Road trips are one of our favorite types of family vacations because they allow for awesome family bonding time. Road trips can range from being very budget-friendly to being out-of-this-world expensive if you do not plan ahead, however, especially when it comes to food.
The temptation to grab a snack or a bag of candy at every gas station, as well as to eat out at restaurants or gorge on fast food, can really start to add up in terms of money and of wasted time.
One way to save money and time while road tripping, however, is to bring your own food!
By making a road trip food list and by packing fun road trip meals and snacks, you’ll have more options as you travel and will bypass having to stop as much.
Our road trip food list includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, as well as our awesome travel snack ideas.
In addition, we’ll share our Top 9 Travel Food Tips that you do not want to have to learn by trial and error.
Stick around until the end of the article to access our FREE Road Trip Food List printable to take with you to the grocery store as you prepare for your next family road trip!
Road Trip Food List: Breakfast
As the most important meal of the day, luckily, having breakfast on the road is also the easiest meal to eat cold and on-the-go.
If your hotel doesn’t offer a free breakfast, or if breakfast falls within the hours of your long-haul car trip, plan ahead by bringing along these road trip food list items.
Breakfast Cold and On-the-Go
- Dry cereal
- Yogurt tubes and granola bars
- Muffins, donuts, and scones
- Bagels and cream cheese
- Fruit or squeezable applesauce
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Peanut butter, banana, and granola wrap
Travel Food Tip #1: Use up your most delicate fruit first when on long-haul road trips.
In other words, start by eating bananas and berries, then move on to more sturdy produce such as apples and oranges.
Save raisins and dried fruits for last as they do not risk spoiling.
Road Trip Food List: Lunch
There are several road trip food ideas when it comes to lunch, making lunch another easy meal to eat cold, and on-the-go.
Packing the right foods for lunch keeps us on track and out of congested cities during the busy noon-hour.
With so many options for having lunch on the road, be creative by making fun road trip sandwiches and pairing them with fruit, veggies, juice, and a cookie!
Lunch Cold and On-the-Go
- Premade sandwiches with deli meat and cheese
- Peanut butter sandwiches (skip the jelly to avoid sogginess)
- Pita pocket with mozzarella, tomato, basil, turkey, cheese, hummus, cucumber, and/or tuna salad
- Home-ade Lunchables with summer sausage, cheese, and crackers
- Tortilla with cream cheese, sliced olives, and pepperoni
- Veggies and single-serve packs of ranch dressing, hummus, or guacamole
- Pre-assembled Salad In A Jar
Travel Food Tip #2: Tortillas, pitas, or other sturdy flatbreads work better to bring along on a road trip than do loaves of bread. They take up less room and do not risk getting smashed.
Travel Food Tip #3: When packing a cooler with items that need to stay chilled, be sure to lay the ice on the top, versus the bottom of the cooler.
This is because cold air sinks and will, therefore, disperse itself more evenly if laid on top of the food.
Travel Food Tip #4: Aim to open the cooler only 1 or 2 times a day in order to maintain its refrigeration and keep the ice from thawing.
Road Trip Food List: Dinner
If there is one meal that you choose to splurge on, I recommend taking the time to make a pit stop in order to have dinner at a restaurant.
Watch for a neat billboard and let the kids pick a fun and unique restaurant to stop at an upcoming city or town.
Perhaps the hardest meal to feel satisfied from when done in road-trip-fashion, there are a few hearty food ideas that can suffice as dinner, however.
Dinner Cold and On-the-Go
- Cold rotisserie chicken, chunked and pre-assembled with a garden salad
- Pre-made pasta salad, such as Pizza Pasta Salad
- StarKist ready-to-eat tuna salad in an avocado half or on a bun
- Chicken and pickled veggies in pitas
- Hummus veggie wrap
- Cold pizza
Travel Food Tips #5: Use individual condiments packages such as Mayo, ketchup, mustard, and BBQ sauce so that you can use it all in one sitting and don’t have to refrigerate them.
Road Trip Food List: Snacks
In my opinion, snacks are the No. 1 way to keep kids happy on a family road trip. Bringing along plenty of snacks tops the list of our overall best family road trip tips!
Packing pre-purchased snacks is also a great way to help cut costs associated with buying food on the road.
For this reason, I suggest assembling an entire snack tub filled with fun and appetizing snacks and surprises that you know your kids will love.
Look for clear packing tubs that are large enough to hold a wide variety and amount of snacks. Any of these 16-quart storage tubs from Sterilite are a perfect size, price, and durability!
Best Road Trip Snacks
- Chips and pretzels
- Animal crackers
- Trail mix
- Popcorn or homemade popcorn balls
- Filled crackers (peanut butter, cheese)
- Beef jerky
- Nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts)
- String cheese, Babybel, Laughing Cow cheese wedges
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Healthy no-bake cookies
- Candy and gummy candy
Travel Food Tip #6: If buying in bulk, break down snacks into single servings. That way they are way easier to divvy up and the kids won’t plow through the entire stash on the first day.
Travel Food Tip #7: Don’t forget to pack a selection of food and snacks for both the way “there” and the way “back”.
Also, make all food, including snacks, easily accessible throughout the duration of your family road trip.
This prevents someone (likely mom or dad!) from having to constantly bend over the back seat or stop to open the trunk every time hunger or boredom hits.
Travel Snacks for Toddlers
Road tripping with toddlers presents its own set of challenges and requires additional thought when it comes to toddler-friendly road trip activities and food.
When considering toddler car snacks, the most important thing is to avoid giving them anything to eat that could be deemed a choking hazard.
You may not have a continuous eye on them with their car seat being in the backseat. This creates a huge risk if a toddler car snack should get lodged in his/her airway.
Our favorite healthy toddler car snacks include:
- Graham crackers
- Snap pea crisps
- Applesauce and/or yogurt pouches
- Cheese sticks
- Soft mini muffins
- Whole-grain crackers
- Bananas and/or apple slices
Travel Food Tip #8: When it comes to toddlers, think frequent ‘mini-meals’. Instead of three large meals a day when road tripping, aim for a meal or healthy snack every two to three hours.
This will help keep your toddler stay content as well as keep their tummy satisfied.
Essential Non Food Items
No road trip food list would be complete without listing the non-food items that should accompany you when meals and snacks are being enjoyed on the road.
Consider assembling a road trip kit designated for spills, clean-up, and disposal of garbage and waste.
Likewise, be prepared for car sickness by having saltine crackers and motion sickness medicine on hand.
If someone gets sick, have Ziplock bags readily available. In addition, pack paper towels to wipe their mouth, and a plastic grocery bag to tie up and dispose of everything in.
Non-Food Road Trip Essentials
- Disposable plates and silverware
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Garbage bags
- Ziplock bags
- Napkins/paper towels
Travel Food Tip #9: Avoid bringing anything made of glass on your road trip, including glass food containers. Glass is heavy, bulky, and very dangerous when broken within the confines of your family vehicle.
Road Trip Food List: Preparation
- Plan out each breakfast, lunch, and dinner ahead of time when preparing for meals on the road.
- If you have room in your vehicle, consider using 2 coolers. Use one as a refrigerator, and one as a freezer complete with ice blocks.
- Perishable foods can be left out at room temperature for two hours, then they must be refrigerated.
- Each time you stop while on a road trip, don’t forget to pitch any garbage that has accumulated. This prevents build-up and smelliness.
- Head to the grocery store with our FREE printable checklist and purchase all of your road trip essentials to make your next road trip a success!
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