Real Food Tips: Top 10 Travel Snacks

It’s no secret that we’ve done our fair share of traveling so far this summer. If your family still has some fun trips coming up – whether by car or by plane – below are some snacks that we think are great and easy to take along. Even if you just can’t (or won’t) stick to a real food diet once you get to your destination, I think it’s a good idea to bring some items for the trip there and even to supplement meals once you arrive. What good is a vacation if you feel sluggish (or even sick) from some not-so-great airplane or gas station food? And yes, you can take your own food and empty water bottle through airport security, provided you follow TSA guidelines for anything considered a liquid.*
Top 10 Real Food Travel Snacks-

  1. Homemade Trail Mix or Granola

    Trail mix is easy enough – just mix together a variety of nuts, seeds, and even dried fruit then divide up into little baggies or reusable containers. Or alternatively bag up some yummy homemade granola cereal that you can just eat dry out of your hand. These options can be an especially filling snack for taking up such little space.
    Trail Mix -

  2. Simple Store Bought Fruit & Nut Bars (or homemade!)
    For the store bought versions be sure to check the ingredients for a short list of items you are familiar with and would cook with at home. We personally like Lara Bars, Kit’s Organic and Raw Crunch. (Tip use coupon code “100DAYS” for 15% off your online Raw Crunch purchase.) And yes it’s extra work, but I promise the homemade version of dried fruit and nut bars are even better than you could imagine :)
    Fruit and Nut Bars-
  3. Whole-Grain Muffins
    With so many recipe choices from pumpkin to zucchini to berries to banana nut to cornbread…what’s not to love? You can basically bake any “quick bread” loaf in muffin cups!
  4. Apples or Bananas (with our without an individual packet of peanut butter)
    Apples and bananas by themselves are good, but let’s face it – (if you don’t have an allergy) they are even better topped with peanut or another type of nut butter. Either way though you’ll be light years above a gas station snack with this one.
    banana and PB-
  5. Frozen Peas
    One of the great things about frozen peas – aside from the fact that it’s a veggie my daughters both enjoy – is that if you pack them frozen they can act as sort of a temporary ice pack for any other perishables you decide to take along.
  6. Washed, Peeled, and Sliced Veggies like Carrots, Cucumbers and/or Celery
    For a road trip pack your fresh veggies (and other goodies) in a divided lunch container with hummus or homemade dip like ranch or tzatziki – yum!
  7. Organic Popcorn
    Make your own “homemade” popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag without having to resort to those pre-made bags full of additives and chemicals.
  8. Dried Fruit or Homemade Fruit Leathers
    This is another one of those categories where there are SO many choices…raisins, dried apple rings, dried apricots, dried cranberries, banana “chips,” and any flavor of fruit leather you can imagine. For the store bought variety look at the ingredients to make sure they don’t contain added sugar.
    homemade fruit leather
  9. Cherry Tomatoes or Grapes
    Packaged into the perfect bite-size by nature, these are two incredibly convenient whole foods to take on the road. When it comes to tomatoes Sun Gold cherries are my all time favorite, but a little baggie of any home grown – or locally grown – variety will do.
    Sun Gold cherry tomatoes -
  10. Whole-Grain Crackers or Brown Rice Cakes
    This snack could easily complement many of the snacks mentioned above…you can make your own Easy Cheesy Crackers or for store bought our favorite brand is “ak-mak.” Brown rice cakes are another whole grain alternative to crackers – also good with one of those little nut butter packets. :)

easy cheesy crackers

Also, don’t forget to bring plenty of water along as well. If you will be flying just keep your reusable water bottle empty until you pass through security and then fill up on the other side. Please share your favorite “real food” travel snacks in the comments below!

* You can take solid foods through security, but according to the TSA website, any creamy dips, spreads, or other liquids must be placed in containers 3.4 oz or smaller and placed in a quart clear sized plastic bag. This includes foods such as jelly, peanut butter, spreadable cheeses, sauces, salad dressing, etc.

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  1. Laurie |

    String cheese and hard boiled eggs are another one we usually bring along. We have a smaller cooler we keep in the car on road trips.

    We went through Happy Baby baby squeeze pouches like crazy when we flew with our 13 mo old.

