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Best Food For Long Road Trips + Tips To Make Them Last

If you are planning a long road trip anytime soon, chances are you will want to look at these great ideas for delicious foods for road trips. 

Oftentimes, no matter if you are traveling out west through Montana or down south through North Carolina, long trips can tempt us to just stop at the nearest gas station or fast food restaurant for a quick meal or snack before getting back on the road. 

But, stopping for fast food can get quite expensive very quickly and everyone knows that fast food isn’t very healthy for you. 

What are the best foods for road trips?

Standard picnic food like bags of sandwiches, salads, fruits and nuts are some of the best foods you can pack for your next long road trip. All of these foods are easy to prepare and store, while still being tasty, healthy, and more affordable than food you’ll get on the road.

The best foods for road trips have a few things in common. 

They are easy to make so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time preparing them and they’re easy to store so that things don’t get messier than they need to. 

They are also more nutritious and less expensive than stopping at a fast-food restaurant, and most importantly, they are delicious and give you the energy to continue pressing on down the road.

Through my many years of traveling, I’ve spent months in the car road tripping around the US and abroad. 

I’ve had lots of time to try and test out new ideas and decide which are my favorites, so rest assured that these are the best road trip foods to pack on your next trip.

What To Consider When Deciding What Foods To Pack

There are many things to consider when deciding what foods to pack for your road trip. 

The amount of time in the car and how much cooler capacity you have are both really important things you will need to think about when planning. 

Not to mention how often you plan on eating in the car and deciding which foods will be easiest and cleanest to pack.

Make Sure You Have A Good Cooler

Having a good cooler is probably the most important thing you’ll need to successfully pack all the snacks and meals you need into your car. 

Many of the foods and drinks you’ll want to bring will need to stay cool over long periods of time, or you may risk spoiling them. 

Make sure that you have a heavy duty cooler, with plenty of space and make sure that it is continuously stocked with the necessary ice and ice packs. 

Depending on the length of the trip and how much cooler space you have, it may be easier to focus on bringing fewer foods that need to constantly be kept cold, so consider this when deciding what foods to bring.

Best Food For Long Road Trips 1

Packaging

Lugging around a bunch of bulky dirty dishes or using old containers that don’t seal properly can cause a lot more problems than it’s worth. 

You’ll want to bring foods that are easy to pack, have little potential for messes and make cleaning easy with as little waste and dirty dishes as possible. 

Obviously prepackaged snacks like chips or peanuts can make your life a lot easier in this respect, with no clean up and only a small bag or can to throw away. 

However, when it comes to preparing your own food to bring with you, I suggest using some old take out containers to store your meals, as these are small, lightweight, and can be stored together until you are able to clean them.

Ziplock bags are also a great thing to use to store small snacks or sandwiches and can easily be reused or thrown away. 

Along the same line, be careful when packing foods like fruits and bread that can easily get smashed by all the other foods in a full cooler. 

It’s best to pack these things on top of all your other more structurally sound foods and drinks. 

Eat them early on in the trip if possible and consider skipping some of the more delicate food options altogether if possible.

When it comes to drinks, I suggest getting a refillable water bottle.

These are a must on long trips, as they help you avoid buying water bottles over and over again and can easily be refilled at any rest stop. 

As for drivers that need a little pick me up to keep them going, hot coffee can easily be stored in a thermos and kept warm all day long. 

Bring Condiments, Napkins, And Other Utensils

When planning for a road trip, it can be easy to overlook some of the other things you need along with all of your snacks and meals.

If you are someone that likes to put ketchup on everything, small condiment packets like the ones you get at the drive-through work perfectly to provide you with the correct portion of ketchup or mustard for your packed meal.

Napkins and reusable plastic utensils are also very important to remember, especially when you’ve made your own meals. 

Nothing feels worse than opening up that first road trip meal just to realize you can’t eat it because you forgot a fork.

And Napkins are equally, if not more so, important for making sure that you and your car stay nice and tidy before, during, and after your meal, so make sure not to forget to bring these important items on your next road trip,

The Best Road Trip Foods

So what are the best foods for road trips? Like I said before, the best road trip foods are easy to make and easy to store while still being delicious and nutritious and all of the food below meet that mark. 

I’ve split all of my favorite road trip foods into snacks, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, so you’ll easily be able to find the road trip foods you are looking for.

The Best Road Trip Snacks

Even if you don’t plan on bringing all of the meals you plan on eating on your trip with you, chances are that you’ll want to bring some snacks in the car with you anyway. 

Luckily snacks generally require very little preparation and are easy to store, oftentimes without a cooler. 

The best road trip snacks are small, easy to eat and they give you the energy to keep pushing on down the road without making unnecessary stops. 

