Perfect Portable Snacks for Travel

By Mary Perry, RD

Whether you are planning to go on a summer vacation or you have to travel a lot for work, a little preparation goes a long way when it comes to healthy eating.  When preparing for a trip, packing snacks is as important as packing your clothes.  Having key items gives you choices when traveling so you’re not forced into making an unhealthy choice just because you have no other options.  Here are some ideas:

  • If driving, bring along a small cooler with ice packs to keep your snacks fresh. Individually wrapped portions of string cheese can be kept in the cooler with the fruit and vegetables. They are a great source of calcium and protein.
    • While all fruit and veggies are a great choice, apples and bananas as well as celery sticks, baby carrots, olives, cherry tomatoes are good choices as they can stand a lot more jostling than softer produce.
    • You can also pack sandwiches made with lean meats and keep these in the cooler, too.
    • Another great choice for the cooler are individual containers of low fat cottage cheese or Greek-style yogurt since they tend to be higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt.
    • Bring plenty of water. It will keep you hydrated and help prevent fatigue from lack of fluids.
    • Bring baked whole grain crackers along on your trip. This is good for added fiber and nutrients.
    • Individual serving size packets of peanut, almond or cashew butter are great to squeeze onto whole grain crackers or an apple.  Justin’s and Nutiva are two brands that offer boxes of single serving packets.
    • Protein powder and a shaker bottle or ready-to-drink protein shakes.  If mixing your own, all you need to do it add water, milk or milk alternative and you’ve got a shot of protein ready-to-go. 
    • Hard-boiled eggs are a great choice.  You can either pack them in your small cooler but they can also be found at most convenience stores.
    • Don’t overindulge in greasy chips. There are baked varieties that have a lot less unhealthy fats. You need to watch how much you eat of those too, however, since they don’t offer much in the way of nutrition.
    • Nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts contain polyunsaturated fats and are easy to take on a trip in either individual bags or larger containers. 
    • Soy nuts are also a good choice since they’re high in protein, fiber and healthy fats.
    • Trail mix and dried fruit are a great portable snack but I recommend packaging individual portions in snack size baggies since you get a lot of calories in a little serving size.
    • Vacuum-sealed tuna packets or tuna-salad kits (complete with light mayo and crackers). Like Lunchables, but for grown-ups.
    • Low-sodium turkey or ostrich jerky. Jerky is a great portable protein just look for ones with 20% or less of your daily sodium intake.
    • Packets of plain instant oatmeal. Empty one into a travel mug before a flight, ask an attendant for boiling water, and you have a quick breakfast with no cup necessary.
    • Whole grain cereal. Instead of chips, pack some high fiber cereal in a snack size baggie for easy munching. Look for cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and ideally less than 5 grams of sugar.  Kashi brand has several varieties of cereal that meet these guidelines.
    • Natural nut butter sandwich. Make your own sandwich with either peanut, almond, or cashew butter on whole wheat bread or crackers. Pack it in a small Tupperware container to prevent it from getting squished.
    • Energy bars. Energy bars are an easy grab-n-go snack. Look for more brands such as Lara, Luna, Pure, Kashi, Kind, or the Zone.