52 Mess-Free Kids Road Trip Snacks They Will Love
Time To Read – 9 mins
Road Trips can be a really fun part of summer if you are prepared. Have you ever been caught off guard by a longer-than-expected car ride that has your entire family regretting their decision to step foot in the car? I have! And it is so miserable for everyone! Since then, I have vowed not to be underprepared when it comes to travel snacks and activities in the car, even on a short trip to Grandma’s house. So here are our favorite travel snacks for kids.
Looking for more road trip ideas? Check out: The BEST Mess-Free, Screen-Free Activities for Kids and 9 Simple Car Organization Hacks Anyone Can Do
OTHER PINTEREST IDEAS YOU MAY HAVE SEEN THAT ARE ASKING FOR DISASTER
I have seen so many cute ideas of people organizing their kids’ snacks in compartmentalized containers and while it looks cute, can you even imagine the mess
if when that spills?! No thank you! I have come up with a few tips that will hopefully help you keep your snacking mess under control on your next road trip.
This is my FAVORITE way to pack snacks for our road trips. This felt caddy has tons of compartments and is really sturdy! I love how I can just throw in whatever snacks we have in the pantry or if I have time, I can pack Snackle Boxes for everyone in the family!
What is a good snack to take on a road trip?
There are TONS of great healthy snacks that you can take with you for your next epic road trip. But just take your kid’s ages into consideration when choosing which snacks will be too messy for them.
Some of our favorite road trip snacks are simple things you already have around the house. We love string cheese, sliced apples, beef jerky, dried fruit, hard crackers (like Wheat Thins…fewer crumbs), and fruit snacks.
We also recommend a healthy snack box alternative like DeliciousDoor that adds a lot of excitement to road trip snacking – plus you can use the box for crumbs!
The Best Foods to Keep You Awake on a Road Trip
If you’re going on a long drive, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to get sleepy. There are a few foods that can really help you remain alert! Try and choose snacks that keep your mouth busy or require some sort of concentration. Here are a few foods that are great for keeping you awake while driving:
- Sunflower Seeds require you to concentrate on getting the shells open so you can eat the seeds this helps you wake up and remain alert
- Hard candy that you can suck on for a long time
- Sour Candy gives you a sour taste in your mouth that can help you remain alert
- Protein-rich snacks such as nuts, jerky, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurt can help maintain alertness and give you sustained energy throughout the trip
- Energy drinks can be a great way to get some caffeine to give you energy
Tips for Eating While Driving
Sometimes, you just need to eat while you drive. So how can you do it safely while still keeping your eyes on the road?
First, you need to make sure that you get everything set up before you set out on the road. If you pick up food at the drive-thru, make sure to pull over and get everything situated before starting back on the road.
Second, set yourself up with some pretty cool fast food car accessories that will keep everything easily within reach.
Third, if you have someone else in the car with you, ask for help with food when you need it.
TOOLS YOU’LL NEED
Worst Foods for a Road Trip
Some of the worst foods for a road trip include sugary snacks, greasy and fried foods, processed snacks such as chips or candy bars, and acidic beverages. These types of foods can make you feel tired and sluggish and can make your car smell bad. They also don’t provide any nutritional value to keep you energized while you need to stay awake while driving.
DON’T FORGET THE DRINKS
Even though we hate making pit stops so kids can go to the bathroom, it’s even worse hearing a zillion times how thirsty they are! So don’t forget to pack a drink for every person in the car. Passing one water bottle around the car gets old quickly. Especially when they start complaining that one person ‘is drinking it all!’
You can personalize each person’s water bottle so that there is no fighting over whose water bottle is whose. Or if you don’t have time to put their names on them, at least color-code them in some way. I really don’t bring anything other than water in my car. It’s a sugary disaster waiting to happen when you bring soda or juice (unless you have leak-proof sippy cups).
Adult Road Trip Snacks
There are a lot of road trip snack options out there, but some are more suited to adults than others. Here are some great adult-friendly snacks that you can pack for your next road trip:
1. Trail mix: this is a classic snack but with a twist—try adding energizing ingredients like dried fruit, nuts, and seeds to provide long-lasting energy to fuel your journey.
2. Energy bars: these are great for a quick pick-me-up and can be packed easily.
3. Jerky: this is low in fat, high in protein, and delicious! It is perfect for snacking on while driving and will keep you full without feeling weighed down.
4. Fruit: it’s easier for adults to eat than children and can provide natural energy and vitamins to keep you energized.
5. Popcorn: this is a great snack that can be made in large batches so it’s perfect for sharing during the road trip.
SHOP ROAD TRIP SNACKS
How do you organize snacks on a road trip?
That’s a great question! There are a few different ways to do it. You could pre-package all of the snacks into individual bags or containers, that way everyone can just help themselves. Or, you could put all the snacks in one big container and have everyone take turns picking what they want. Personally, I like to prepackage the snacks and give each child their own set of snacks.
