RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Road Food: Articles by Dennis Weaver

Snackin' Better on the Road


Road trip snacks

The highway across North Dakota stretches forever. The northern prairie changes only slowly and the hours stretch into monotony. Bored, you reach for another handful of corn chips and pop the top on another soda to wash them down. The refined carbs hit your system with jolt, but soon you feel bloated and tired. You fight to stay awake, then pull over and change drivers. Soon you're asleep, and your partner is facing the road alone.

Road trips are largely sedentary affairs. Add a little junk food every time you gas up and the ol' belt seems tighter every time you cross another state line.

It doesn't have to be this way. With a little planning, you can snack on better food than chocolate candies and soggy pastries. Not only will your waistline stay under control, but you'll find that the trip is not so tiring when you avoid the junk food sugar rush.

Here are some suggestions for better snackin' on the road -- snacks that are better for you than chips and pastries. Some of these have plenty of calories but are tempered with fiber for a lower glycemic index to avoid that sugar spike and the following crash that makes you so drowsy.

Here are some of our favorite travel snacks:


Grapes, cherries, and apple slices or maybe a banana make for guilt-free goodies. Keep a pocket knife in the glove box for trimming fruit. (You'll be surprised how handy that pocket knife is on an extended trip.) Except for the banana, keep the fruit chilled in cooler.

Cherry tomatoes make another great snack -- wholesome and refreshing. They don't need to be kept in the cooler.

Consider individual fruit servings from your grocer's shelves: applesauce, canned fruit, or mixed fruit.

For adults, put together a fruit salad and keep it chilled in the cooler.

Carrots and celery sticks make great snacks. Prepare them before leaving home.

The kids will be happier with a dip for their veggies or fruit. For the apple slices, mix a little honey and cinnamon into low fat cream cheese. A low fat ranch or thousand island dressing will work for the celery and carrot sticks.

As kids, we snacked on celery with that neat little trough in the center filled with peanut butter or cream cheese. We still like those snack sticks as adults. For the kids, stick raisins in the peanut butter to make Ants on a Log.


Granola is a favorite travel snack. We much prefer the homemade variety; it's better and you can make it just as you like. We indulge ourselves with lots of dried fruit and nuts in our granola. Sure it has some calories but with all that fiber, it makes a great, lower glycemic snack.

Make your own granola with this easy recipe.


Pairing nuts and dried fruit is like eating candy that is good for you. Try pecans and pears or our favorite, cranberries paired with whole almonds.


Your kids won't go for fruit and nuts alone? Try trail mix with additional chocolate pieces. Yes, it's calorie rich but the fiber tempers those calories to make it a better snack. Pick up or make your own granola and add chocolate candies for your own trail mix.


Pick a cookie with oatmeal, fruit, or nuts for road trips. The fiber makes them filling and satisfying. Choose cookies that are tough and will stand up to the handling and jostling of travel. There are lots of great cookie recipes with fiber to choose from.

The ultimate travel cookie may well be ANZAC biscuits. Learn about and make ANZAC biscuits here.


We created these for high energy snacking on the trail, but they work just fine in the car. Take a whole grain tortilla and spread it with reduced fat cream cheese. Sprinkle the cream cheese with nuts and dried fruit (dried pineapple bits are a favorite), and then roll it up like an enchilada. These are surprisingly good, and we've tested them on a lot of Boy Scouts and have had very few turn downs.

Dennis WeaverDennis Weaver -- having burnt food from Miami, Florida to Point Barrow, Alaska -- is RTA's road food expert. He has logged thousands of hours on the roads, trails, and waterways of America including many of Alaska's wilderness rivers and has consistently been elected the trips' "chief cook and bottle washer." Dennis is currently general manager at The Prepared Pantry, a company in Rigby, Idaho, that produces ready-to-eat meals and baking mixes packaged in Mylar. Weatherproof, bug-proof, and critter resistant, they're ideal for both roadtrips and back woods camping. Dennis may be reached at


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