We are so excited to start summer road trips! We’re embarking on a 60+ day epic cross-country road trip this summer. Having lots of easy road trip snacks for kids and toddlers is a big part of keeping everyone happy on a long car ride. Kids start arguing in the back seat, or your toddler starting to fuss? Time to whip out another snack!
There’s enough to do when getting ready to leave on a long-distance trip with kids, so all of these options are easy-to-prep and easy-to-pack. We’ve also included ideas for healthy breakfasts and lunches on long car trips.
Here are more than 40 easy road trip snacks for when you’re on the road!
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What Snacks Should I Pack for a Road Trip with Kids or Toddlers?
When planning which snacks to take with you on a long car trip, keep in mind the level of potential mess associated with each snack. Toddlers are infamous for dumping out snack containers, so make sure you’re handing out snacks you’re willing to pick up off the floor later. Stay away from anything that may be a choking hazard in a moving car. Older kids can handle more complicated snacks like fruit salads that require a fork.
Healthy Snacks vs Junk Food
When we’re home we try to keep our snacks pretty healthy. However, when we are on a long-distance car ride, we bend the rules a bit. We all need a treat sometimes! I like to pack a mix of familiar snacks I know my kids will eat, with a few treats mixed in. I know we’ll stop for fast food at least once, but we try to keep that to a minimum.
Fruits & Vegetables
Some fruits and veggies take a little bit of prep time, but they are some of the healthiest road trip snacks for kids. Pair them with hummus for added protein.
Carrots and Celery Sticks
A classic, easy-peasy favorite! Carrots and celery take a bit of prep time, but are high on the “no-mess” scale! You can also buy baby carrots that are already snack-sized.
Cucumber spears or sticks add a bit of variety to the veggie mix, and can also be dipped in hummus, or salad dressing.
Sliced Green Pepper
These are a recent addition to the list of raw veggies my kids will eat. Crispy, crunchy green pepper slices make a great, healthy snack. You can also mix in red and yellow pepper slices and call them “rainbow peppers”.
My youngest daughter could eat a pack of cherry tomatoes in one sitting. They are one of her favorite snacks!
Cold Cooked Edamame in the Pod
Kids love using their mouth to squeeze the edamame out of the pods, just make sure there’s a clear place to put the used pods. Edamame is the Japanese name for soybeans, served hot or cold with sea salt.
Red or green, seedless grapes make a great no-stain, no-mess road trip snack. Make sure you cut them up for toddlers.
Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries.
Berries are great for adding to breakfasts, and for older kids in the car, but be aware that most of these will stain. Blueberries are the least messy of the berry options.
I never give my kids whole apples. First, they never actually finish it, and second, they end up with sticky fingers. I serve pre-sliced apples only until they are old enough to clean up after themselves.
Apple Sauce Pouches
Apple Sauce pouches come in all sorts of varieties. We love the unsweetened, but also sometimes get the Peach, Mixed Fruit, or Cinnamon varieties. There are also apple sauce pouches with vegetables mixed in like sweet potato (the kids will still eat them!). These pouches are small, but with an easy twist top and no mess, the kids love them for a quick pick-me-up.
Raisins or Craisins
These can be passed out in reusable containers, though my kids love the little red raisin boxes that adult fingers barely fit in. Craisins (dried cranberries) are another way to mix things up.
These can be pretty sweet, but are chewy and delicious!
Dried Pineapple Rings
This is one of our kids’ favorites- like the apricots, they are pretty sweet, but at least it’s fruit sugar! Look for organic versions with no added sugar.
Salty Road Trip Snack Ideas
Salty crunchy snacks are high on the “crumb” factor, but the trade-off is no sticky fingers!
Goldfish or Cheddar Crackers
We like to pack a selection of wheat thins, shredded wheat crackers, and pita crackers. These are also great dipped in hummus or paired with cheese.
Cinnamon Graham Bears or Bunnies
These are similar to goldfish but in graham flavors. We like Nature’s Promise (Stop & Shop brand), or Annies Organic Bunny Grahams. Annies also makes Bunny Grahams in Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, and Birthday Cake, but we figure those flavors take them out of the “cracker” category and into the “cookie” category.
These are sort of crackers and sort of cookies, but who can resist the cute boxes? We love to guess what each animal is as we eat it- sometimes it really is a mystery.
