Road trip snack ideas can range from easy things you can buy at a gas station to healthy, prepared meals from your favorite grocery store!
Alas, it seems the road trip part of my journey is coming to an end soon. My plan was to be in the States for a few months and head abroad by this January – and that plan may be slightly edited soon (more to come on that later!). That said, I asked around for a few ideas from people on things they’d like to read about my travels so far. A question that came up a few times was, “well, what do you eat?”
As a vegan and an otherwise health-conscious traveler, this was something I struggled with before I left: how was I going to keep being healthy if I didn’t have a kitchen or a place to cook most of the time? Well, I needn’t have worried because most airBNB’s do offer use of their kitchens and cooking equipment, but I’m still not much of a cook! And what about those long hours on the road? Well, I can’t starve, so I had to think of a good plan! Here, I’ll tell you all about how I manage my road-trip eating and give you some tips for snack ideas!
First thing’s first: buy a Polar Pack or other flexible cooler.
Before I left, I bought a pink flower Polar Pack (so SUE ME for wanting to have pretty things!) and packed it full of some essentials (which I’ll tell you about below). You can buy something easy and cheap, like this food tote. The critical thing is this: you won’t always have a kitchen or grocery store or even sometimes gas station available to you, so you should keep a bunch of things you love handy.
Then: find some travel silverware and a few small Tupperware containers.
Luckily, a close friend gave me a travel silverware kit but you can find them anywhere (hello Amazon to the rescue, as usual). I didn’t think I’d use it very much but I seriously use it ALL the time. It’s so much nicer and more eco-friendly than using plastic silverware everywhere I go. When I’m not at a place with a sink, I rinse the silverware with my water bottle and put it in a small mesh bag that goes in my cooler (I’ve already talked about how much I love Uxcell bags).
Also: get a WATER BOTTLE (or two).
You need a water bottle. This cannot be overstated. You might need two. I, in fact, have three. I have a giant Nalgene, a clippable stainless steel one, and a collapsible one. They have all come in handy in multiple ways on this trip. And I’m hydrated! Before I leave any destination, I fill up all three water bottles (and I have giant gallon jugs of water in my trunk for emergencies).
So, what do I pack in my cooler?
I’m going to preface this by saying I’m a bit of a freak, and so I like to eat weird combinations of things. Please don’t judge me (or do, but do it silently). Luckily for me, a lot of the stuff I like to eat can do with just an ice pack and easily goes on my travels. This is what normally goes in my cooler:
1. Cans of chickpeas (and a travel can opener)
Okay, yes, it’s one of my favorite things to eat chickpeas plain. I don’t know what this says about me. But luckily, canned foods are great for traveling. Usually, I rinse off the chickpeas as best as I can with some water and then dump them into a tupperware container and eat them plain. I’m not saying this is for everyone – but it works for me!
A staple. I can either eat this plain (when I need a quick hit of carbs and don’t want to stop anywhere) or I can stop by the side of the road and combine it with my other trusty friend…
3. Peanut butter (and jelly)
Of course! This is also an absolute must. Yes, it’s not the best, but it’s easy, it’s calorically dense, and it’s vegan. I will also sometimes literally stick a spoon in peanut butter and eat it plain on my way out of a hotel in the morning after a cup of coffee. It sounds weird, sure, but when you’re traveling sometimes you just need to ingest calories and fat quickly and be on your way. Jelly I won’t eat plain, cuz, well, ew, but I keep it with me for the sandwiches.
4. Sunflower seeds
VERY salty and very delicious. They also, weirdly, help keep you awake. I don’t know if it’s the salt or continually going back and forth to the bag or what. You can also get them in weird flavors, like dill pickle, which is boss.
5. Luna bars
Some Luna bars are vegan, and those are the ones I buy to keep with me. I don’t eat them very often, because I feel like they pack a lot of caloric punch for such a tiny little bar that doesn’t fill me up in anyway, but I don’t feel comfortable unless I have some with me at all times. You never know when you’ll end up on a long-ass state highway with nothing in sight for miles.
6. Dried fruit
I’m a fan of dried apricots, myself, despite that they are kind of disgusting for you. But this, like some of the other things on my list, is a quick hit of sugar and energy when I need it. I also work out a LOT, even while traveling, so a lot of the things on this list are designed to give me quick and easy calories.
7. Ground coffee
Don’t judge me. I love coffee so much that I bought a travel French press mug (this is the exact one I bought and love). I know in an ideal French press situation the coffee is supposed to be ground at the time of brewing, but I don’t have the time for that, ever. So I buy coarsely ground coffee, put it in the bottom of the mug, find hot water where I can at gas stations or hotels or whatever and brew my coffee in my mug. It’s one of my favorite purchases!
And here’s what I buy when/where I can:
They generally need to be refrigerated so I don’t keep them with me. My two favorite sandwiches are: pickles and peanut butter & pickles and hummus. I also just like to eat them out of the bottle.
2. Hummus (and carrots, usually)
Of course! Hummus goes on my pickle-and-hummus sandwiches and it’s great for dipping carrots or other veggies in. Also, though, needs to be refrigerated so I buy it where I can and don’t keep it with me.
3. Lemon juice
This goes on the chickpeas. Yes, I love plain chickpeas but chickpeas drizzled with a bit of lemon juice (and sometimes mixed with chopped carrots and pepper) – one of my favorite fucking meals ever.
4. Fresh fruit & veggies
A no brainer! I can’t travel with fresh fruit most of the time (occasionally apples, bananas) so I buy things like pineapple and peaches when I get the chance. I love fruit so whenever I am in a city for longer than a day, I’ll get some. I also do peanut butter and banana sandwiches, so that’s another one of my faves.
5. Salad ingredients and salad dressing
A simple, easy meal to make in an airBNB. I normally buy the prepacked “salad kid=ts” at Trader Joe’s or whatever grocery store I’m in so I don’t have to buy a bunch of different veggies and waste them. A bit of salad dressing (oil-based, not dairy) and I’m good to go.
6. Prepared meals at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s
Oh Trader Joe’s tofu spring rolls, why can’t I quit you? Sure, these things can get a bit expensive, but they are less expensive than eating at restaurants and perfect for when I want a pick-me-up. Things I love include: aforementioned spring rolls, TJ’s hummus rollups, Whole Foods veggie sushi.
7. Cold vegan specialty goods
It’s weird considering I didn’t used to like processed vegan food, but I love Tofurky veggie dogs. Unfortunately, they also need to be kept cold, so I can’t travel with them. I also love Beyond Meat chicken strips and when I can, I’ll buy a little thing of Vegenaise for some sandwich making!
There you have it. This is how I manage a full-time road trip while trying to remain (mostly) healthy. No potato chips or soda or any garbage like that.
Hopefully you haven’t judged me too much by my weird food combinations, but here’s a tip: don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!