One of the hardest parts of packing for a road trip is coming up with road trip food and meals to have on the way. While you can plot out places to stop, fast food day in and day out on the road is not ideal.
Not to mention gas station food. Somewhere between the beef stick, greasy hot dog, and bags of salty snacks, I start to get really grossed out. And if you are gluten-free, vegan, or have dietary restrictions or allergies, this can be even harder!
It is not only unhealthy to eat like this for multiple meals over several days, but it is also expensive. And costs you time.
Plus, if you are on a road trip in somewhere like Arches National Park, you won't have the option of stopping somewhere for lunch inside the park. You will have to bring your own.
But if you plan ahead with your road trip foods, and pre-make some road trip meals and snacks, you can definitely keep your family well-fed on the road. You can actually premake, plan and organize (also important) road trip breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.
And, if you are vegan or gluten-free or in need of road trip snacks for toddlers, don't worry! I haven't forgotten you. I also include a helpful list of road trip foods to make your road trip meal planning easy too!
Here is the ultimate road trip food list you will love!
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Why Bring Your Own Road Trip Foods
If you are wondering what food is good for road trips, and what are the best snacks for road trips, you have come to the right place!
Before we get to the road trip food list, let's quickly look at why you should bring your own or make-ahead road trip meals and snacks on your trip. Yes, it is way easier and more convenient to buy it along the way.
But, keep this in mind:
- Your own make-ahead road trip meals and snacks are healthier.
- Bringing your own road trip food saves you a lot of money.
- Choosing in advance assures everyone has something they can and will eat.
- Having your own road trip food limits stops or having to surrender to what is available at the time you are stopping.
- It is easy to pull over at a rest stop with a picnic table and eat or have in your hotel room, RV, or even in the car.
- You can easily answer the “what's for breakfast, lunch, dinner” question with your already planned, make-ahead road trip meals.
- Road trip snacks can keep kids full between meals and busy in between road trip activities.
- You can bring road trip food whether you are on a family road trip with a cooler, going camping, or traveling in an RV with a kitchen like the Forest River Cedar Creek 38RTH (it has a kitchen with an island!). But no matter how you travel, there are road trip foods and meals for every mode of transportation.
The Reality and Practicality of Road Trip Food
Now, let's be real. It isn't possible for all of the road trip food you bring to be homemade, especially if say you are going on a 10-day Midwest road trip.
That's a long time and a lot of food to pack for a road trip. There are many easy things that can serve as healthy road trip meals that can be purchased.
And, it is both practical and easier to include nonperishable road trip food with some of your make-ahead meals. It is also part of the fun to eat out while on a vacation.
But it is still healthier and easier when you control what you are bringing overall. And when you plan ahead, as opposed to being left with whatever is available on the road, you can save time and money, and eat better.
So here are the best road trip foods for traveling and some of my best tips!
Road Trip Breakfast Meal Ideas
If you are wondering, “What should I eat for a long car drive?” remember to include breakfast on your road trip food list. You need the energy to drive all that way, and driving on an empty tank – literally and figuratively – won't work for a long car journey.
Breakfast is an important part of our morning routine. But because of the times of our departure, we don't usually eat before we hit the road. And, sometimes we leave before our hotel offers breakfast.
Having road trip breakfast ideas that are portable and easy to eat in the car is very important for the success of our road trips. For this reason, things that are either nonperishable or easy to hold (like breakfast sandwiches, muffins, etc.) are the best for this important meal.
