Road Trip Essentials 101

By Ashley Danielson, RDN, LD

Sweet summertime brings on so much nostalgia for me. Playing outside way past my bedtime, spending countless hours at the pool, and taking family road trips. Sometimes it was just to go see Grandma for the day, and others it was an eight-hour car ride up north to a cabin. Spending that much time in the car calls for major snack attacks. You could go through the drive through and buy all of your snacks at the gas station. However, with the current gas prices, that can take a major toll on your wallet, so why not take an extra hour out of your day to plan ahead? Let’s talk about road trip snack essentials, and some fun choices you can pack for your next travel adventure.

Non-refrigerated items are perfect for packing because they are shelf-stable and easy for storing in a pantry wherever you are traveling to, or when you return. Make sure to choose a reusable bag that you can pack everything in, and stash a few items in the bag you have sitting with you.

Nick’s Sticks: Made out of Wisconsin, Nick’s Sticks are my favorite! They are a lean protein source (grass-fed beef, chicken or turkey) that can be paired with cheese or trail mix for the perfect combination.

RX Nut Butter: I’ve mentioned on my previous blogs that I am a nut butter fanatic! RX Nut Butter hits the spot and I always stock up on the single serve packets when I’m traveling for a quick and easy add-on with apples, bananas or even oatmeal on the go.

Trail Mix: Here’s a challenge – create a DIY trail mix! Even though it may feel more expensive, you actually save money by heading to the bulk section of the grocery store to mix and match. This gives you the ability to choose how much you want to purchase, and the specific items you would like, instead of purchasing pre-packaged options. As a Dietitian, my go-to mix is almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries and dark chocolate chunks. This covers a combination of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, with a bit of sass and saltiness!

Fruit: Fruit is an obvious for me to have on hand, but it may not always be a go to for everyone. Easy options include apples, clementines, oranges, or bananas. None of these require time in the fridge, and they are easy to rid of after you eat. Make sure you throw in some paper towels or hand sanitizing wipes!

Tuna: You can make tuna salad to throw in a cooler, but you can also purchase Wild Planet Ready to Eat Meals that don’t require any heating or cooling. The tuna is combined with other items like peppers, beans or pasta to add in antioxidants or complex carbohydrates.

Protein Bars: Although I like to focus on primary food sources, I always have one on hand just in case my schedule goes haywire and I don’t become hangry! Protein bars are so packable – the key is really to choose one that has protein and fiber so you can stay satisfied and don’t feel like you have to reach for a million other snacks. Some of my favorites include Go Macro Bars, KIND Bars or ONE Bars.

Hydration Packets: Many of us are dehydrated, and don’t even know it! While consuming more liquid may warrant additional bathroom stops, it is so important especially during the summer months and longer travel times. Water is always my #1 choice, but if you need some extra flavor, check out LMNT. I love the sweet and salty combination due to the added salt for rehydration, and other electrolytes to support your daily routine.

Don’t worry, I’ve got more ideas for you that incorporate a cooler! Packing refrigerated items may feel intimidating; make sure you have ample ice packs to keep food at a safe temperature (less than 39° F).

Greek yogurt + blueberries: Yogurt and fruit are a great combination to ensure you have a protein and fiber-filled snack. Look for a Greek yogurt that has less added sugar – plain Greek yogurt will never have added sugar, but some people prefer more flavor in their yogurt. Some of my favorites include Siggi’s, Two Good or Chobani.

Cheese: Cheese comes in all forms, but the easiest for traveling purposes may be a string cheese or the Babybel Cheese options. You can easily pair cheese with fruit, veggies or a handful or almonds or walnuts. If you are looking for a plant-based option, Babybel has dairy-free snacks, and Daiya Cheeze Sticks would be another dairy-free option as well.

Cottage Cheese: Another protein-packed snack, you can add this into any sort of meal or pair with produce or even whole grain crackers. Good Culture is one of my favorite brands; you can choose the regular or lactose-free versions to fit your needs.

Wraps: Wrap it all up! Before we hit the road as a family, I make sure that we have lunches packed, which typically includes wraps. They are easy to eat with one hand if you are in the drivers seat – but also manageable if you make a pit stop. I love using Tumaro’s Wraps to increase protein intake, with the addition of protein (lean meats like shaved turkey or plant-based options like scrambled tofu), raw or cooked vegetables, and something like avocado for healthy fats.

Hard boiled eggs: Hard boiled eggs are a great snack to throw in a cooler! I like to make 6 at a time to have them on hand, or you can make your own egg salad. If you are open to spending more money, you can also purchase hard boiled eggs that are already peeled and packaged.

Veggies + hummus: Another super easy option! Prep raw veggies such as mini peppers, carrots and cucumbers in a silicone reusable bag. Bring along your hummus container, or grab pre-portioned options to make it even more simple.

Protein shake: I try not to rely on already made protein shakes too much – I like the ones I make at home much better! However, they are extremely convenient when you don’t have access to other food or feel like you are on the go. I like mine cold and would definitely throw them in with the other refrigerated items, but they are also drinkable when warm. My top three favorites include Fairlife Nutrition Plan, OWYN (Only What You Need), and Quest Protein Shakes.

Hoping this round up of your road trip snack essentials can help you prepare for your vacations ahead! Your choices may differ depending on your mode of transportation, but know that you have so many options. Giving yourself some extra time to plan reaps in major benefits in the end. Safe travels!

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About Kirk: 

Kirk was working 80-hour weeks and wearing his shoulders as earrings when he found yoga in 2005. Forever the competitive athlete, he loved the physicality of yoga. When the spiritual and philosophical side of yoga were exposed to him, Kirk was hooked. Yoga provided him with what other activities couldn’t -- the ability to foster the benefits of practice both on and off of the mat. Yoga was something that Kirk could bring into all aspects of his life. 

Kirk knows that yoga can be intimidating, so he crafts a class that is playful and inviting, while still being challenging and safe. His creatively planned classes build strength and flexibility in your body and mind while establishing clarity, giving you more confidence to overcome obstacles in your life, and keeping you injury-free. His classes are themed with a message that is relatable and will inspire you to take it with you off your mat. Kirk has been teaching yoga since 2008 and lead his first teacher training in 2012. Where Kirk truly shines is in coaching, developing and bringing out the best in others.  

Kirk enjoys traveling (40+ countries to date!), snowboarding, and cherishes time with his wife and two daughters. 

About Christen: 

Christen Bakken’s yoga journey began in 1998 in a Bikram studio that provided a safe and secure place to practice. She saw the yoga mat as a place to remember her purpose and a place to play. As she continued her studies and began her journey to teaching in 2006, Christen infused yoga classes with devotion and the yoga mat became a place of personal transformation and healing. Her classes are filled with laughter, song, sweat, and usually heart openers. In 2013, Christen began training yoga teachers. This is the place where she finds the most joy - in community with folks looking to grow and be of greater service in their homes, on their mats, and in the world. Over the years, she has led trainings in Denver, the Midwest, Florida, and now abroad. She has trained in continuing education modules, 200-hour, 300-hour, and 500-hour programs. Beyond the mat, Christen is a passionate adventure seeker - she loves to bike, snowboard, and spend time with her husband and pups. She sees each day as a blessing and hopes to remind all who interact with her of this truth.  

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Road Trip Essentials 101 Info