Best Road Trip Ever, Part 1: The 27 Best Road Trip Snacks (2024)

It’s no secret that many of us are itching to travel, and new data from the Amex Trendex, a data resource from American Express that researches people’s feelings toward travel and spending, reveals that 41% of consumers would give up internet for a month to be able to travel safely again. The same data, collected at the end of May, found that 62% of people would feel most safe traveling by car, aligning with most trending forecasts that indicate the coming months will be the summer of road trips. To help you pack for the greatest road trips across America this summer, Best Road Trip Ever is a four-part series bringing you the best snacks, bags, gadgets, gear and clothes to bring on your next adventure. In this edition, the 27 best road trip snacks from Best for Crunch Cravings to Best for Snack Snobs are presented.


Most Fun Flavors

Who says potato chips should get all the fun flavors? The BOLD collection of Blue Diamond Almonds steps up the nut game with varieties like Habanero BBQ, Sriracha, Salt ‘n Vinegar and the brand new Spicy Dill Pickle, and the entire line is available in 1.5-ounce “tubes” (packets) ideal for pouring straight into your mouth to keep your fingers and upholstery seasoning-free. (Larger bags and cans also available, of course!).

Best for Skin-timate Trips

Don’t go crazy; this is about the nuts’ skin, not yours. The Wrapped Cashews line from Karma Nuts eliminates the less healthy oil frying of traditional cashews in favor of air frying the nuts in their natural skins, upping the crunch factor, maintaining more nutrition and boosting flavor. Sweet tooths will love Cinnamon or Cocoa Dusted while traditionalists will appreciate Sea Salt and flavor-fiends should go for Lime Twist or Golden Turmeric.

Most Sugar-Sensible

Add a kick of sweetness to your nut-crunching without a sugar overload with SkinnyDipped Cashews. Where traditional candy-coated almonds are heavy on sugar and light on nut, these cashews are dusted with the thinnest of sweet layers to focus on the protein and fiber of cashews. Grab resealable pouches of Dark Chocolate Cocoa or Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel and remember to stash them in the cooler to keep the chocolate from melting.

Bars and Bites

Best for Bellies

You might be expecting all protein bars and granola bars here, but you’d be seriously missing out if you overlooked probiotic- and prebiotic-rich CORE Bars. Probiotics need prebiotics in order to work, and CORE bars are packed with both, from real foods, to give your core everything it needs on the go (or any time). Even better, they’re comfortably filling and come in six seriously yummy flavors from Blueberry Banana Almond to Peanut Butter Chocolate. For an extra pick-me-up on the road, also grab a few caffeinated CORE Energy Bars, including Mocha Chip Espresso and Strawberry Basil Tea. Pop these in the cooler to keep them fresh.

Most Deliciously Deceptive

If a plant-based, gluten-free snack bar of all organic ingredients sounds like zoo food to you, the name Monkey Bar won’t do much to change your mind but the flavor will. Made entirely of apple, banana and cashew (ABC!), the individually wrapped energy bars look and taste something like banana bread for an effect far more scrumptious than a healthy snack seemingly should be. Go bananas on these.

Best for Packed Cars

When the car is more full of passengers than suitcases, you may have a tough time packing snacks that fit everyone’s dietary preferences and a downright difficult time avoiding allergens. Free of all top 8 food allergens, including nuts, KUBEBA Bars deliver at least 12 grams of protein with no more than 5 grams of natural sugars in a small snack with big impact. The new bars are available in Salted Fudge, Blueberry Ginger and Cinnamon Fig.

Best for the Ravenous Snacker

If you tend to plow bag after bag of junk food on long rides (and regret it later), swap the empty calories for a more satisfying bite with the new line of Crunchy Granola Bars from Kodiak Cakes, specifically designed to help you feel full quicker and longer. Flavors like Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Maple Brown Sugar will give you all the sweetness you crave along with 10 grams of protein per 100%-whole-grain serving.

Best for Trips with your Woke Friends

Okay, the name of these power bars has nothing to do with your social awareness and everything to do with their primary source of protein, whole egg yolk. While you may not be in need of their muscle-building benefits on a long ride, Woke Protein Bars from Fourth & Heart help regulate appetite and mood while keeping your muscles, ligaments and tendons in tip-top shape with grass-fed collagen that also helps your hair, skin and nails for an all-over boost when your regular routine has gone out the window.

Best for Butter Buffs

Most granola bars leave a flood of crumbs behind while protein bars can lack (good) flavor, but Abby’s Better Nut Butter Bites suffer neither flaw. Instead, these soft, sweet and raw bites are big in flavor with no mess, and varieties like Coconut Cashew and Vanilla Cashew are particularly high in protein. If you’re less concerned with protein-packing on the go, venture out into the more desert-y offerings of Apple Cinnamon Walnut and Brownie Walnut instead.

