So you’re going on a road trip and have no idea what to bring for snacks and food? Plus, you have no clue how to store them without looking like your car got hit by a tornado. No worries, been there, done that, we have gone on more than enough road trips to have learned what are the best road trip foods and road trip snacks to bring along for your adventures.
Whether they be day trips to a nearby hike or cross-country traveling we have learned the ropes on what you should bring for your next road trip and how you can store them properly for easy access.
The last thing you want is to go to the store 20 minutes before you’re supposed to leave and buy everything that will make you want to hurl after munching on junk food galore that offers no nutritional value whatsoever. You also don’t want to rush with packing because throwing everything in bags and tossing it into your car is recipe for disaster, trust us we were the biggest offenders of the bag-and-go method lol.
So without further ado, let’s get started on this must-have guide to bringing the best road trip snacks and road trip food, plus the best car organization and coolers for your perishables and non-perishables. So you can save money and eat better while traveling!
This post is all about the best road trip snacks and road trip food, plus we offer tips on how to store your perishables and non-perishables and researched the top road trip food organizers and coolers! And No, this list isn’t just peanut butter sandwiches ?
Road Trip Snacks and the Best Road Trip Food for Your Vacation
Disclaimer: This guide is just based on our personal experience with road trips and is not professional advice. Our food tips are not nutritional advice as we are not doctors, health experts, or nutritionists. Always double-check food labels and keep in mind cross-contamination if you have allergies. We are not experts but we do love road trips and traveling in general, so we kinda know a thing or two ☺️. Please keep in mind these tips and guides may or may not work for you. Also, keep in mind that product materials, prices, and availability can change at any moment without notice.
Cross Country Driving Food Essentials for Cooking on The Go
Road Trip Non Food Items
- Portable barbecue grill- We love this one! we also use it for camping and cooking at home.
Cuisinart Portable charcoal barbecue grill clicks here to get on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B58A0QU?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_NXB10SZK778GQE92K0EB
- electric portable stove: If you have access to electricity then definitely bring a portable stove. We wish we would have done this because we got tired of sandwiches and packaged food meals.
This portable stove is small enough to travel with!
Click here to get on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C8C5I7I?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_215T8HV5HAAMM53SA5K6
- Cooking utensils: Spatula, spoon, wooden spatula or you can buy a set for camping which also works perfectly!
Click here for 11 piece camp kitchen cooking set on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014EGCWBA?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_C64VG9T9AJZVN6CCGBVC
Click here for 10 piece camp cooking set on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Y3WVHM9?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_EQC2G5P1H83A5AH9PSP0
Utensils for eating: We recommend compostable such as these on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SGJRCJD?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_DK2YB4AED8V8SZ0PR49C
- Small Cooking pan
- Small Saucepan
- small towel for cleanup
- dish soap and sponge
- Compostable plates, bowls, cups
Road Trip Snacks and Road Trip Food List
Road Trip Perishables
- cheese-string cheese, baybell, cheddar, and shredded cheese for good healthy fats
- roasted meats already shredded like roasted chicken
- cream cheese
- sandwich meats
- apple sauce
Road Trip Non-Perishables – Balance between healthier snacks, salty snacks, and sugary foods
- crackers- goldfish, saltines crackers, ritz, pita bread crackers, etc
- bread, tortillas, wraps
- canned soup
- canned vegetables
- canned meals like ravioli or chili beans
- packed dry meals: macaroni, Rice a Roni, etc
- packaged soups: ramen, miso soup, udon, etc
- nuts: salty and sweet like chocolate-covered almonds, peanuts, wasabi nuts, spicy nuts, etc
- trail mix
- chips- potatoes chips, corn chips, veggie chips, fruit chips
- dried fruit
- dry cereal
- Peanut butter, almond butter, and other nut butter
- dark chocolate chips and other forms of chocolate for when you have a sweet tooth
Commonly asked questions for the Ultimate Road Trip Food and Best Road Trip Snacks
Why even bother with road trip food? I can just buy it every time I stop at gas stations.
Well, you could, but you also would be wasting so much money and have a higher chance of making poor food choices when shopping at a gas station. When you’re hungry you tend to grab the nearest and yummiest items on the shelves which are usually convenient and fatty junk food or sugar foods.
To avoid eating like a garbage truck, we recommend to plan ahead and pack in advance healthier alternatives for healthy road trip snacks that fill you up and keep your stomach happy.
Plus, do you really want to waste that much time repeating stopping to get food and ruin your epic road trip because afterward you have s stomach ache??
What road trip meals do you typically pack on long trips?
Food: We recommend you pack food that is mostly 65% nutritious, and 35% average and junk food. this is especially important for families since you have growing kids, nutrition is super important and you should always pack healthy road trip food for your family road trip.
65 % non-perishable and 35% perishables in case you get stranded and have no cell service you’ll need food that can withstand the high temps.
Drinks: Bring canned or bottled drinks that can be left out in warm weather and powdered versions. Bottled water is also a must!
What should I pack for dinner on a road trip?
If you’re heading out on a long trip and will be eating from your car several days, we recommend packaged foods that you just need to add hot water. If you don’t like the idea of packaged meals, we recommend bringing a portable mini barbecue grill, an electric portable stove, a soup pan and saute pan, a spatula, and a large spoon.
So you can cook on the go we linked our road trip food prep tool list at the top ☺️. Otherwise you’re looking at hotel microwave meals or add hot water meals lol
Road trip dinner Ideas
Cold shredded chicken or any other cold roasting meat slices so you can make wraps and road trip sandwiches, or add to cooked microwave pasta with a jar of your favorite sauce for some Italian cuisine.
