Top 10 Travel Snacks for Family Vacations (Real Food Tips)

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 travel 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.*

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Here are my top 10 travel snacks for family vacations

  1. Homemade Trail Mix or Granola – Choose a simple, store-bought trail mix or bag up some yummy homemade granola cereal that you can just eat dry out of your hand.
  2. Simple store-bought Fruit and Nut Bars (or homemade!) – We personally like Lara Bars, Kit’s Organic and Raw Crunch. (Tip use coupon code “100DAYS” for 15% off your online Raw Crunch purchase.) or the homemade version of dried fruit and nut bars (more work but totally worth it!)
  3. Whole-Grain Muffins – there are so many options for delicious muffin recipes!
  4. Apples or Bananas (with our without an individual packet of peanut butter)
  5. Frozen Peas – you can enjoy them frozen and they double as an icepack for anything else you’re bringing
  6. Washed, Peeled, and Sliced Veggies like Carrots, Cucumbers and/or Celery – pack them in a divided lunch container with hummus or homemade dip like ranch or tzatziki – yum!
  7. Organic Popcorn
  8. Dried Fruit or Homemade Fruit Leathers
  9. Cherry Tomatoes or Grapes
  10. Whole-Grain Crackers or Brown Rice Cakes – you can make your own Easy Cheesy Crackers or for store bought our favorite brand is “ak-mak.”

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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66 thoughts on “Top 10 Travel Snacks for Family Vacations (Real Food Tips)”

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  1. We go hiking, often. I was able to find a dehydrator really cheap while in Switzerland. Pretty sure they are even cheaper in the States. I make dried fruit and beef jerky all the time. The dogs love the beef jerky too. Plus for everyone.

  2. I am confused by the recommendation o carry nuts onto a plane The scariest thing in the world. Is to have a nut allergy, be confined in such a small spe and worry that th person next to you will eat nuts. Please be careful abou t nut on planes.

  3. Rubbermaid makes a divided lunch container. I think it’s called EasyBalance or something like that. Also I am newly diagnosed diabetic and have been encouraged to cut out processed foods. Looks like your information could be useful to me on this new journey. Thanks

  4. I am super confused by the Justin’s nut butters, they have palm oil in them and I thought palm oil was bad for you?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Beth. We do buy Justin’s sometimes but as a more general rule, nut butters do not need added oils.

  5. I travel by air nearly every week for work (I did 92 segments last year on United). My carry on bag always has the following:

    -Bag of raw almonds (true raw almonds sourced directly from Bremner Farms in CA)
    -Individual packets of raw almond butter from Artisana. I just open the top and eat it right out of the packet
    -Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake along with a blender ball shaker cup. Good for an emergency meal if your stuck.
    -Oatmega snack bars made from grass fed whey, non-GMO, and low in sugar
    -Go Raw brand organic snack bars
    -Kind snack bars: pretty common now. Can usually find at most airports.
    -And…. good old Bananas which you can find everywhere at airports (even Starbucks usually sells them)

    I have noticed a trend that airports are getting better and better food. For example, the Rick Bayless restaurant Tortas Frontera in O’Hare lists out on a board the local sources/farms and their farming practices. While not perfect, on a scale of quality it is much better than other typical airport garbage food.

    On last tip. I keep the Yelp app on my phone and I use Yelp and Apple Maps to do searches in my arrival city for the following phrases: “organic restaurant”, “farm to table”, “juice bar”. Very often you can find hidden restaurant gems in a lot of cities that serve local and organic food.

  6. We are about to do a road trip from Tennessee to Colorado so I have tortilla wrap sandwiches, cheese, whole grain crackers (I love Mary’s Gone Crackers), carrots and hummus, dried organic mango slices, and homemade granola bars on the in-car menu, plus lots of water (and probably a couple stops for black coffee along the way). Trying to make it as healthy as possible.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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. :)

    1. If you need to fly with jars of items, put them in your checked luggage. We have flown home with syrups, jellies, even a jar of homemade pickles with no issue. Just put them in a ziploc baggie (just in case) and wrap in something for padding (small towel, clothing, bubble wrap). We’ve never had an issue with those items in checked luggage. For butter/jelly to eat in-flight, it no longer counts as a semi-liquid if it’s already assembled into a sandwich. :-)

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.