Best for Sweet Bites

When softer bites are your top choice and you want to make a healthier selection but still need a solid dose of sweet, stock the car with Berg Bites. With nutrients and energy from oats, nuts and seeds, there’s also plenty of guilt-free natural sweetness in these addictive morsels that come in four varieties: Dark Chocolate Banana Bread, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Sunflower Butter White Chocolate and Almond Butter and Jelly. If you find you prefer bars to bites, you’re still in luck; Berg Bars are newly available in the same four varieties.

Cheesy Snacks

Best for Vegans and other Cheese-Averse

When you love cheese flavors but don’t love (or can’t have) cheese, Brass Roots Crunch Puffs may be the car snack for you. With flavors like Jalapeño Cheddar and White Cheddar (and Truffle Rosemary for those less cheese-obsessed), the snack sticks are on the more solid side of “puff” and are grain-free, top-8-allergen-free (including milk) and vegan. Bonus: 8 grams of protein per serving make these far more nutritious than those orange, gas station cheese puffs that leave powder all over your car.

Best for Cheese Nuts

Can’t decide if your favorite snack is cheese or nuts? Don’t choose. Hilo Life snack packs combine crispy cheese crunches with seasoned nuts in two distinct flavors of Super Cheesy (cheddar cheese crunches and almonds in a zesty cheese seasoning) and Really Ranchy (gouda crunches with pecans in an herb ranch seasoning) specifically designed for the calorie counters. The net carbs in each pack can be counted on one hand.

Best for Purists

It’s not hard to guess the full list of ingredients in original Just the Cheese snack bars and mini bites: It’s . . . just the cheese. Made with 100% Wisconsin cheese baked into crispy snack bars and mini rounds, Just the Cheese snacks are packed with the same protein level as leading protein bars and meat bars with no sugars and far fewer carbs. If you branch out to some of the brand’s more adventurous flavors, like Jalapeño Cheddar or Garlic & Chive, you’ll encounter a second or third ingredient (those would be jalapeños, garlic and chives in case you weren’t paying attention).

Best for Converting Unhealthy Snackers

For the kids, friends or partner(s) in crime who simply refuse to try healthier alternatives to the convenience store snack aisle, sneak some bags of Barbara’s Cheese Puffs into the car. With all the crunch of the over-processed, hyper-orange snacks you’re used to, but with whole-grain, real-cheese recipes that promote conscious eating over mindless snacking, think of these puffs like a gateway snack toward healthier habits. Beyond Original, varieties include Baked, White Cheddar, Multigrain Cheddar Jack and Jalapeño.

Crackers, Chips and Cookies

Best for Crunch Cravings

Mary’s Gone Crackers has long been known to the gluten-free crowd, but it’s time to add a few boxes from this mindful brand to every road trip snack list. Also allergen-free, vegan and certified organic, these super crunchy crackers are made with whole ingredients like quinoa, brown rice, flax and sesame seeds, and are fab on their own for easy driver snacking or with sensible car dips, like hummus, for passengers. If you have finicky snackers onboard who won’t touch anything that looks healthy, try the Real Thin Crackers for more seamless deception.

Best for Keeping the Doctor Away

Not all chips are made from potato, and they’re often better for you when they’re not. Fuji & Reds Apple Chips from Bare are as straightforward as they sound: Washington apples are sliced and baked into crispy chips with absolutely nothing added, then packed into resealable bags perfect for on-the-go snacking that will leave you feeling uplifted instead of sluggish. Bonus: You’ll also avoid all the car crumbs and greasy fingerprints left behind by traditional potato chips.

Best for Party Fowls

Forget the party fouls (especially while driving) and bring on the party fowls with Flock Chicken Chips. These low-carb (0-1 grams per bag), high-protein (13 grams) chips are California-made with wok-fried skins sourced from American chickens and contain no artificial ingredients. The snack bags are perfect for on-the-go munching, but feel free to add them to your salad (or even a sandwich!) when you stop for a roadside lunch. Try them in Original, BBQ and Salt & Vinegar.

Best Cookie Upgrade

Want a cookie that adds more than pounds to your body while snacking on the road? The Complete Cookie from Lenny & Larry’s is something of a protein bar in disguise, bringing fiber and protein in the form of healthier baked goods that eschew dairy and eggs. Thicker and chewier than traditional cookies, these vegan treats come in wild varieties like Birthday Cake, Apple Pie and Chocolate Donut, along with options for tamer tastes like Oatmeal Raisin and Lemon Poppyseed.