What to Buy to Keep You Organized
Keeping kids’ road trip drinks and snacks clean and organized isn’t difficult. All you need is the right car accessories and tools. Here are some of our favorite things to use when we are on long family road trips:
- 200 Pack of Small Plastic Bags – to portion out Snacks
- Sterilite Clip-Box Storage Bins – these are sturdy, and they fit under the seat!
- Leak-Proof Auto-seal Waterbottles for Kids (2-Pack!)
- Leak-Proof Straw Waterbottle for Kids
- Cup Catcher – perfect for kids who always drop their cups!
SHOP ROAD TRIP GADGETS
7 Tips for Mess-Free Road Trips Snacks
#1. No Crumbs: Because I really try to keep my car as mess-free as possible, I really try to get snacks that don’t have any crumbs. Most likely food will be spilled and it always makes it so much worse when everyone’s stuff is piled at the bottom of the car floor and everyone steps on those goldfish crackers.
#2. Have Pre-Portioned Snack Bags: I try not to be a control freak, but sometimes I am. One thing I really try to keep under control with my kids is candy consumption. I hate it when my kids are hyper because of too much sugar and besides, it just plain isn’t healthy for you. But I am also not the type to restrict my kids to a sugar-free diet – because candy is delicious!
So I try to stay in the middle of the road by portioning out how much they can have. This is a super handy way to divvy out snacks in the car. It also helps control the clutter in the car. Here are the snack bags that I used in this post. They are the perfect size for little kids. It takes a few extra minutes to fill the bags before your trip but it’s super easy and it gives some variety to the trip between rest stops.
#3 Have a Garbage Can Just for the Kids: Snacks always have wrappers or bags of some sort and if you don’t have a trash can readily available kids usually end up just throwing it on the floor (at least mine do!) 🙁 We are still working on that apparently.
#4 Keep the Snacks with You: Depending on the age of your kids, if you give them free rein of the snacks, they will be gone within minutes. This leaves you with no ammo for the remainder of the trip! Hand the snacks out slowly between potty breaks.
#5 Let the Kids Help Pick out Snacks: Decide ahead of time what your car rules are (ex: no crumbs, or no chocolate) and let the kids help out with what snacks they get in the car. This makes the trip more exciting and something they can look forward to.
#6 Keep Snack Organized in Bins: Doing this will significantly help you to keep everything organized and in one place. The bins that I use in this post are the best possible bins that I have seen for use in the car. The lid stays on perfectly, they are sturdy and they are short enough to fit under seats.
#7 Check the Bulk Bins: Don’t forget to check the Bulk Bins at your local grocery store. Oftentimes the food is cheaper and there is a big variety of foods that are perfect for this type of situation.
Mess-Free Road Trip Snack Ideas
As beloved as Goldfish Crackers are among kids, that is one thing that I prefer not to take in my car. I really make an effort to leave the messy snacks at home (think ground-up Goldfish Crackers in the carpet of the car).
While I’m not always perfect, I have tried to compile a list of snacks that make a minimal mess. You’ll have to be the one to determine what road trip snacks your kids can handle.
Make sure to bring along a cooler if you are bringing road trip snacks that are not shelf-stable. A cooler can be great for keeping drinks cold as well as healthy snacks such as cheese and fruit. Remember to pack road trip snacks that adults like, too! I swear I always need food to help me stay awake. So car snacks are a must-have for the kids and the adults alike in our family. The best road trip snacks appeal to the whole family.
So what are some good snack options for the car? Here are some of our favorite road trip snacks:
Not-So-Healthy Road Trip Snacks
Trail mix is an excellent option for road-tripping because it has just the right amount of sweet and salty. It curbs your sweet tooth while also giving you a bit of energy from the protein.
Chocolate Covered Almonds
These are fantastic snacks for your trip as long as you make sure not to leave them in a hot car. They are the perfect mix of sweet and salty as well!
Gummy bears a the perfect snack for road trippers because they don’t leave any crumbs! They are a perfect sweet treat.
Jelly beans are also great because they don’t have crumbs and they don’t melt. These are not healthy by any means but who says that every road trip snack needs to be?
Rice Krispy Treats
These are an excellent snack that is generally low-calorie and mess-free! You may experience slightly sticky fingers but those can be easily wiped off with a wipe.
Fruit leather is a great space-saving road trip food. In fact, you can easily keep fruit leather in your car at all times when you’re in need of a quick energy boost. They store well and don’t make a mess.
Just like gummy bears, fruit snacks are a great thing to pick up at gas stations all along the way on your trip. Many of them are even gluten-free and kids love these.
Protein bars are a great source of healthy fats and energy that can keep you energized for your long trip. They are the perfect snack! Energy bars are fantastic as well.
Granola bars, like protein bars, are great when you’re hungry in a pinch, but they can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike.
