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7 Road Trip Snacks and Tips That Will Make You Want to Drive Everywhere

7 Road Trip Snacks and Tips That Will Make You Want to Drive Everywhere

Road trip snacks are the most important things to pack for your next trip with kids. In many ways, they are more important than phone chargers, swim suits and hotel reservations. Seriously. They can make it break your trip!

Ever since our girls were teeny tiny, we packed them up for road trips. Our sojourns to Palm Springs each year are legendary (if only to us). The number one rule I’ve learned is this: You can never have too much food. NEVER.

If you have the time, pack a full meal for everyone (including adults) so you can be sure to have a healthy, satisfying meal on the road. This saves a ton of money too! For families with older kids, put them in charge. One less thing for you to do and one less thing for them to complain about. (Hopefully…)

farmers market plums and apricots

Whole fresh fruit makes a great snack for the road.

Road trip snacks need to walk that difficult balance between being fun so the kids will eat them and being healthy to make sure kids still get the nutrients they need, even on vacation. If you have picky opinionated kids like mine, you have to get pretty savvy about what you pack. Don’t worry though, I am here to help!

On a recent road trip in Northern California, we drove from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge to Mendocino in a sweet Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ. The ride was smooth, the truck was fully equipped with all the bells and whistle, and everyone was even happier because of the SNACKS.

family with Chevrolet Silverado

Smiles on our faces because we brought snacks on this road trip.

Check out the road trip snacks I love for families, as well as some of my favorite tips to help you survive your next family road trip!

7 Road Trip Snacks and Tips for Families

1.    Eat fresh food

The best road trip snacks are the ones your kids eat. This means don’t go crazy trying to introduce a kiwi and mango fruit salad if your kids haven’t been exposed to tropical fruit. Keep it simple. Whole fruit like apples and pears are great options. Wrap each one individually to keep it clean. Triton loves a fresh juicy orange to curb his snack attacks on the road. Berries are also a great choice. Just be sure to take the time to put them in individual containers, and not bags. No one is going to eat smushed blueberries. Skip bananas as they tend to brown quickly and get mushy. Also, grapes can be a choking hazard so if you have little ones, so save them for when you stop for a meal.

bag of Cuties mandarin oranges

Sometimes we bring along a bag of Cuties on road trips, and they always go fast.

2.    Stock up on squeezable snacks.

Especially for families with elementary school-aged kids or younger, squeezable apple sauce or yogurt packets are a fantastic invention. They aren’t messy…so yay for that. Even more important though, they are healthy, delicious and travel well. A new favorite of our road trip snacks are the protein-dense Slammers Snacks, which are like portable fruit smoothies without the spills.

3.    Limit liquid to a juice box.

My favorite thing about juice boxes is that you can control how much liquid your child is taking in. Some kids have bladders that size of a pea and if you don’t want to pull over every 30 minutes, you probably don’t want to give them a giant water bottle or super-size fountain drink. Go for the 100% juice brands. (We liked Juicy Juice when the girls were younger.) Older kids can get the 6oz bottles if they balk at a juice box. Limiting liquids in the two or three hours preceding the trip also helps. We try to walk that fine line between making sure the kids don’t get dehydrated ,while also trying to reduce the potty breaks as much as possible.

Check out 3 things I absolutely must have on every road trip.

4.    Buy individually packed snacks.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of pre-packaged, individual snacks like chips, crackers and cookies. However as road trip snacks go, these are some of the best. They are portioned out so no one complains about someone eating “ALL” of the chips and kids don’t go crazy munching all your food within the first hour. Have fun with it. Buy the treats your kids never get at home. Splurge on the variety pack of chips from Costco and let them check out new flavors. And get something you like too! I’ve always got a stock of energy bars and trail mix in the car for road trips.

Creminelli salami and cheese snack packs

Snack packs make an easy solution for road trips.

5.    Engage the help of older kids.

If you are so lucky to be traveling with more than one child, give the older ones some responsibility for helping the little ones. I find this knocks out two birds with one stone! Helping to entertain, open food packages, or find the lost iPhone charger are all things tweens and teens are good at. Giving older children responsibility can give them a sense of pride and accomplishment when you reach your destination. If that’s not enough, $5 goes a long way too…or so I’m told.

6.    Prepare your road trip snacks the night before.

Do not wait until the last minute to put together your road trip snacks. When traveling with kids, there’s too many other things to think about when you’re packing up and trying to hit the road. If you’re making sandwiches, wrap them individually. Portion out cookies or other treats into containers for each child. For Sophia, that would be fish-shaped cheddar crackers, and spicy rolled tortilla chips for Ava. Freeze water bottles overnight and use them to keep a cooler cold. Take as much off your plate the night before the big road trip as you can. You’ll be glad you did!

