Healthy Snack Ideas for Road Trips with Kids

Family road trips are practically an American institution. But when the miles stretch endlessly ahead and your kids are screaming that they’re bored or hungry, you might question your decision not to fly instead. Something that adds a little life to a stir-crazy carload is bringing out treats for everyone. Of course you don’t want to just hand out any old treats, and unfortunately that’s what you find in the travel stops. You’re trying to eat healthy, and the last thing your kids need is extra sugar and refined carbs to make them that much more crazy. So how can you provide healthy snacks for your kids as you travel?

Bring Plenty of Water

Give everyone their own water bottle, and carry enough extra along that you can refill the bottles when the car is stopped. Water quenches thirst like nothing else does, and it doesn’t encourage the extra sipping and resulting potty stops that sugary drinks do. It doesn’t stain if it spills. Best of all, it costs next to nothing.

Think Fruits and Veggies

Bring along a cooler that you can put in an easy-access spot, and pack it full of your favorite munchy veggies and fruits. Do any necessary rinsing, cutting and trimming ahead of time if you can. Think of grapes, sliced apples, baby carrots, easy-peel oranges, and cherry tomatoes. Or indulge in fresh berries or pineapple chunks. You can also make “ants on a log” by stuffing celery sticks with natural peanut butter and some raisins on top. Dried fruits and fruit leathers make good snacks as well. You can buy them premade, or make your own. Steer away from the ones laden with extra sugar; your healthy snacks won’t be so healthy with extra sweetener.

Don’t Forget Proteins

Proteins alleviate those hunger pangs, so include some healthy proteins with your snack stash. Unsalted nuts are fun to eat, and aren’t too hard to pick up if spilled. Low-fat string cheese, besides being delicious and full of calcium, provides extra entertainment value as your kids pull off and eat individual strings. Some older kids like jerky, and there are other options out there besides beef.

Healthy Carbs

if you’re trying to feed your kids healthy snacks, you’ll want to stay away from the cookies and chips. But there are still some whole grain treats you can whip out for them. Consider whole grain crackers; you can even provide low-fat cheese slices to put on top. Rice cakes are something else your kids might enjoy, but be sure to read labels and make sure you aren’t picking up a package with extra sugar and fat. You can spread natural peanut butter on rice cakes for a protein boost. Whole grain cereals are also healthy options; just eat handfuls from the box or make individual packets ahead of time.

Trail mix is another popular carb-protein combo. Look for or make trail mixes with whole grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruit. It’s best to avoid the mixes with candies in them; even that small amount can encourage kids to wolf down the trail mix and avoid the other snacks.

Car rides with kids don’t have to be the end of the road when it comes to healthy eating. With a little forethought, you can provide plenty of wholesome food for your family as you travel—and you won’t have to worry about the effects of extra sugar and fats on their growing bodies.

About the Author

Author Sandy Landsford is an accountant and blogs for, a site where you can compare car insurance rates.