Travel can be chaotic and unpredictable with long delays or missed meals. That’s why a healthy travel snack comes in handy. With a proper snack, you’ll stay energized and be less likely to indulge in the selection of candy and chips and other heavily processed or highly sweetened snacks that are abundant in airports and rest stops. Unlike healthier snacks, these highly processed snacks can sap your energy and leave you hungry right after you polish them off. Whether you’re hitting the road or heading out by plane, stocking up on nutritious snacks will keep you full and fueled until your next meal.
What makes a healthy travel snack?
Here are some factors to consider when shopping for a healthy snack.
- It contains mostly whole food ingredients. For packaged snacks, look for ingredients like nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, fruits and veggies.
- It’s not too salty or sweet. Keep an eye on the sodium and added sugars, both of which can be bad for your health.
- It’s filling and provides steady energy. Whole, fiber-rich carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, are tied to even energy with fewer crashes.
If you’ll be traveling for more than two hours or leaving your snacks in a hot car for more than an hour, you’ll need items that won’t perish. For longer or hotter travels, play it safe by packing fresh items in a cooler filled with ice.
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There's no surprise that whole fruits and vegetables get the green light, especially when traveling shorter distances or when you have a cooler to keep them fresh. Certain fruits, like bananas, apples, and oranges, are easy to take along, even when you don’t have access to a cooler. The fiber and water in fruits and veggies promote regularity, which is key when traveling since the disruption in your normal schedule can cause constipation. Fruits and vegetables help tame hunger on their own, but they’re even better at filling your belly when paired with food containing protein or fat such as nuts, seeds or a boiled egg. Here are some of the best travel snacks to stock up on.
Naturipe Snacks Bentos
You could assemble your own healthy bento snack box, or you could leave it up to the folks at Naturipe. Each box comes with a generous portion of fruit, including blueberries, plus nuts or cheese. Some of the boxes include a small, sweetened treat. If you want one with no added sugars, the Boost Bento Box with almonds and sharp cheddar cheese fits the bill.
Mini Babybel Cheese
These individually wrapped cheese rounds can be unrefrigerated for four hours, making them an excellent snack for shorter trips. For a heartier nibble, enjoy one with some dried fruit and whole grain crackers.
Quinn Whole Grain Pretzel Twists
Most pretzels contain refined carbs, which means they’re not very filling. On the other hand, a serving of these pretzels has 9 grams of gluten-free whole grains, which translates to better energy during your travels. If you’re feeling fancy, use them in a DIY trail mix.
Seapoint Farms Lightly Salted Dry Roasted Edamame
Each portable package provides 11 grams of plant-based protein and 6 grams of fiber for just 100 calories. Stick a few packages in your travel bag so you have enough for the duration of your trip.
Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs
Each packet of PB has 7 grams of plant-based protein. And unlike some other brands we’ve seen, there’s no added sugar in this nut butter. If your trip is on the shorter side or you’re packing a cooler bag, try squeezing some PB onto baby carrots. You can also make a meal out of PB, whole grain crackers or pretzels, and any fruit or veggie.
To help keep you regular throughout your getaway, snack on dried prunes. Five prunes have 100 calories and 3 grams of fiber. And the type of fiber in prunes draws water into your colon, which can ease constipation.
Nutritious and portable, shelled nuts are a travel staple. Pack them in a reusable storage container for snacking throughout your vacation. Be sure to leave enough to nourish you on your return trip!
These crunchy cheese snacks don’t require refrigeration, so they’re easy to take along. A 1-ounce serving has 10 to 13 grams of protein plus 25 to 30% of your daily calcium requirement. Make a travel-friendly cheese plate by pairing them with some dried fruit.
Super Seedz Cinnamon and Sugar Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re looking for an alternative to nuts, try these, which are free of all common allergens. They have 7 grams of protein, less than a teaspoon of added sugar, and they contain 50% of the daily value for magnesium.
Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Cup Classic
Instead of skipping breakfast, early travelers can grab one of these cups to make a filling meal on the go. All you need is hot water, which you can get on the plane or anywhere that sells tea. In addition to oats, this blend has chia seeds and flax seeds. The mix has 7 grams of both protein and fiber. Balance out your meal with some nuts or a squeeze pack of nut butter and dried fruit.
Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips
Just 10% of Americans meet their veggie requirements, and these chips count as a serving of vegetables. The ingredient list on this low-carb travel snack reads like a recipe you’d make at home, but you don’t have to clean up the kitchen after enjoying them.
80% of Americans fall short of their daily fruit requirements, but dried fruit is an easy way to help you reach the goal, even while you’re traveling. The key is to buy varieties with no added sugar or sulfites, preservatives that may be added to enhance the color and prolong shelf life. If you prefer crunchy fruit, opt for freeze-dried varieties instead. Whichever you choose, keep an eye on portion sizes, which are smaller since the water has been removed. Also, dried fruit can get sticky in hot temperatures so take your travel time into consideration before packing.