Road trip food that won’t make you regret your life choices

It’s the holidays, which means lots of travel and lots of food. Thomas and I typically travel long distances this time of year but thankfully this year we only have to travel an hour or so. Nevertheless we have been on our fair share of road trips together. My parents house is 9 hours or so from our house so we’ve definitely been on the road enough to know what we do and do not enjoy as far as activities and food are concerned. I won’t go into detail about activities because that’s still a work in progress and this isn’t a travel blog but I will go into food, cuz that’s what I do.

Thomas has nightmares of bologna sandwiches from his road trip days with his family. For me I remember lots of granola bars, peanut butter cracker packs (you know the type), and trail mix. Since we’ve been together we’ve come up with our own magical formula. See what you think:


  1. Nuts. We prefer unroasted/unsalted almonds but any nut will do. They’re a great pick me up on long road trips whenever you start to flag. Particularly if you’re doing a night run. I advise going with unsalted though because you’re going to be eating them for a while and the salt can get to your thirst buds.
  2. Sandwiches. With 9+ hours in the car there is no way I’m not going to eat a somewhat substantial meal-type. I’m also not a big fan of pulling over to A) spend money on fast food that won’t taste good and B) hurt my tummy over tons o’ grease*. Our alternative is to pack a few PB&J’s for ourselves and feed the beast inside.
  3. Fruit. We literally spend at least $14/week on apples (the cashiers at Walmart think this is an anomaly every.time. we are in line. we get it.). During road trips we cut up 6-10 apples and store them in a large plastic bag or bin. If we know it won’t be tremendously hot or sunny on the trip we usually don’t put them in a cooler. They do turn brown but they are actually quite refreshing and to us are like candy (you do you and we’ll do us). We also LOVE cutie oranges. We peel them for one another while the other drives and we pack hand sanitizer, water, paper towels and a plastic garbage bag to clean up after ourselves.
  4. Water. Car air tends to be stale and dry us out. We drink TONS of water (mostly in reusable water bottles) to hydrate ourselves. Plus the bonus is that we have to use the bathroom more so we get to stretch our legs often. I’m cool with that.


  1. Guilty pleasure treats. We don’t do this often but it is sometimes fun to pick up a guilty pleasure treat. When I used to visit my sister in Idaho it was Smart Food popcorn and Smart water (I had a smart theme-don’t know why). Now I pick parmesan goldfish and they are very satisfying. But again I try not to eat too much so I don’t get overly thirsty. Thomas really likes beef jerky so sometimes that happens.
  2. Bubble gum. As a child we had a firm belief that if we went anywhere near the mountains we had to have bubblicious bubble gum with us to chew. It popped our ears and that was pretty fun. Plus it came in a myriad of flavors like watermelon and sour apple and during a long road trip it really is the little things that matter. I haven’t bought/brought bubble gum with me in a few years but it always is fun.
  3. Dr. Pepper. During long drives (especially at night) I sometimes need a pick me up. Dr. Pepper has caffeine and it can help me get through. I happen to like my Dr. Pepper a very specific way: diet, flat and watered down. It’s hard to get it this way but it’s my favorite.

*TMI moment: I have weird stomach travel issues. Maybe it’s from eating out more frequently- which usually entails more fat, salt and sugar than normal (I react very poorly to large quantities of fried foods-thanks gall bladder removal from 12 years ago). And sitting for long periods of time in a car is not an improvement to the general travel discomfort. The foods we travel with now help me in this arena and for that I am grateful. Remember, it’s the little things.


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