    Just thought of an idea- we have reusable food pouches (Little Green Pouch brand), and we could do yogurt or smoothies in them. We use them for that at home, but on a road trip would be perfect too, and would last longer if were frozen beforehand.

  2. Kerry |

    I love that you have frozen peas here. My son is 4 and has been eating “cold carrots” since he was teething. Frozen sliced carrots are a great travel snack and teething soother.

  3. Valerie S. |

    My daughter has a severe tree nut allergy. We pack snacks every time we leave the house, and I’m always looking for tasty whole snack ideas. You have a lot of great ideas here! Thank you ! Although I think the snacks containing nuts and nut butters are great for traveling in your own vehicle (she can eat peanut butter), I think it’s a little scary to fathom that my child might be exposed to tree-nuts from fellow passengers while on a plane where she can’t get life saving treatment. Epi pens are only the first step in saving someone’s life with a severe allergy. It is really just buying some time til they can receive further emergency treatment at a hospital. Because of this, no exposure is the goal especially while traveling by plane.

    • Leslie |

      I have a child with peanut and tree nut allergies. I totally agree that it is best not to bring nut products on airplanes because of the absence of medical care. You said this so much better than I did in my comment.

      • Valerie |

        Thanks! I am always on alert when I read about snacks containing nuts or recipes where the nut component is hidden. I know that it is more mainstream to feed children healthy nut snacks. My kids had snacks containing nuts before my daughter had her major reaction, so I get it. I just wish that the author of this blog would acknowledge the potential danger she is suggesting in her article. Airplanes and peanut/tree-nut snacks do not mix. I carry Benadryl and two epi pens daily for my child. These emergency medicines will not solely save my child from death, that is a misconception. Good luck to you! If we keep expressing the reality of our situation, eventually it will become more widely accepted and understood.

  4. Karissa |

    This year I an bringing homemade beef jerky on our overseas summer trip as well as live kale crisps I’ve made with the dehydrator and a special tahini/almond butter dressing.

  5. |

    We love air popped popcorn for trips in my family. It is relatively healthy and feels like such a treat too!

  6. |

    Great article man!

  7. Leslie tutty |

    That is an important tip about not bringing jars of peanut butter, jelly, etc. when you fly. My son is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, so we wanted to bring a jar of sunflower seed butter with us on vacation to disney world. The girl at security called out “code (some color)” and she confiscated our jar of sunbutter. I was so confused. I tried to explain that we were bringing it with us because of my son’s allergies, but it was very stressful. We almost missed our connecting flight and made to feel like we were terrorists. Apparently, you are not allowed to fly with semiliquids becaue they are considered a terrorism threat.

    On a side note, I am glad that no one sitting near us was eating nuts or nut butters on the airplane. One of my worst fears is my preschool son having an allergic reaction while flying. Please ask the passengers near you if they have nut allergies prior to eating nut products on an airplane. :)

  8. Rachel |

    Freeze dried fruit. We buy in bulk and then mix bags together of fruit and veg like peas, mango, blueberries, pineapple. Much lower sugar content than air dried fruit and the kids love the light crisp texture.

  9. Linda |

    I usually pack my Protein powder & my shaker cup. Then I can use ice water in a crunch and still have a good snack or meal. Chia seeds to add to yogurts. I usually scope out Trader Joes or Whole foods that will be close and buy yogurts, almond milk or coconut water.

  10. Sandi |

    I understand the concern with nuts on airline (my son has a nut allery) but it is unreasonable to tell people not to bring nuts. People need to take their own precautions. Wipe the armrest and have snacks for yourself or kids that are but free. Personal responsibility will teach your children so much more than expecting others to abide by a nut free policy.

    • Emily |

      I agree, Sandi! I fully understand the terror of exposing your child to an allergy, but the world has allergens everywhere. You cannot ban all allergens from every potential contamination place. It is unreasonable to ask someone to not being peanut butter, etc. on a plane. Bring your meds, change seats if you need to.

      I am a vegan and really struggle to get what I need at an airport, especially good forms of protein that are portable. Packets of peanut butter are a life safer and I bring them whenever I travel.

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