Dark Chocolate Chips
These may be best saved for when you’re road-tripping in cooler temperatures because nobody wants to find melted chocolate chips on the floor of the car. But dark chocolate is a great snack to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. Just make sure not to eat the whole bag!
While potato chips can get messy, they are a great way to curb your road trip cravings. It’s fun to see what new types of chips you can try as you progress on your road trip. Every gas station has a chip aisle, so why not try a new flavor?
Healthy Road Trip Snacks
We tend to eat less healthily when we’re on the road, and most of the time the best road trip snacks are the healthy ones! Taking some time to cup up some fresh fruit can make all the difference in how you feel on a vacation.
Cantaloupe is a great snack for your trip because it stores well and doesn’t go bad easily.
Pineapple is a great snack that can be served either fresh or canned. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, and it tastes amazing.
Grapes are a staple snack for road trips and they are a healthy alternative when you’re craving something sweet.
Blueberries are full of antioxidants and fiber, making them a great snack for the road. Plus, their sweet taste makes them really tasty!
Strawberries, although delicious, can be a bit more temperamental when it comes to keeping them cold so they don’t keep as long.
Raspberries are a great snack to take on the road. They are full of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, making them an excellent choice.
Bananas are a great option because they don’t have to be refrigerated and they are a great healthy option.
If you’re looking for a crunchy snack, celery is a great option. Especially if you buy the Jiff To Go Snack Cups to dip your celery into. The perfect snack for on the road.
Candy is great-tasting snack, but if you’re looking for something to eat on the go that is a bit more nutritious, baby carrots are the picture of healthy. They’re especially delicious dipped in ranch dressing.
Cheese Sticks or Cheese Cubes
If you’re already planning on packing snacks that need to be refrigerated, why not pack some cheese sticks or string cheese? They’re healthy and filling!
These are some of our very favorite snacks but they also need to be refrigerated.
A simple snack to prepare for your road trip is to cut up a few apples, sprinkle on some lemon juice (to keep them from browning), and then pack some peanut butter to dip them into. Delicious!
This is a super simple snack to prepare because all it takes is opening up a can of olives and putting it into a small Tupperware. Very little prep time and loved by all ages.
Apple Sauce Pouches
These are a no-brainer snack for on-the-go. Apple sauce pouches don’t require any prep or refrigeration and they are perfect for kids or adults.
Popcorn (this one is obviously going to be pretty messy, no matter the age!)
These are a unique type of chip that is extremely delicious. Bagel chips are especially great if you dip them in cream cheese!
Hard Boiled Eggs
These can be difficult to keep cold but they are a great low calorie option for on the go.
I love to pack protein powder into Ziploc bags so I can easily add it to a cup of water, and mix it up and I’ve got tons of energy to continue on whatever adventure we’re headed to next.
Dehydrated Snack Ideas
Dehydrated fruit is one of the best road trip snacks you can bring. They don’t melt, they rarely have lots of crumbs and they are a healthier alternative. There are a huge variety of dehydrated snacks that you can buy at the grocery store or even at the gas station.
- Sweet Potato Chips
- Dried Mangos
- Dried Blueberries
- Craisins (dried cranberries)
- Dried Strawberries
- Coconut Chips
- Dried Apples
- Dried Peaches
- Dried Apricots
- Dried Bananas
- Dried Plums
- Dried Pineapple
Salty Snack Ideas
One of the most classic snacks on the road, it’s healthy and it doesn’t make a big mess! It’s great for normal eating when you’re at home too!
You can even try out these turkey jerky sticks that have high-quality ingredients with no additives.
Nuts are a fantastic healthy snack on the road. They keep well and they are
- Pistachios (make sure to give them a bag to put shells in!)
- Macadamia Nuts
While seeds may be a bit messier than other snacks mentioned here, they are a fantastic superfood that is packed with nutrients and energy when you need it most.
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
Chickpeas are a wonderful and healthy snack that you can make ahead of time or buy pre-made. They are crunchy and delicious!
This is a unique food item that many may not have tried before, but edamame is delicious! Try this fun new snack to step out of your comfort zone.
Saltine crackers are a great option if you’re looking for something to satisfy your crunchy snack cravings. They are perfect for people who tend to get car sick as well.
I hope I was able to give you some ideas or inspiration for your next road trip with your kids! What are some of your best tips for traveling with kids?
Great list! Thank you! I have 4 kids (ages 13, 10, 7, and 3) and I was looking for new snack ideas for an upcoming road trip. I almost bought goldfish crackers… then you reminded me about ground up goldfish on the floor of the van… yuck.
I just wanted to say that Red Vines licorice is always in our travel snacks bag. 😋
Great list with some really good ideas! The only one I have to disagree with is applesauce pouches not being messy. With adults and older kids, most likely, but I can attest from experience that cleaning applesauce out of car seat harness buckles is a really annoying chore!