There’s something about being on the open road that just makes you want to… snack. And there seems to be some unspoken rule about how road trip snacks must all be guilty pleasures: load up the backseat with chips, soda, Twizzlers, crank up the radio, and get rolling, right? However, speaking from personal experience as someone who lived as a full-time traveler for three years, those carby foods — delicious though they may be — don’t exactly give you the kind of energy that’ll sustain you and keep you even-keeled through a seemingly endless stretch of highway with antsy kids in the car.
But what road trip snacks won’t leave you feeling zapped? What should you eat to ensure your version of cruisin’ turns out as happy as Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow’s in Duets? (Excellent movie alert, if you need a rec!). You may be tempted to stock up on Snickers bars, but there’s a better way, friend. Although, hey, no one’s saying you shouldn’t have a Snickers if you want one. Just maybe pair it with a few other more balanced bites so you don’t have a sugar crash right around the same time your toddler tells you they need to go potty for the 400th time.
The following road trip snacks feel indulgent — but aren’t so indulgent that they’ll make you feel like you’ve been dragged behind the car. Well, most of them… had to throw in a few ol’ fashioned junk food picks in the mix, too.
Korean Barbecue Beef Jerky
The taste will bring you to these high-protein treats from Lorissa’s Kitchen — they’re marinated in soy sauce and brown sugar with hints of garlic and onion. But the fact that they’re ethically sourced using 100-percent grass-fed beef raised without added growth hormones will keep you coming back.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Part of the reason this snack seems so irresistible is the name, Hippeas. How cute?! But also, these crunchy delights are a good source of protein and fiber (plus, they taste like sriracha).
Strawberry Greek Yogurt-Drizzled Kettle Corn
Oh, Boom Chicka Pop kettle corn, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Whole grain, non-GMO, gluten-free, pre-popped AND drizzled in delicious strawberry Greek yogurt? Get in my belly.
Theoretically, any protein bar would do. But, No. 1, these Kind Bars are truly delicious. And No. 2, the story behind the brand just makes you want to support it by eating as many as possible. Have you heard it? The founder, Daniel Lubetzky, is the son of a Holocaust survivor. Growing up, his father often told him stories of life in a concentration camp — one of which described his starvation and an unexpected act of kindness from a German soldier. Upon hearing the story, Lubetzky vowed to create a company that would inspire people to live a kind life.
By now, you probably already know that almonds are excellent for you. They’re high in protein, low in carbs, and heart-healthy to boot. All of the Blue Diamond flavored nuts please the taste buds, but these bold habanero BBQ ones really kick up the savory goodness.
Few snacks come close to sunflower seeds when it comes to pure summer nostalgia! There’s just something particularly gratifying about cruising down the highway on a summer road trip spitting empty shells into a bottle. So, these David sunflower seeds make for a classic choice.
Crunchy Broad Beans
Simple ingredients and punchy seasonings — sea salt, sweet sriracha, garlic and onion, and mesquite BBQ — make these crunchy broad beans from Bada Bean Bada Boom a no-brainer.
Peanut Butter Pretzels
A huge reason to love these peanut butter pretzels? You know, aside from how the creamy PB center perfectly balances out the crunchy pretzel shell? The fact that they’re so damn filling. Just make sure you have a drink nearby because these bad boys will give you a serious case of dry mouth.
You’ve got no shortage of reasons to reach for these fruit snacks by Yum Earth. Need a list? Well, they’re USDA organic, gluten-free, vegan, free from the top eight allergens, and have no artificial dyes, flavors, or high-fructose corn syrup.
Dang is right — as in, dang, these coconut chips from Dang are good. OK, sorry, I’ll see myself out.
Don’t knock it until you try it! You can get some seriously good-for-you vitamins, like B-12, and minerals, like iodine, through seaweed. Ocean’s Halo always turns out amazing quality products, and these Korean BBQ seaweed snacks prove no different.
‘Healthy’ Chocolate Chip Cookies
Annie’s is synonymous with healthier food choices, so it’s always delightful when the brand creates sweet treats you don’t feel bad about scarfing down. These chocolate chip cookie bites boast certified organic real ingredients, so they’re basically health food, right? (*wink wink*) PS: They’re so tiny and adorable!
You can’t get much simpler (or tastier) than dried fruit. Peeled’s tropical blend features mango and papaya harvested “at their peak” and kicked up a notch with real lime flavor.
Nutella & Go
Nutella may not be the healthiest choice on this list, but no one can argue it isn’t a gift to your tastebuds. Built-in portion control makes these Nutella & Go cups a smart pick. Although, in full disclosure, you won’t get any judgment here if you reach for more than one.
Black Bean Crisps
You might be thinking that black bean crisps can’t possibly satisfy your cravings. You’d be surprised, though! Harvest Snaps Black Bean Snack Crisps are the kind of crunchies you won’t be able to stop shoveling in your mouth — especially in this mango chile-lime flavor.
You can’t very well have a list of the best road trip snacks and not include Pringles, can you? You know what they say: Once you pop, you can’t stop! These snack stacks make for a perfectly portable grab.
You can’t really go wrong with biscuit sticks dipped in chocolate cream. Opt for these Pocky delights if you aren’t a fan of manually dipping the Nutella & Go sticks.
Ah, I can just taste the strangely pleasing cheese-flavored powder now. Combos’ filled pretzel snacks may not be the most wholesome choice on this list, but they sure are fun.
Again, these savory flavored rings aren’t going to win any healthy snacking awards — they’re basically spun air and corn starch with a liberal heap of onion powder. You know what, though? They’re a joy to eat.
The Ultimate Treat Experience
If you want to throw caution to the wind and seriously indulge on your next road trip, I’ve got one word for ya: CraveBox. This 60-count care package comes complete with a glorious mix of sweet, salty, savory, and healthy snacks from all your favorite snacking brands. Hello, road trip snack nirvana!