Prepackaged foods like bags of chips or pretzels, boxes of crackers or cans of nuts all work great here but I suggest making your own snack mix that you can store in your own container. 

For anyone who is a bit more crafty, you can even make your own snack tub with separate compartments for different snacks.

Fruit works as a great snack too, either fresh or dried. 

You can easily mix dried fruits like raisins or dried banana chips into your snack mixes but fresh fruit like apple slices, clementines and bananas can keep you focused and energetic while on the road. 

Remember that it is important to bring a variety of your favorite snacks with you so that you don’t get bored eating a bag of pretzels for the 5th time in two days. 

This applies even more for longer trips. 

I’ve included all of my favorite road trip snacks in this list below.

Frito Lay Classic 50 bags
  • (12) 1 oz. bags of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips
  • (10) 1 oz. bags of Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips
  • (16) 1 oz. bags of Cheetos Crunchy Cheese Flavored Snacks
  • (8) 1 oz. bags of Fritos Original Corn Chips
  • (4) 1 oz. bags of Lay’s Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Potato Chips
  • Box of crackers
  • Can of assorted nuts
  • Trail mix, either homemade or store bought
  • Granola, cereal, or protein bars
  • Pita bread with hummus or peanut butter
  • Beef jerky 
Jack Link's Beef Jerky, Original - Flavorful Meat Snack for Lunches, 13g Protein and 100 Calories, Made with 100% Beef - No Added MSG** or Nitrates/Nitrites, 1.25 oz (Pack of 10)
  • GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN – Protein is an essential part of diets and Original Beef Jerky is a delicious way to get more With 13g of protein and 100 calories per serving, it's a protein-packed meat snack that helps keep you satisfied when you need it most
  • MADE WITH 100% BEEF – Our Original Beef Jerky is made with lean cuts of 100% beef. It's 96% fat free and has no added MSG** and no added nitrates or nitrites. **Except for that naturally occurring in soy sauce, hydrolyzed corn protein, and yeast extract
  • FULL ON FLAVOR – We (arguably) didn't invent jerky – we just created the flavor that put it on the map. Our Original Beef Jerky is marinated in our signature blend of herbs and spices and slow cooked over hardwood smoke for that timeless jerky flavor.
  • CONVENIENT 10 PACK – This pack includes 10, 1.25 oz. single-serving bags so you always have a protein-packed meat snack on hand. Pack in lunches, bring to work for powering thru the mid-morning munchies and keep in the pantry for an afterschool snack.
  • LUNCHBOX READY – Ready to eat, 1.25 oz. packs require no refrigeration and are a great way to get protein in your kids' lunch (or yours). No leftovers. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if they ask for two bags.
  • Homemade cookies
  • Assorted fruits like bananas, apples, clementines etc.
  • Easy to transport vegetables like baby carrots, bell pepper slices or celery and veggie dip
  • String or any other portable, small packaged cheese
  • A bit of your favorite candy

Best Road Trip Breakfasts

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it makes sense that you would want to make sure that you have a solid breakfast to get you ready and keep you energized for your long day on the road.

If you are leaving from a hotel, it’s definitely worth checking to see if they have a free continental breakfast to take advantage of. 

However, if you are planning on leaving the road extra early, or your hotel doesn’t offer breakfast, there are lots of great foods that you can pack to ensure that you get that early morning energy you need. 

It may be tempting to simply stop at McDonalds for a breakfast sandwich in the morning, but it should be noted that preparing your own breakfast sandwiches beforehand is a really easy way to avoid the stop.

Breakfast sandwiches like ham, egg, and cheese on an English muffin are easy to prepare and pack in small sandwich bags.

It’s even quicker and easier if you substitute hard-boiled eggs for the usual scrambled or fried eggs on your sandwiches. 

Dry cereal or granola are also great things to bring along for breakfast on the road.

And can easily be stored in ziplock bags, small containers, or simply the box that it came in. 

For those that have the right sized containers and are willing to do a bit more prep work, making your own parfaits with yogurt and store-bought granola can really spice things up and give you a breakfast you’ll look forward to.

Pastries like muffins or scones, whether homemade or store-bought, are quick and easy options for breakfast as well.

And for those of you that enjoy baking bread, a homemade loaf of banana or pumpkin bread are great things to bring along too and can easily be wrapped in plastic wrap or tin foil.

Again variety is important, so I’ve included all these ideas as well as a few of my other favorites in this list below.

