The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The Best Road Trip Snacks to Bring Along for the Ride

Best Road Trip Snacks

According to a study we made up for this post, 87% of Americans admit to taking a road trip as an excuse to eat ungodly amounts of gas station snacks. It’s true; Google it. Few things are as satisfying for travelers as ducking into a truck stop for a soda and coming out with $100 worth of pretzels, gummy worms, Hostess pastries, and Red Bull.

If your travels frequently take you to more off-the-beaten-path locations, it could be a hundred miles are more between gas stations. So, road trip snacks aren’t just an indulgence — they’re essential to your survival. When preparing your snack pack, balance is key. At the very least, you’ll want some crunch (if for nothing else than to keep you awake), protein for energy, and something sweet to round it all out. You also want to avoid things that will melt or spoil quickly (unless you’ve got a great cooler, of course). Below, you’ll find some of the best road trip snacks to keep you full, fueled, and happy for the ride.

Wild Game Jerky

Buffalo Bob’s Game Jerky Gift Pack

Buffalo Bob’s Game Jerky Gift Pack

There’s no denying meat is packed with protein-heavy calories, perfect for long days on the road. If you’re looking to venture beyond the typical Slim Jims and Jack Link’s brand chicken and beef teriyaki jerky (not that there’s anything wrong with those), you can find fancier jerkies made from just about everything these days. Check out Buffalo Bob’s Game Jerky Gift Pack with everything from alligator to kangaroo to ostrich. Because you deserve to eat dried meat that’s every bit as wild as you.

Protein Bars

Kate’s Real Food Energy Bars

Kate's Real Food Energy Bars

Meal-replacement bars are the de facto snack of the 21st-century adventurer. The best energy bars offer hours of go-fuel with a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. But, dig into the nutrition label of the most popular brands, and you often find they’re little more than glorified candy bars. That’s why we like Kate’s Real Food. They’re certified organic, non-GMO, and come in a variety of great-tasting flavors. They’re pricier than most other alternatives, but they deliver some of the best bang-for-your-buck energy on the market.

Trail Mix

Back to Nature Trail Mix Harvest Blend

Back to Nature Trail Mix Harvest Blend

Like protein bars, trail mixes are a bit of a “mixed bag” (pun intended). The best trail mix blends are filling, nutritious, and packed with energy, while the worst are essentially deconstructed Snickers bars with a healthy dose of M&Ms throw-in. For a healthier option, we like Back to Nature’s Harvest Blend. It’s an all-natural, non-GMO medley of almonds, raisins, pumpkin, and sunflowers seeds with a bit of dried apricot for added zest.

Freeze-Dried Vegetables

ReadyWise Simple Kitchen Seasoned Veggies Variety Pack

ReadyWise Simple Kitchen Seasoned Veggies Variety Pack

For shorter trips, it’s easy to toss some cut-up carrots and broccoli in a cooler bag. Anything longer than a couple of days, however, usually requires some freeze-dried magic to ensure your fruit or vegetables don’t spoil along the way. ReadyWise’s Seasoned Veggies Variety Pack offers four flavors that all rely on freeze-drying to lock in their nutrients almost indefinitely. They’re perfect as a road trip snack or a side dish to any mid-trip lunch.

Fruit Leather

Stretch Island Fruit Leather Snacks

Stretch Island Fruit Leather Snacks

Like cut-up vegetables, fresh fruit is a great option too. But, if they’re as ripe as they should be, things can get messy. A banana probably won’t leave your hand sticky, but a peach, a pear, or even an apple may leave you wishing you hadn’t forgotten that bottle of Purell. That’s why fruit leather is our go-to alternative. Stretch Island’s Fruit Leather Variety Pack is ultra-portable, more shelf-stable than fresh fruit, and every strip contains a quarter cup of real fruit.

Meat Chips

Wilde Chips Chicken Chips

Wilde Chips Chicken Chips

Taste-wise, chips are a near-perfect snack. They’re crunchy, starchy, salty, loaded with fat, and not even remotely healthy. Try replacing your usual bag of Utz with Wilde Chips. The concept of “meat chips” sounds a little strange, but trust us: This isn’t your ordinary, chewy-as-hell meat jerky but in chip form. These tasty, meat-based chips are every bit as awesome as potato chips with unique flavors like Sweet Chipotle Pork and Nashville Hot Chicken. Plus, they deliver a huge dose of hunger-crushing protein and are keto- and paleo-friendly too.

Chewing Gum

PUR 100% Xylitol Chewing Gum

PUR 100% Xylitol Chewing Gum

Less a “snack” and more a “favor to your car mates,” chewing gum is essential for any road trip. After 10 hours of road trip snacks, there’s no denying that your mouth can get a little, er, funky. We like Pur Spearmint for its bold, long-lasting flavor, but any of the roughly 10 flavors are tasty too. Even better: It’s vegan, non-GMO, and sweetened with 100% xylitol (rather than aspartame).

If you’re planning a road trip this summer, take some of the guesswork out of it with the best road trip apps.

Editors' Recommendations