Pretzels make a great snack and come in lots of shapes and sizes to keep the boredom factor down. Sticks, twists, mini twists, rods, etc. are all great for dipping in peanut butter or hummus.
Rice cakes are a super healthy snack. Spread them with peanut butter or jelly and the kids are more likely to gobble them up. There are also flavored mini versions available- both sizes an be used to make peanut butter sandwiches.
If there are chips in your trail mix, be sure to keep it out of the sun! Melty chocolate makes an instant mess. We prefer to opt for trail mix with M&Ms mixed in that won’t melt as quickly. This recipe from Happy Hooligans is so easy- and it will save you a ton of money versus buying the store-made stuff.
This stuff is salty and covered in flavoring dust. Not my favorite, but my kids love it! They have a series of flavors that I can never keep straight, from Cheddar to Savory to Sweet.
There’s a wide variety of granola bars out there. Check for sugar content, they are never as healthy as I want them to be. We like the Kashi chewy granola bars.
Mini Bagels come in a variety of flavors from plain to everything flavored. They are great to snack on plain, or with cream cheese or jelly.
Almonds or Mixed Nuts
Easy, salty, heart-healthy goodness- look for oven roasted or dry roasted. We often get these at Aldi, check for added oils.
My kids love these vegetable straws, and they are healthier than potato chips. These fall in the “sometimes” category. We stick with the sea salt, we tried the apple variety and no one was a fan.
These baked cheddar cheese puffs are a huge hit with kids. We like the original flavor, which is gluten-free.
OK, technically these British biscuits have currants in them. They are so popular with my kids Santa has been known to put them in stockings!
Sweet Treat Road Trip Snack Ideas
We like to include some sweet treats in our road trip snacks. I look for small or single-serving, easy-to-pack versions of these sweets so we’re not stuck with more cookies or candy than we really want.
One of my favorite memories of road tripping as a kid is sitting on the motel floor, eating Lucky Charms cereal and watching cartoons while my parents packed up the car. We stick to less-sweet cereals for breakfast, but love sugary cereal for a treat! You can often pick up a single serving box of sweet cereal at a motel breakfast buffet to share later.
Fig Newtons, Oreos, anything we haven’t had in a while. I like to grab a couple of the “mini cookie cups”- the tiny cookies are adorable! The grocery store sometimes has them on sale for a dollar. Milanos in a variety of flavors are another solid choice. Either portion cookies out ahead of time or make sure you are buying a re-closable container.
We love fruit snacks! Also called “fruit gummies” in our house. Annies Organic Fruit Bunnies, Frozen-themed fruit snacks, anything goes!
These are a fun, although sticky, alternative to fruit snacks. Look for the organic versions with no added sugar. My kids like the Bear fruit rolls that come with a collectible card.
Not just for ball games! This nostalgic popcorn and peanut treat is a crowd-pleaser.
New Candy to Share
I like to pick out one kind of candy that is new to us. It might be a new flavor of M&Ms or a type of creme-filled cookie we haven’t had before. We all get to try something new and have a treat together.
We love Nutella, but I don’t recommend the Nutella “to-go” packs with dipping breadsticks. They looked like fun, so we tried them- but they were too messy for us!
Chilled Road Trip Snacks for Kids
These healthy road trip snacks will need to be kept chilled in a cooler.
Also known as String Cheese. Bonus points if it has Anna and Elsa’s pictures on it!
Baby Bell Cheese Rounds
The little round cheese snack in the red wax package that you remember from your childhood.
Yogurt Pouches or Tubes
We consider these to be a treat. These can be frozen before you leave to create a colder more refreshing snack. GoGoSqeeZ has them in the same twist-off pouches as the applesauce, which is a huge improvement over the tear-off tubes (which have caused many messes in our car). My only complaint is they have a lot of added sugar.
Salami or Pepperoni
We don’t eat a lot of meat, but these make a good high protein snacks or can be paired with crackers and cheese for lunch.
Hard-boiled eggs add some variety to your available snacks. A good source of protein, they can also be added to an adult lunch salad.
Extra Road Trip Snacks for Toddlers
While toddlers will love a lot of the above suggestions, there are some snacks that specifically appeal to this age group. Make sure to cut toddler snacks into small pieces.
