Don't let hunger pangs prevent you from traveling the full distance! Load your car with healthy snacks and non-perishable food that'll last the whole ride
Bikini bodies may be the goal of summer, but the trip to warm-weather destinations and beach days ahead can sometimes be full of fast food stops and mindless handfuls of potato chips (hey, we’ve all been there).
There is a way to keep your diet on track on the road. Instead of counting on rest stops (is there anything healthy here?) to fuel your ride, pack your snacks the way nutritionists do. Our guide to road trip snacks will fill you up (the good way!) no matter how long of a trip you have ahead. Don’t forget plenty of water! (Try one of 8 Infused Water Recipes to Upgrade Your H2O.)
A Quick Getaway (2- to 3-Hour Drive)
When your destination is only a couple of hours away door to door, you don’t have to worry about meal prep for the road or spoilage—which is great news for easy, packable snacks. Joy Bauer, R.D., nutrition and health expert for TODAY, and founder of NOURISH snacks suggests doing double-duty with your food choices: a snack to conquer every craving—from salty and sweet to chewy and crunchy. “Keep your snacks in individual bags to prevent over-eating,” she adds. We love Sweet & Salty KAPOW mix by NOURISH Snacks ($10 for a five pack; nourishsnacks.com). The 180-calorie snack pack pairs tart sweet cherries with protein-packed roasted edamame—it tastes great and kicks hunger to the curb!
For some DIY options, throw together your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and maybe even some chocolate chips to create your own trail mix. Looking for a twist on a standard snack? Spice up homemade popcorn with toppings from your pantry, like fresh herbs, olive oil, and a little bit of grated parmesan; or coconut flakes, chocolate chips, and sea salt. (Psst! Try one of these Healthy Popcorn Recipes with Tricked-Out Toppings.)
A Highway Haul (5- to 6-Hour Drive)
Slightly longer trips require slightly more sustenance to avoid mindless eating. You’ll want to focus on protein in order to quiet those pangs of hunger in the later hours of your drive. So what’s your best plan of action? The day before your trip put some grapes in the freezer, recommends Bauer. Hydrating and filled with fiber, grapes pack a lot of nutrition into a tiny, pop-in-your-mouth snack. Plus, they’ll help to keep your other foods cold as well!
Another option: Spread a layer of peanut butter at the bottom of a mason jar and stack celery sticks or apple slices on top. Use jicama sticks and hummus for a twist on the old classic. Try: Hope Foods Hummus ($5; wholefoods.com), which uses olive oil rather than vegetable oil, suggests Kate Weiler, certified Holistic Health Coach and founder of drinkMAPLE water.
Finally, when hunger really hits, have whole grain tortilla wraps filled with sliced turkey and that same hummus at the ready. Bring along some avocado and hot sauce to add right before you eat. The avocado brings a good dose of healthy fat and makes the meal more filling, while hot sauce adds a serious low-cal flavor boost. Store everything in a small cooler.
A Real Road Trip (8- to 10-Hour Drive)
Since most ice packs won’t stay cold for a trip of this length, it can be a challenge to keep real unprocessed food with you, says Weiler. That’s why for lengthy trips, you should pack real foods that don’t need the fridge to survive. Your options? Kale chips are a great choice, recommends Weiler. Go for a DIY version before you leave (we love this recipe). Or give Brad’s Raw Chips ($7; bradsrawchips.com) a try. They’re super-healthy, but still satisfy those crunchy and salty hankerings.
If kale chips just aren't giving you the energy boost you need, give turkey jerky a shot. It's a relatively low-cal snack that's absolutely packed with protein, so it'll fill you up and keep you focused for the hours to come. We're crazy about KRAVE ($7; kravejerky.com) because it's got all kinds of exciting, zesty flavors to try out.
An almond butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread is also easy to eat and provides enough protein to give you lasting power, says Bauer.
For something to conquer that unbearable sweet craving in the wee hours of the drive (don’t those billboards with frothy milkshakes just look so good?), opt for a frozen yogurt stop instead. A small cup topped with fresh fruit and chopped nuts will satisfy any sweet tooth, all for only 150 to 200 calories, adds Bauer. (For more light bite ideas, try one or more of these 20 Sweet and Salty Snacks Under 200 Calories.)