential items for our road trip. This may be an upfront extra cost but it will save you on the road.

They are:

  • napkins/paper towels/wipes
  • Cups to distribute snacks. We pick them up the character ones from the dollar store but any cup will work. It is helpful if it fits in a cup holder to prevent spills.
  • water bottles
  • A large bag to carry everything. We like the CleverMade Snap Baskets.
  • A cooler to store items. Check out the CleverMade Collapsible Cooler
  • If you have little kids you may want to pack towels to keep your car seats clean.

Related Post: 10 Family Road Trip Essentials for an Amazing Trip

How Do You Pack Meals for a Road Trip

If you are spending an entire day driving you will probably have to pack meals for your road trip. You can do this a few ways. Pack all 3 meals and don’t include any stops for food.

We find the best way is to pack breakfast and lunch. Some road trip lunch ideas are cheese and crackers paired with carrotts and fruit. Sub sandwiches have been a favorite road trip lunch lately.

For dinner we like to stop for an hour to eat and stretch. After a long drive this allows us to recharge and we end up driving more.

It breaks up the day and it really helps with everyone’s energy for the long car ride.

When planning meals on the road I like to keep it simple, easy, and not messy. I involve the kids the week before with meal planning and making a shopping list for our trip.

We all pick out a few favorite healthy items as well as a few treats for the road. This may mean fruit cups and potato chips. The goal is to keep everyone happy!

Road Trip Food Ideas: Breakfast

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to plan on a road trip because a lot of it is grab and go. We can easily pack breakfast items that everyone likes.

  • Dry Cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Cereal bars
  • Bananas/Apples
  • Pre-made fresh fruit salad.
  • Pre-made egg/cheese sandwiches. Make at home, wrap in foil, eat within 1-2 hours.
  • Bagel with cream cheese.
  • Pre-made oatmeal in a hot thermos.

Road Trip Food Ideas: Lunch & Dinner

Lunch and dinner can be a bit more difficult than breakfast but when on the road it is best to keep it light. Save your big meals for your destinations. These lunches may need a bit of prep at home but they will keep you satisfied while on the road.

  • Pasta Salad
  • Cheese Plate
  • Deli Sandwich on Pretzel Bun
  • Cut up chicken and vegetables
  • Fruit salad
  • Cold pizza
  • Premade Salad
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Road Trip Food Items: Snacks

Snacks are the best part about a road trip and these are some of our favorite picks. Always consider the age of your kids and if any of the items may be a choking hazard. These are some of the best road trip snacks:

  • String Cheese
  • Almonds
  • Trail Mix
  • Peanut Butter and Pretzels
  • Cream Cheese and Crackers
  • Cut Up Veggies (Peppers, Celery, Carrots) and Hummus
  • Apple Slices
  • Grapes
  • lollipops
  • Twizzlers
  • GoGoSqueez
  • GoGurts
  • Popcorn
  • Protein Bars
  • Veggie Straws
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Goldfish

My favorite road trip snacks are the ones that make minimal mess and keep everyone happy and full between meals.

Road Trip Food to Avoid

We’ve talked about foods to eat on a road trip but what can you not eat on a road trip? I avoid anything that can be really messy or greasy. The last thing you want is a sick family member on a long drive.

  • Fast food- Avoid greasy and fried items.
  • Anything that needs utensils: Yogurts & Fruit Cups.
  • Any cracker that seems to explode or make crumbs easily!
  • Donuts and pastries. We have learned the hard way that an early morning sweet combined with driving can lead to motion sickness and throwing up. We now save the treats for once we arrive at our destination.
  • Juice or sugary drinks. I find drinks like this always upset stomachs on the road and it is better to stick with water. It also cuts down on bathroom stops.

Road Trip Food Tips with Kids

Let your kids be part of the planning. This will help avoid meltdowns on the road. A great option to help them in the planning is to ask them what their favorite snacks are.

Use a lunch box from home to keep everyone’s meals organized and put together. It is easier to pass out lunch when it is all prepacked.

Consider the age of your kids and how much mess they may make while eating in the car. When the kids were small I kept a beach towel under their car seats. That way if things got really messy I could remove the towel, wash it, and put it back; the car stayed clean.

Keep a garbage bag in the kids seating area. We drive a van and have a garbage bag in the front with us as well as in the third row. Empty it often during road trips!

A surprise treat can change the mood in the car when things start to feel exhausting.

Road trips can be the ultimate family vacation and we hope these road trip food ideas will help you enjoy your time on the road.

Are You Planning a Road Trip? Check out these great posts!

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