Fruit and Veggie Pouches
These toddler food pouches come in endless varieties. Try a few flavors before you leave so can stock up on pouches you know your kid will eat. We had found that while our kids liked most of these, there were a few flavors they wouldn’t touch.
We love the Plum Organics Mighty 4– they mix fruit and vegetables with a whole grain, and seem to be pretty palatable. These pouches are great because they are light, easy-to-pack, and (usually) not messy! Try to buy them in bulk or pick them up at a discount store like Big Lots, they can be pricey if bought one at a time in the regular grocery stores.
My kids are no longer interested in dry cereal (unless it’s sweet), they now prefer their cereal with milk and raisins. But as toddlers, they loved snacking on plain, organic Toasted O’s.
For road trips, we mostly stick to drinking water. We each have our own water bottle that can be refilled. We try to stay away from sugary drinks when possible.
My girls love their Camelbak water bottles. E has a fun pattern on her water bottle, S has opted for the larger 25 oz size in solid pink. Keep a jug of water in the trunk for refills and be prepared to make bathroom stops!
Younger children and toddlers will need milk to drink. Toddlers will also need a spill-proof sippy cup. Milk comes in handy for adding to breakfast cereal or oatmeal in the mornings. It’s also great for adults to have milk for coffee when the motel only supplies the little creamer packets.
We occasionally splurge on a bottle of flavored seltzer from a gas station. The kids love the black cherry flavor and the fizz wakes us all up a bit. If it spills, it’s still just water, so no sticky mess to clean up.
How to Distribute Road Trip Snacks
There are several ways to handle passing out snacks on a road trip.
For older kids, a basket or bin with all the available options works just fine. You choose the options, they self-regulate how much, what, and when they eat.
For slightly younger kids, an individual bag with each child’s snacks for that day eliminates squabbles over who ate what. Each kid knows what they have for the day, and can decide whether to eat their favorites first or last.
For younger kids and toddlers, adults choose what snack to pass out and when. With a 4 and a 6-year-old, this is the method we use. It lets me judge the mood in the car, and manage treats and surprises. Since I know when we are almost ready to stop for lunch or dinner, this method also allows me to restrict snacks just before stops so we don’t ruin our meals.
A lot of the time when kids are grumbling for snacks they are just bored. I keep a bag of surprise activities with me, so I can decide whether they need a healthy snack, a treat, or a just new activity to keep us all happily moving along.
Breakfast on a Road Trip with Kids and Toddlers
Whenever possible we like to stay at places that offer breakfast. However, even when we know we have a hot breakfast waiting for us downstairs, the kids are usually up early and need to eat breakfast before we have showered and are ready to go.
Instant oatmeal in a single cup serving makes a great breakfast on-the-go! Heat water in the hotel coffee pot, add to the cups, and you have a quick, hot, healthy breakfast.
Dry cereal is great for toddlers, or as a snack for older kids. My kids prefer cereal with milk for breakfast. You can serve it in a plastic cup with a spoon. We stick to Toasted Os to keep it healthy, and often add a handful of raisins.
A cut-up banana makes a great breakfast for a toddler. Big kids can easily peel and eat a whole banana. This is one of the easiest, no-prep required breakfast foods.
Bagels and Cream Cheese
Bagels with cream cheese are a solid way to start the day. Mini bagels are also fun, and can double as a snack food.
Yogurt with Berries or Granola
Plain yogurt is one of our kids’ favorite healthy breakfasts. They love it with a few berries mixed in or some granola on top. Bring a quart container of yogurt and spoon it into plastic cups for the kids to eat from. These can be easily rinsed out in the sink. You can also opt for individual-sized containers or squeeze tubes. We usually avoid the individual cups as they are flavored, which means a lot of added sugar. The kids love them as a special treat.
Road Trip Lunch Ideas for Kids and Toddlers
We try to plan our road trips with a long stop for lunch when possible. For example, when we drive from New England down to Washington D.C., we plan a lunch stop in Philadelphia. We park the car, stretch our legs, get some food to-go, and find a spot to have a picnic lunch. Sometimes we wander around a park or even take a ride on a carousel.
Knowing ahead of time where we are stopping and what the lunch options are means we can avoid rest stops with fast food. It also breaks up the trip, so instead of focusing on the total hours in the car, we can talk about how long until our lunch stop.