Nonperishable Road Trip Breakfast Ideas
Cold Grab and Go Road Trip Breakfast Ideas
- Biscuit Muffins
- Croissant (ham and cheese or even chocolate)
- Bagels and Peanut Butter
- Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
- Overnight Oats
- Chia Pudding
- Homemade Granola
- Cornflakes Cereal Granola
- Instant Oatmeal
- Homemade Peanut Butter and Jelly Breakfast Bars
- Healthy Banana Pikelets (Baby Pancakes)
- English Muffin and Peanut Butter
- Fresh Fruit (use sturdier fruit that won't get too mushy, like apples)
- Yogurt Pouches/Gogurt and Fruit
- Boiled Eggs
- Premade Yogurt and Granola Parfaits
- Mediterranean Breakfast Burrito
- Broccoli and Cheese Breakfast Muffins
- Keto Ham and Cheese Fritatta Muffins
- Bagel and Cream Cheese
- Egg, Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
- Quiche Florentine
Road Trip Lunch Meal Ideas
Lunches and dinners can be somewhat interchangeable on the road. But I will separate them here in the more traditional sense.
Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Lunch Ideas
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
- Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches or Wrap
- Energy Bars
Cold Grab And Go Lunch Ideas
- Charcuterie Box of Cold Cuts, Cheese, Hummus, and Fruit
- Quinoa (I love it greek salad style)
- Turkey or Ham and Cheese Pita
- Avocado Toast
- Creamcheese and Cucumber roll up (or sandwich)
- Cold Pizza
- Pasta Salad
- Premade Salad In A Jar
- Chicken Salad Wraps
- Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups/Pinwheels (great for toddlers)
- Beef Bacon, Lettuce Avocado and Tomato Lettuce Wrap
Road Trip Dinner Meal Ideas
For dinner on the road, you can likely have the same things that you had for lunch. But surely your family will thank you if you mix it up a bit! Here are some great road trip dinner ideas that can be served cold.
Cold Grab and Go Dinner Ideas
- Cold Burrito (if you don't mind it that way)
- Southwest Crispy Chicken Wrap
- Pizza Cupcakes
- Pesto Chicken Wraps
- Cold Pizza
- Low Carb Turkey Club Wrap
- Pasta Salad
- Salad In A Jar (use a plastic mason jar)
- Hummus and Veggie Pita or Wrap (I love hummus, beets and feta).
- Greek Salad Chicken Wrap
Road Trip Snacks For Kids and Adults
What is a road trip without ongoing snacking? Our family is notorious for lots of car snacking, and this is probably one of my favorite tips for taking road trips.
It keeps the “hangry” monsters at bay and can help get you to your next destination in peace.
If you are wondering what is the most popular road trip snack, or what are good snacks for a long car ride, this depends a bit on what you like. But we like to choose things that are easy to grab or make at home, easy to eat, and easy to pack road trip snacks.
Things like beef jerky, cheese and crackers, energy bars, energy balls, and Gogurts have protein, so they will keep you full in between meals. We also like to include some snackable fresh fruits and vegetables to attempt to keep our family healthy while traveling, like carrots, apples, and bananas. Even muffins with vegetables in them, like carrot or zucchini muffins, are – in my opinion, the most popular road trip snack for toddlers and kids.
Now, aside from snacks you make on your own, I am a huge fan of single-serving road trip snacks for kids to take on the road trip. It makes road trip packing easier for you. And, it also helps the kids to access them independently.
If you are taking a road trip with a toddler, they will definitely need to snack a lot. So, I also included a list of road trip snacks for toddlers here as well.
Grab and Go Road Trip Snack Ideas
- Homemade Granola Bars (or Store-Bought)
- Energy Balls
- Store-Bought Energy Bars (I like Lara Bars for adults and Kids)
- Homemade Raw Energy Bars
- Single Serving Snacks Like Pretzels, Chips, Goldfish
- Snack Mixes Like Traditional Chex Mix
- Peanut Butter Maple Snack Mix
- Apple Pie Chex Mix
- Hummus (in Cooler)
- String Cheese
- Cheese and Crackers (in Cooler)
- Single Serving Nuts/Seeds (I love Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds)
- Mini Almond Butter Packs and Banana
- Dried Chickpeas
- Plantain Chips
- Trail Mix
- Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
- Homemade Chocolate Coffee Granola
- Homemade Traditional Granola
Road Trip Snacks For Toddlers
If you are traveling with toddlers, some of our family's favorite road trip snacks have been these.
