Staying Nutritious While Traveling This Summer

Here’s what to pack for trips along with how to eat in airports and gas stations
Staff Writer
road trip


Yes, it's possible to be happy on a road trip without only eating fast food!

Just before heading out the door for the airport or road trip, you’ll find me packing perfect travel snacks and planning for what I’ll pick up along the way. If you’re roadtripping this summer or hitting the friendly skies, let me help you out with a go-to snack list and timely tips for how to find fabulous food along the way.

Yes, You Can Find Healthy Eating Choices at Gas Station Mini-Marts: Here's How.

Shop Before You Go
…because you may not find exactly what you want on the road (and even if you do find it at the airport it will be way more expensive).

Granola Bars: A nourishing snack on their own or a small meal when paired with a Greek yogurt, protein-rich bars such as Kashi Chewy Granola Bars or Nature Valley Chewy Protein Bars are a good choice.

Trail Mix: Go for (dry-roasted, low or no salt) nuts and maybe a bit of dried fruit. Avoid trail mixes with added sugar, fat, and calories (aka “clusters”). Keep it easy to pack by taking advantage of small bags that can be enjoyed on their own, used as a topping for yogurt, or combined with whole grain cereal to create a satiating power bowl.

Nut and Seed Butter Packets: Bring along peanut, almond, sunflower, or soy butter packets and you know that you have the start to a better breakfast or light lunch at your fingertips. Take this a step further by packing small bags of crackers for an affordable, super snack.

Boxed Meals: If you haven’t come across boxed meals like these from GoPicnic on your grocer’s shelves, then I suggest checking them out. Available in allergy-sensitive/gluten-free varieties, these boxes don’t require refrigeration and offer a nice balance of nutrients (especially for younger travelers).

Chia On-the-Go: Can’t bear to be without your chia? Pick up Mamma Chia Squeeze or Health Warrior Chia Bars.

Just Add Water: Protein-rich oatmeal cups, low-sodium dehydrated soups, and the like that just require hot water can fill you up for free when you are traveling and are easy to pack.

Good Ole Snacks: Be sure to grab some better-for-you snacks like small bags of light popcorn, “popped” corn, rice, or seaweed snacks, and other low-calorie, low-sodium selections. You will likely want a snack and buying them ahead of time will save you money and give you more choice.

If You’re Hitting the Open Road
You have shopped, packed, and loaded the car with Tetris-like precision. What happens when you (or your joyful passengers in the back) get hungry? There are many options available at gas station shops. Take a look around and you are bound to find these items:

Cheese sticks (to pair with the crackers you packed)
Low or non-fat, Greek yogurt (top with the trail mix you bought)
Whole wheat bread (for the nut or seed butter you picked up)

Ready for Take Off
You’ve packed “security friendly” snacks. Don’t forget to bring along an empty water bottle to fill up so that you can remain hydrated. At the airport, you can pick up a few items to pair with the snacks you packed:

Greek yogurt (top with nuts or have alongside your crackers and nut/seed butter)
Hot water (for your soup or oatmeal)

If you are looking for a meal at the terminal, seek out the better options such as sushi, salad bars, and the like. A long day of travel may also mean a long day of eating, so smaller, healthful choices are best.

Allison Stowell is a nutritionist for Guiding Stars.

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