Sometimes the best option is a picnic table at a rest stop or park. If you can, take some time to throw a frisbee, kick a ball, or just run races between trees.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Peanut butter and jelly is a kid classic. Peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches are also popular in our house.
Cream Cheese and Jelly
Cream cheese and jelly is a peanut-free alternative for lunch sandwiches.
Hummus and Cheese
For our “nut-free” school lunches we often make hummus, cheddar, and pickle sandwiches, for car trips I leave out the pickles.
Cheese, Salami and Crackers
My kids love to make little “cracker sandwiches” out of crackers, cheese, and salami. The individual ingredients make great snacks, put them together for a nutritious lunch.
Carrots Sticks and Hummus
When all else fails, our kids will always eat carrots and hummus. Or just hummus with a spoon.
Supplies to keep it all Organized
To keep the snacks refilled, and the mess wiped up, you’re going to need some supplies.
Don’t miss Road Trip Essentials: What to Pack for the Ultimate Road Trip in 2021 for a full list of gear and supplies.
Snack Containers and Supplies
Reusable Snack Containers
You’ll need a series of reusable, easy-to-clean snack containers in various sizes. We’ve tried a lot of different snack containers for the kids’ lunch boxes, and Rubbermaid containers are the ones that seem to last. We like this snack set (8 pieces means four containers plus lids).
Plastic Cups with Lids
We use these plastic cups for everything from cold drinks to applesauce to cereal. They are called “Take & Toss” but we’ve been washing and reusing them for a long time. We poke a small air hole in the top so they can be used for seltzer or fizzy drinks, otherwise, the bubbles send the liquid right up the straw.
Toddler Bowls, Spoons and Snack Containers
Toddlers need their own unbreakable, mess-free snack containers. We love Snack Catchers, they hold cereal and crackers even when your toddler waves the container around in the air. We also like these colorful spoons that alert you if their food is too hot.
Cutlery Set and Knife
A good set of travel cutlery means you’ve got all situations covered, from spreading peanut butter to stirring yogurt. A small knife is essential- something always has to be cut evenly to share!
We love our zip-up, carry with a strap, no-fuss picnic blanket. We’ve had this blanket for years and it’s come in handy countless times. We keep ours in the back of the car even when we are not on a road trip!
Coolers and Keeping things Cold
Coolers and ice packs keep all those road trip snacks chilled and unspoiled.
Hard Shell Cooler
Keep a larger hard-shell cooler in the trunk for milk, cheese, drinks, and breakfast or lunch supplies you need to keep cold. Make sure it’s large enough to hold your biggest item upright. For us, that’s usually a half-gallon of milk. We bought this 70-quart cooler last year after losing electricity for four days in mid-summer. It’s supposed to keep things cold for 5 days-thankfully we haven’t had to test that yet. If that seems too big, try this 48-quart cooler that should hold its temp for 3 days.
Soft Cooler Bag
If you have room, a much smaller softshell cooler keeps that day’s snacks and drinks cool and easy to reach in the main part of the car. This soft cooler bag comes in three sizes, so you can choose depending on the size of your family. The 20L version works really well for us. It folds flat and is leakproof. For a picnic, grab this cooler and fill it with whatever you need from the trunk.
Without ice packs, those coolers are pretty useless. These ice packs are extra slim so you don’t take up all your cooler space with ice.
Cleaning Supplies for the Road
You’ll need a few basic cleaning supplies to keep the kids and the car neat and clean.
I keep a stack of napkins in the glove box and refill when necessary. A lot of places no longer give you napkins unless you ask, but with kids, we definitely go through them.
When napkins aren’t enough- you’re going to need a full roll of paper towels.
Wet wipes are essential for sticky fingers, muddy feet, and all sorts of other messes.
You’ll want a stain stick for when all those messes make their way onto your clothes. I keep one in the glovebox.
You’ll need a system for managing trash. At the most basic level, you can use a disposable grocery bag, but it tends to get kicked or knocked over. This car trash bin is either hung on the back of a seat or put between the seats. It’s waterproof and should keep everything contained with a handy side pocket (for wet wipes perhaps?). Empty it at breaks or rest stops.
There You Have it!
Over 40 easy road trips snacks for kids and toddlers to keep everyone fed and happy on the road, as well as all the supplies to keep it neat, clean, and organized.