No matter how you choose to travel, having the right snack on hand when you get the hungry is important. Look no further than this one healthy snack that works every single time.
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Summer is basically made for long weekends and fun travel plans. But all those miles on the road or in the air means time away from home, and away from your usual healthy eating routine. And let's face it, you're probably going to get hungry when there are 40 miles between you and the next rest stop. That's where on-the-go snacks come in. And surely you've tried them all—celery and carrots (boring), chips and cookies (stomachache), yogurt (yuck, warm yogurt!). But what if there were one ultimate, best-of-the-best, healthy travel snack that not only was safe to eat during hauls but also would satisfy all kinds of cravings—crunchy, sweet, salty. Plus what if it were simple to pack without getting smooshed at the bottom of your bag?
Well, this unicorn of healthy travel snacks does exist, and it's trail mix.
Now before you roll your eyes thinking this is such a basic snack idea, think about all the reasons trail mix actually meets all the criteria for the best healthy travel snack.
#1 It's customizable.
Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to trail mix and all its endless varieties. Whether you want salty, sweet, savory, spicy, or a combination, the mix of flavors and ingredients is up to you.
- Salty: Sesame sticks + roasted edamame + candied ginger + dried apples
- Tropical: Brazil nuts + walnuts + dried mango + dried papaya + dried plantains or banana
- Sweet: Anything crunchy (cashews, almonds) + dark chocolate or coconut flakes
- Spicy: Wasabi peas or spicy edamame
- Savory: Garlic and rosemary roasted chickpeas + whole wheat crackers
Customizing your own mix means you won't be left picking out the bits you don't want. And you can design a mix that actually gives you what your body needs: protein, healthy fats, and fiber. That sure beats dumping M&M's and honey-roasted peanuts into a zip-top bag. (Get some fun ideas with these healthy homemade trail mix recipes.)
#2 It's nutritionally rich.
Whether you choose a traditional mix with nuts and seeds or branch out into roasted chickpeas and edamame, these base ingredients are packed with protein and fiber to provide sustainable energy. That'll help prevent the blood sugar spikes and crashes that come with bags of pretzels, chips, or candy on their own. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pistachios, and seeds such as hemp, sunflower, and pumpkin provide healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, and vitamin E. Look for raw, unsalted, or lightly salted and unsweetened nuts to help reduce calories from roasting in oil and overall sodium and sugar intake. (Discover more healthy ways to enjoy nuts.)
Dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, mangoes, and apricots are the other important element to your mix because they provide fiber, carbs, and vitamins and minerals such as potassium and vitamins A and C.
One thing to keep in mind: While trail mix can be filled with healthy, nutritional ingredients, some of those add-ins can, well, add in a lot of extra calories. That can be fine if you're coming back from a tough HIIT class, but if you're just sitting around on a five-hour flight, you're going to want to keep your scoops to about 1/2 cup.
#3 It travels well.
While all of the other benefits mentioned are great, none of it really matters if you can't take all that good stuff with you, right? This is exactly why trail mix takes home the gold for the truly ultimate healthy travel snack. Everything is dry, which means it doesn't need to be refrigerated and can last even until you're on your way back home. It's super transportable and can be shaken into your palm out of a mason jar, grabbed with one hand out of a plastic sandwich bag, or even turned into trail mix bark with just a little creativity.