Road Trip Travel Travel Tips

Road Trip Food List & Top 9 Essential Travel Food Tips

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on
February 28, 2020

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 out-of-this-world expensive if you do not plan ahead, especially when it comes to eating 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 will want to read here instead of learning 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 items.

Breakfast Cold and On-the-Go

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.

As an additional road trip food idea, save raisins and dried fruits for the end of the road trip as they do not risk spoiling.

Road tripping is one of our favorite family vacations! Get our awesome road trip food list that includes ideas for meals and snacks on-the-go and a printable checklist to take to the grocery store! #roadtripfoodlist #bestroadtripfoods #roadtripsnackideas #toddlerroadtripsnacks #healthyroadtripsnacks #roadtripmeals

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 road trip food 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: Every family needs an epic packing strategy!

When it comes to road trip food, tortillas, pitas, or other sturdy flatbreads work better to bring along than do loaves of bread. They take up a lot 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 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 snack bins (road trip food list)

Road Trip Food List: Snacks

In my opinion, snacks are the No. 1 way to keep kids happy on a family road trip.

In fact, bringing along plenty of snacks tops the list of our overall best family road trip tips ever!

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.

Heading out on a family road trip?

Be extra organized by clicking the following image to get your FREE family vacation packing list that is both customizable and printable!

Road Trip Food

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 road trip food ideas, 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 and road trip foods 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.

Road trip sick bag essentials

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
  • Kleenex

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 food in one shopping trip!
Road tripping is one of our favorite family vacations! Get our awesome road trip food list that includes ideas for meals and snacks on-the-go and a printable checklist to take to the grocery store! #roadtripfoodlist #bestroadtripfoods #roadtripsnackideas #toddlerroadtripsnacks #healthyroadtripsnacks #roadtripmeals

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Road tripping is one of our favorite family vacations! Get our awesome road trip food list that includes ideas for meals and snacks on-the-go and a printable checklist to take to the grocery store! #roadtripfoodlist #bestroadtripfoods #roadtripsnackideas #toddlerroadtripsnacks #healthyroadtripsnacks #roadtripfood
Road tripping is one of our favorite family vacations! Get our awesome road trip food list that includes ideas for meals and snacks on-the-go and a printable checklist to take to the grocery store! #roadtripfoodlist #bestroadtripfoods #roadtripsnackideas #toddlerroadtripsnacks #healthyroadtripsnacks #roadtripfoodideas
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6 Comments
  1. Reply

    Umiko

    April 29, 2020

    This is a great list as we also big in road trip. Snacks is so important especially to keep them from asking are we there yet. Haha… I myself like peanuts to keep me awake when it’s my turn to drive.

    • Reply

      Jen

      April 30, 2020

      Thanks for reading and for sharing your favorite road trip snack!!

  2. Reply

    Bolupe

    April 27, 2020

    This is such a comprehensive list and it is so helpful as I predict a lot of us will be going on more road trips once we can.
    Prepping these meals will definitely save some money and help the kids feel less bored. I know that my kids are usually pleased munching stuffs during road trips.
    I also like that it is more likely for the road trip snack to be more healthier than what you’ll buy elsewhere.

    • Reply

      Jen

      April 29, 2020

      Thank you! Yes, the health factor of pre-packing is a big one, as is the enormous cost savings 🙂

  3. Reply

    Harmony, Momma To Go

    April 27, 2020

    I like to have a good mix of healthy (kids like apples, those are easy to eat) and snacky/salty. I am also very particular. about road trip drinks. Big coffees, la croix, iced tea!

    • Reply

      Jen

      April 29, 2020

      I like your ideas! We’d be good road trip buddies!

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    Hi, I’m Jen!  Welcome to Travel With A Plan!

    I’m an avid adventurer who is always planning the next family vacation for my husband and I, and our three boys!

    As an advocate for family travel with kids of all ages, I am a firm believer that traveling together helps keep families healthy and happy at home!

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    TMOM Travel Writer
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