- Muffins (My kids love this one!)
- Goldfish (or Annie's Cheddar Buddies)
- Dried Vegetables (like green beans or veggie chips)
- Graham Crackers
- Animal Crackers
- Cheese Sticks
- Applesauce Packets
- Pureed Fruit Packets
- Kid Lara Bars
- Made Good Bars
- Banana Bread Slices
- Bananas, Precut Apple Slices
- Apples and Peanut Butter
- Cut Vegetables
- Raisins or Dried Cranberries
- Dried Cereal (Gorilla Munch, Kix, Chocolate Wheatabix)
Need any ideas for road trip activities for kids, toddlers, and teens? Check out my post on over 35 best road trip activities kids will love!
Gluten-Free and Vegan Road Trip Meals & Snacks
If you are traveling with a dietary restriction, have allergies, are gluten-free or a vegan, it can be hard to find road trip food that meets your needs. My husband and I are primarily gluten-free, so I speak from experience here.
Planning ahead is going to be key. Especially on those remote stops, you may find it really hard to locate gluten-free or vegan road trip snacks or meals. So here are a few ideas for you to make at home.
Gluten-Free and Vegan Road Trip Meal Ideas
- Overnight Oats (with almond milk and gluten-free oats)
- Chia Pudding (with almond milk)
- Sausage Balls (not Vegan)
- Homemade Lunchables
- Homemade Uncrustables
- Vegan Jackfruit Pulled Pork wrap (use Gluten-Free wrap)
- Falafel Hummus Pita Sandwiches (use Gluten-Free pita)
- Vegan Chickpea Salad Sandwich
- Salad In A Jar
- Vegan Vegetable Wraps
- Quinoa Salad
Gluten-Free and Vegan Road Trip Snacks Ideas
- Gluten-Free Applesauce Muffins
- Easy Vegan Blueberry Muffins
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins (not Vegan)
- Almond Flour Banana Muffins Gluten and Dairy Free (not Vegan)
- Vegan Sweet Potato Oatmeal Muffins
- Coconut Flour Banana Muffins
- Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Balls Gluten Free
- Salted Caramel Bliss Balls
- Gluten-Free Chickpea Frittata Bites
- Gluten-Free Wheat Thins
- Homemade Cassava Crackers
- No-Bake Granola Bars
- Gluten-Free Vegan Goldfish
- Almond Flour Blondies (not Vegan)
- Gourmet Chocolate Hazlenut Biscotti Gluten Free (not Vegan)
Road Trip Food: Desserts
Ok, you are driving a really long way. Your kids are doing a good job. It's time to live a little and give everyone a little sweet treat. Here are some ideas for easy, portable road trip snack desserts to keep everyone happy.
Road Trip Grab and Go Snack Desserts
- Candy (like M & Ms, Sour Patch Kids, Hershey Kisses)
- Gluten-Free Trail Mix Buddies
- Coconut Candy Bars
- No-Bake Rocky Road Peanut Butter Bites
- Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Blondies or Brownies
- Snickerdoodle Muddy Buddies
- Rice Krispie Treats
- Blueberry Hand Pies
Final Thought on The Best Road Trip Food
Packing for a road trip can be daunting, and wondering “what kind of food should I bring on a road trip?” just adds to the list. I hope to make it easier for you with this post and my printable road trip food list and meal planner.
But know, that the best road trip foods are the ones that are easy, portable, healthy and everyone will eat.
And when wondering what I should eat when driving long distances, I use a road trip food list like mine to plan ahead and make sure I have options that limit stops and will keep me full. Planning ahead saves you money and time. And, healthy road trip foods can ensure that you have the energy to continue the journey and eat well on the road.
These 101+ ideas for the best road trip foods and my road trip food list gives you many ideas to keep you full and fed on the road. All you have to do is enjoy the journey.