  • Ham, egg, and cheese English muffins or any other of your favorite breakfast sandwiches
  • Cereal or granola
Bear Naked Granola Cereal, Breakfast Snacks, Variety Pack (3 Bags)
  • A delicious blend of whole grain oats and the taste of Cacao and Cashew Butter, Triple Berry, or Fruit and Nut
  • Our soft-baked granola is a tasty way to start your day; Stock your pantry with 3 varieties
  • Vegetarian; Non-GMO Project Verified; Kosher OU-D
  • Take-anywhere resealable pouch makes for the perfect portable healthy snack; Bowl it, palm it, bag it
  • Includes 1 case containing 3 pouches of Bear Naked Granola; Packaged for freshness and great taste
  • Homemade parfaits
  • Any of your favorite berries like strawberries or blueberries 
  • Bagels and cream cheese
  • Muffins and scones
  • Banana or pumpkin bread
  • Biscuits and jam 
  • Croissants and nutella
  • Yogurt or applesauce 
  • Bananas 
  • Avocados

Best Road Trip Lunches

Eventually, lunchtime will come and you’ll probably want something a bit more filling to keep you going throughout the rest of the day. 

Some of the best and easiest options to pack for lunch in the car are assorted sandwiches. 

Whether it with your favorite lunch meat and cheese, or a classic peanut butter sandwich, sandwiches are easy to make and easily packed into ziplock bags.

However, one thing that I try to avoid putting on my road trip sandwiches is jelly or jam. 

Though peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a classic staple, especially if traveling with young children, jelly tends to make bread quite soggy over time and by the time you get to eat the sandwich it will most likely be falling apart in the bag you packed it in. 

No one wants a soggy sandwich on the road, so avoid using jelly on your sandwiches when packing on a road trip.

Along with sandwiches, wraps are also a great lunch item to bring with you on a road trip with all of the same benefits of a sandwich, while also being less likely to be smashed in the cooler, like a normal sandwich with bread might. 

If you have some extra take out containers laying around, preparing your own salads to bring for lunch is another great option, and if you aren’t up for the prep work, store bought, prepackaged salads from your local grocery store will do the trick too. 

And if you have an extra thermos laying around, you can always keep your favorite soup warm until you want it.

As always, I’ve compiled all of my favorite road trip lunch ideas in this list below.

  • Lunchmeat and cheese, peanut butter and banana, or egg or chicken salad sandwiches
  • Veggie and hummus wraps
  • Homemade or prepackaged salads
  • Dried sausage, cheese and crackers
  • Soup in a thermos

Best Road Trip Dinners

In my opinion, dinner is the one meal that I actually suggest stopping for.

Sitting down for a nice hot meal after a long day of driving is a really great way to reward yourself, and let yourself wind down and relax a bit. 

It can also give you the chance to get a closer look at some of the places you’ve been traveling through, and the opportunity to try some local cuisine. 

However, if you are in a hurry or simply don’t want to stop at a restaurant, there are still some great options that you can bring with you for dinner.

Dinner is often the meal that you’ll have to spend the most time prepping beforehand, however, there are more simple ideas to make sure that you get a hearty and satisfying dinner. 

Things like rotisserie chicken or premade pulled pork can be your best friend here.

Rotisserie chicken can be shredded and used for an assortment of different dinners. 

You can add it to a salad to make it more hearty and filling, and it can be used in wraps or put on pita bread with some veggies to make a simple and easy dinner. 

Hard boiled eggs also work great to make a salad more filling. 

Pulled pork can be easily stored in a container and then brought out and put on bread or buns to make some quick pulled pork sandwiches.

Things like pasta salad or potato salad are also great foods to bring with you for dinner as well, and if you are really looking to treat yourself, a homemade burrito bowl with lettuce, tomato, rice beans, cheese, and avocado can offer a variety of different flavors to reward yourself with while filling you up with ease.

Not to mention that they can be stored and kept really easily in any leftover take out containers you have. 

You can find these foods and a few other of my favorites in this list below.

Campbell's Chunky Soup, Beef with Country Vegetables, 18.8 Ounce (Pack of 12) (Packaging May Vary)
  • READY TO EAT SOUP: Enjoy the savory, hearty flavors of beef simmered with veggies like carrots, celery, peas and potatoes
  • 15 GRAMS OF PROTEIN: Each can contains 15 grams of protein—Fill Up Right
  • FILL UP THE RIGHT WAY: Each bowl is an easy and delicious way to satisfy your hunger after the big game or after a workout
  • HEAT & SERVE CANNED SOUP: Just open, add it to a pot or microwave-safe bowl, and heat on stove or in the microwave when you're hungry and crunched for time
  • Ships as pack of 12, 18.8 ounce recyclable cans
  • Salads with rotisserie chicken or hard-boiled eggs
  • Wraps or pita with shredded chicken and veggies
  • Pulled pork sandwiches
  • Pasta salad
  • Potato salad
  • Homemade burrito bowl
  • Cold pizza