Just For Fun

Best Sweet Snack

It’s just not a road trip without candy, and there’s no more traditional or well-loved treat than a handful than HARIBO Goldbears. Certainly grab a bag or two for your drive, but summer road trippers should also snag a bag (or 5) of limited edition Passport Mix to inspire their adventures with gummies collected from HARIBO’s international collection. They’re only available until September, though, so stock up!

Most Traditional Chew

Jerky and road trips go hand-in-hand, packed in nearly every overstuffed vehicle and replenished at roadside service stations regularly, so meat eaters will definitely want to stock up before heading out. Country Archer Jerky Co.’s chewy treats come in a wide variety flavors from Mango Habanero to Sriracha, all with a grass-fed and grass-finished protein punch free of preservatives, nitrites, MSG, gluten, antibiotics and added hormones. If you’re less of a chewer, opt for the new snack sticks.

Best for Snack Snobs

To elevate your snack game without fully abandoning the traditional road trip musts, bring along some biltong from Stryve. With up to 50% more protein that traditional jerkies and no sugar, biltong is air dried rather than heat-blasted so it maintains more of its meaty qualities. Stryve’s sliced Beef Biltong comes in car-friendly resealable bags in six flavors including Peri Peri, Zesty Garlic and Original, created from a 17th Century South African recipe. Three varieties are also available in sticks.


Most Groundbreaking Kombucha

There are two reasons kombucha naysayers shun the gut-healthy drink: It needs to stay refrigerated and it tastes like vinegar. KÖE overcomes both of these issues with its fruit-forward, shelf-stable canned kombuchas, making them ideal road-trip take-alongs. The black-tea-based sparkling beverages come with 15 grams of caffeine for modest on-the-road energy and come in fab flavors like Raspberry Dragonfruit, Blueberry Ginger and Strawberry Lemonade.

Best for Summer Vibes

It just isn’t summer without lemonade, but if you’d rather save your sugar budget for a bag full of candy, pack Calypso Light Lemonade for your road trip. New for 2020, these 5-calorie bottles taste the same as sugar-packed lemonades (but with 0 grams) and come in four varieties including Original, Strawberry, Ocean Blue and Southern Peach, all perfect for your strongest summertime cravings, or for indulging little ones without suffering a sugary energy explosion in your cramped car later.

Most Protein-Packed

Forget about packing protein powder and trying to mix shakes or drinks on the road, and pack ICONIC Protein Drinks instead. The ready-made, 11.5-ounce drinks deliver 20 grams of grass-fed protein and plenty of electrolytes to keep you hydrated and energized on your drive. As an added bonus, they’re low on sugars (3 grams per bottle) and calories (130-140) and come in delish flavors like Chocolate Truffle, Café Latte and Turmeric Ginger.

Best Caffeine without Coffee

Who knows when the next rest stop with fresh coffee will be available, and do you really want another hot drink or to be quite that jittery on your long drive anyway? GOJAI Organic Sparkling Water delivers 45 milligrams of caffeine with no calories, sugar or preservatives for a sensible energy boost without the crash that often follows coffee or typical energy drinks. With summery flavors like Orange, Grapefruit and Lemon, they’re the perfect match for a summer drive and the skinny cans will fit any cupholder.

Adult Drinks

Do not consume any of the following products while driving. These adult “snacks” for the 21+ crowd should be enjoyed responsibly, and only when the day’s travels are complete.

Best for Un-wine-ding

Clunky wine bottles are not ideal for road trip packing and you’re likely to regret investing in most boxed wines, so opt for premium canned wine from Ah-So for your evening unwind. Spain’s first canned wine, a 100% organic, sustainably produced (and canned) grenache, is perfectly portioned, easily transported and significantly higher quality than most of those cute little juice box wines you’ve tried. Bonus: With varieties including Red, White, Rosé and Bubbles, you don’t have to worry about wasting half a bottle when your companions and you can’t agree on the color.

Most Spirited

A little juice, a little vodka, a little ice and there you have an easy summer evening co*cktail. Of course, on a road trip, you’re unlikely to have easy access to ice, so pack NEFT Vodka. This premium, small-batch vodka comes in an unbreakable barrel container that not only assures you won’t have broken glass if the ride gets bumpy but keeps the vodka cold for up to 6 hours after refrigeration. There’s no more travel-friendly spirit than this, perfect for mixing your own drink or just sipping neatly before turning in.

You can find Best Road Trip Ever, Part 2: Backpacks And Weekenders here.

You can find Best Road Trip Ever, Part 3: Clothes And Accessories here.

You can find Best Road Trip Ever, Part 4: Gadgets And Gear here.

Best Road Trip Ever, Part 1: The 27 Best Road Trip Snacks (2024)
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