Doritos, almonds and cheese snacks

Sometimes it’s okay to splurge on slightly unhealthy treats too.

7.    Pack your patience.

Road trips are harder on the parents than they are on the kids.  I mean, let’s face it – family travel can be stressful. Try to go into each trip with a good intention and concentrate on being patient with your kids, your partner (if you have one) and other drivers as well. Know ahead of time that you will probably run into traffic. You may have to stop twice in one hour because your 5-year-old swore she didn’t have to go at the first stop. You may drop a bottle of orange juice in your lap. Just take advice from Elsa and let it go. Concentrate on having fun and making memories instead!

colorful macarons

One of our kids’ favorite treats is macarons like this colorful sandwich cookies.

The bottom line with road trip snacks is that you can never, ever have too many of them when you’re traveling with kids. Pack way more snacks than you think you’ll need. And if you have a tween or teen, double it.

Now go hit the road!

man behind wheel of Chevy Silverado

Our recent road trip from San Francisco to Mendocino in this sweet Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ was so fun!

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Low Tech Things To Do On A Road Trip

Low Tech Things To Do On A Road Trip

Summer road trips are our family’s jam. We love to hit the road for long weekends, visiting fun California places within easy driving distance like Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Hollywood and more. If you are traveling by car with your family this summer, you’ll want to plan some on-the-road activities that don’t involve staring at a screen. It’s easy to let our kids get lost in their smartphones while on the road, but a family trip is also an opportunity to connect and engage in some low tech things to do on a road trip.

2018 Kia Cadenza

We are ready to hit the road in this snazzy new Kia Cadenza, outfitted perfectly for any road trip. #KiaPartner


Here are a few of our favorites:

Low Tech Things To Do On A Road Trip

1. Good old-fashioned reading

Ebooks are easily accessible on the road, but there’s something to be said about the feel of paper and reading a book jacket to find out what you’ll find in the pages. Whether you use a bookmark or dog-ear pages, there’s something special about reading a book. Our daughter Ava loves to read, and she’ll pack some of her trusty  young adult favorites for the road.

desert road sign to nowhere

Whichever way you choose, it’s about the journey not the final destination.

2. Sing-a-long

Although music involves electronic components, there’s no need to bring out the phones or tablets when the Kia Cadenza has a premium stereo system and available Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Your kids might roll their eyes a little when you blast the ‘90s on 9, or you can turn up the latest pop tunes and partake in some carpool karaoke. (Cue teen eye rolling).

3. Scavenger hunt

Before you hit the road, have your family make a list of things you may see on your route. Pick some obvious items for the younger kids (like semi trucks or slug bugs) or more obscure items like a labrador in a truck or a red Ferrari. Try to plan out some monuments or special tourist attractions along your journey. Using our Kia Cadenza’s state-of-the-art navigation system, we were even able to map those locations and make it easy for the driver to find the stops along the way.

pin in a map for road trip planning

Having the kids be part of planning the road trip route helps them be interested in following along from the back seat.

4. Journal

Writing about travels is a great way for your family to reflect and make memories. Encourage your kids to free write about the trip. You may want to pass a notebook around so everyone can share their own special memories as you drive across the country or region. The best part is looking back years later on the fun times you shared. Add pictures when you get home to document your journey with both words and photographs.

journal about travel adventures

When driving to multiple road trip destinations, the time spent in the car is a great opportunity to journal about the trip.

5. Crack the code

Have one family member choose a code word before you begin your trip. Pick something that is not too common but likely to be said somewhere along the journey. Once one person cracks the code with the secret word, they become the new code word creator until another person says their word. This is a fun way to pass the time on a trip while having fun, engaging conversations!

6. The license plate game

Since our girls were very little, our family has loved to play the simple license plate game. Just calling out the name of the US State when you see it first can get pretty competitive. The girls have gotten very good at spotting license plates from faraway places like Maine and Florida, or more obscure ones like Alaska or Hawaii. Me? I never win because I’m usually the driver and keeping my eyes on the road for safety reasons. I just randomly yell out “Alabama!” so they think I’m still in the game. (I think they are on to me).

New Mexico license plate

Some license plates are more colorful than others. Extra points?

It’s not necessary to break out an iPad or fancy phone to keep your family occupied on a long drive. These low tech things to do on a road trip are fun and easy ways to interact or entertain your family on your journey.

Enjoy your vacation with your family with these unplugged activities!