Heading out on a road trip doesn’t mean you need to leave your healthier eating habits behind. With a little bit of prep work and planning, you can enjoy your trip knowing that having healthy food choices available can help you feel good on your trip and even save money! These tips will help get you started:
- Bring cut up or portable fresh fruits and vegetables. Travel friendly fruits and vegetables include grapes, apples, bananas, oranges, berries, carrots, sugar snap peas, celery or sliced sweet bell peppers. You can store in food safe containers or, for portion control, put into reusable lunch containers and store in a cooler.
- Don’t forget the protein snacks to keep moods and energy in check! Healthier options include cheese sticks, trail mix, granola bars, popped popcorn, hard-boiled eggs or these No-Bake Granola Bites. Keep the boredom munchies away with a few protein snacks.
- Use travel apps on a smartphone or GPS settings to help you discover local regionally-inspired restaurants. When it comes to eating out on the road, our road trip family rule is to try to avoid restaurant chains that we can find at home. Our attitude is that traveling is not only exploring new places with your mind and body but also with your palate. Some of our best memories have been trying sometimes hole-in-the wall restaurants. We use the travel apps to help us find those with good ratings and to see if they’re close to our travels.
- Choose your cooler wisely. This may seem like a no-brainer but if your vehicle is packed to max, finding space for a cooler can be a challenge. Choose one that can hold enough for one to two days then plan to replenish along your route. Instead of filling it with ice, consider freezing water bottles ahead of time and throw those in instead. Ice can be added at stops along the way and the melted water bottles will serve as a refreshing beverage.
- Keep an eye out for local farmers’ markets or fruit & vegetable stands along the way. Good local, seasonal produce! And keep your eyes open! On one trip last year, we were driving some back roads in Maine and saw signs for a small, family-run bakery and produce stand. It was just a tad off our route and the food we purchased was SO good. If you have the time, make eating fresh part of the fun and visit a pick-your-own farm. Search online when planning your trip or use one of the apps available for smartphones.
- Plan to stop at grocery stores instead of the fast food chains. If cooler space is limited, find a local grocery store along your route to replenish. This is especially nice for things that might spoil more easily like dairy products or lunchmeat.
- Don’t forget the beverages! We bring refillable water bottles to fill up at water stations in visitor centers. As a backup, we also bring or purchase a gallon jug of bottled water to refill our individual bottles. It will save you money to refill instead of purchasing individual bottled water! A road trip treat for our family will also sometimes include carbonated juice so we can avoid the soda when stopping to refuel at the gas stations. You can use insulated beverage containers to bring homemade smoothies along too like this Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie!
Looking for even more good-for-you snack ideas to pack? Check out this round-up of 65+ Healthy Road Trip Snacks over on my blog.
Now that you’ve made your road trip food plan, consider planning your snack breaks at rest stops or parks—the extra perk is you get a chance to stretch your legs and kids can run off some energy too. With all that prep time before your trip, you’ll also be able to do more sightseeing and less time waiting in fast food lines!