Healthy Summer Snacks To Bring On A Road Trip

Planning an epic summer adventure? Don't forget to pack portable road trip snacks to take with you. Whether you have four hours on the road or four days, packing healthy snacks to help alleviate hunger in between meals can help you avoid the temptation of a gas station snack stop.

Case in point: this January, I embarked on a three-day, 32-hour, 2,200-mile road trip, otherwise known as a cross-country move. I meticulously planned prior to the trip to make sure all affairs were in order. Oil change? Check. Emergency car survival kit? Check. Paper and digital routes mapped highlighting hotels, gas stations, and restaurants? Check, check, and check. It wasn't until hour four of the trip when I realized I had missed one checkbox: healthy snacks I could feel good about eating after sitting in the car all day. Instead, I had brought my usual snack pack, otherwise known as the three Cs: Cheetos, Cheez-Its, and candy. I needed a carrot. My stretchy pants could only stretch so much.

Not that there's anything wrong with indulging in junk food every now and then, but when you're stuck in the car for hours and hours, you're going to want some other options. Luckily, summer is the time to take advantage of all the in-season fruits and vegetables available, many of which are portable and have little prep involved.

Your summer road trip should be spent making memories, like singing songs at the top of your lungs, spending quality time with friends and family, and discovering local gems — not worrying about whether the sweet potato fries you had for lunch counted as a vegetable (it did not). A little pre-planning to ensure a balanced diet while on the road goes a long way.

1. Berries

Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are all currently in season at grocery stores and farmers' markets, so load up! Snag a pint or two, rinse and dry, and place in a Tupperware container for easy and mess-free access on the road.

2. Cherry tomatoes

You love to pile cherry tomatoes on top of salads, but don't count them out as a standalone snack. Juicy and perfectly ripe in the summer, you'll have your pick of varieties wherever you shop. Choose a mix of Sun Golds, Sugar Snacks, and Sweet 100s for a sweet blend.

3. Low-fat cheese sticks

If you remember your parents sneaking string cheese into your lunch box as an alternative to chips, you understand the benefits of these tasty tubes that will help keep you fuller longer. Take that, Doritos.

4. Popcorn

Popcorn is a whole grain, and a good source of dietary fiber. Skip the movie theatre butter variety, and look into air-popped popcorn for a more healthful snack.

5. Roasted chickpeas

Hit the supermarket before your road trip, and pick up a can of chickpeas for this roasted snack, which can be flavored to your liking: try curry powder, cayenne pepper, or rosemary and garlic.

6. Roasted nuts

Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans — there are so many varieties of nuts to choose from, and all contain unsaturated fatty acids which can help lower LDL (a.k.a. "bad") cholesterol levels. Bonus points if you have time to roast them before your trip. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, and roast on a baking sheet between eight to 12 minutes.

7. Natural peanut butter

Skip the additives, and choose all-natural peanut butter that contains only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. Your favorite sandwich spread is the perfect vehicle for dipping apple wedges, celery sticks, pretzels, and whole-grain crackers.

Images: Steve Johnson, THOR, Christian Schnettelker, Jenn Sterling, Sarah Sosiak, Brian Brown, JJ, Essie/Flickr