Packaged meals such as mashed potatoes, canned soups, canned chili beans, Rice a Roni, macaroni, and spam for sauteing with eggs (great road trip breakfast ideas, include eggs and spam ☺️ and soy sauce)
Microwavable rice or cook rice over a portable stove: can be mixed with eggs, canned chopped spam, and onions for quick fried rice or spam egg mix
steak, chicken, fish, tofu, and veggies over the barbecue- This can only be done if you can stop at the grocery store while o the road trip. It’s well worth it though because having healthy foods is necessary for nutritional value.
What snacks should I bring on a long trip?
- Hard boiled eggs
- bagged popcorn
- Protein bars
- Different kinds of cheese: mozzarella string cheese sticks, cheddar sticks, baybell cheese, etc
- pre-cut fresh vegetables portioned into separate bags or containers
- fresh Fruit that doesnt need to be cut: Apples, bananas, grapes, plums, pears, and oranges
- potato chips
- corn chips
- peanut butter sandwiches
- granola bars
- trail mix
What is the most popular road trip snack?
- Chips and granola bars
- peanut butter sandwiches
How do you bring food in the car for a road trip?
- Invest in an amazing cooler for the trunk area.
- Get a trunk organizer for the non-perishables.
for the front of the car get a travel size cooler and seat organizer for the non perishables, we go over this more further down the post ?
What food travels well in a cooler?
Perishable items are perfect for the cooler and as long as you have good quality the food colder and make sure to pack individual servings so it’s easier to eat them on the go. We pack food right before the trip, in the middle we redo some of the packings, and on the way back. it also keeps you aware of what food needs to be refilled and what hasn’t been untouched.
Drinks- coffee, energy drinks, juice, water, sparking drinks
personal size dips
small butter samples
Milk packs- almond, soy, macadamia, oat, dairy
Eggs- hard boiled eggs or whole eggs or liquid eggs
Sandwich deli meats- packaged in zippered baggies
Condiments- small to-go containers
yogurt- single servings
fruit and vegetables
apple sauce the drinkable ones
What are non messy snacks for road trips?
- yogurt drinks
- drinkable applesauce
- fruit and precut vegetables with dip
- hardboiled already peeled eggs
- trail mix
What snacks can stay in the car?
Non-perishables will be fine in the car but keep them out of the direct sunlight, these especially hold up well:
- peanut butter
- dried fruit
- beefy jerky
- bagged popcorn
If you have food that can melt like chocolate you’ll want to move it to the ice chest dry area bin. Most chests have them. It’s a hanging basket in the cooler.
if you have perishable road trip food you’ll have to ensure your ice chest is of high quality. We like to keep a thermometer in ours to ensure the temp is food safe.
Organizing and Storage of Food, Snacks, and Drinks
Coolers for Perishable Road Trip Food
The best way to organize snacks for your upcoming road trip is to separate perishable and non-perishables, then further separate snacks, meals, and drinks into separate areas.
For perishables we have to make sure we bring along an amazing and reliable cooler, we love the Yeti cooler even though it’s a little spendy, it can last for years and so many trips so it pays itself off quickly! It also is available in different sizes and styles. We’ll list the top Yeti and other comparable coolers that work perfectly for road trips or camping when packing your perishables.
Medium – Long Road Trip
Our family cooler was a Coleman and it did a great job for us when we would take it on various road trips and day trips. They say this cooler can hold its temps for 5 days up to 90 degrees, but we don’t see that happening. Our Coleman lasted max 3 days and on the 3rd day, it was heavily melted.
However it is a great price, and ice is cheap so even though it doesn’t last as long as a Yeti, you can just buy more ice more frequently. It’s still a great ice chest, but if you’ll be out in a remote area and need it to stay cold for days then we recommend investing in a higher-quality cooler like the Yeti or Artic brands.
Coleman Rolling Cooler 62 Quart Click to get on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019N9WQAK?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_XGBYXDRWNFX72RQKD70H
Small Road Trip and Day Trip
This soft-style portable cooler reminds us of the Yeti hopper but it’s way more price-friendly for budget travelers. It is also like the Yeti Hopper is available in different sizes from 8 cans to 48 cans. The Titan cooler is also well insulated featuring a hard inner layer for thermal retention, and the exterior reflects heat rather than absorbs it.
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Click Here To Get from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H463Q6Y?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_6YGRMXZBTQ5323JJD9EY
This little cooler doesn’t hold a ton but it’s perfect for long stretches of driving where you won’t be stopping often, you can stash in this bag a couple of drinks, yogurt, and dry snacks on the side. Plus it hangs on the back of your seat so you can easily get it for quick access! Win-win for road trips! We wish we would have thought of this when we went on our most recent trip ?
Buy the High Road Snackstash car seat back organizer cooler at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077YSX2YR?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_S3NH2C8MNYAFDTQX7ZR7
Yeti Tundra Coolers
This cooler is spendy, but you get what you pay for, It keeps our stuff cold for ages! The extra-thick walls with permafrost insulation ensure your stuff will stay cold even in hot conditions. We took a road trip from the upper PNW all the way through to las vegas and back and it help up marvelously. Not even just that, everyone knows Yeti, makes high-quality products for brought terrains, and their coolers are no exception.
Medium-Long Road Trips
We chose the smaller Yeti Tundra 35 for our road trip. However, if you have a family you’ll want the much bigger 45 or 65 at least. It really depends on what fits in your car comfortably and how much food you’ll be storing. Keep in mind you’ll want to empty the melted ice every 4-5 days so it doesn’t begin to smell.
Click Here To Get on Amazon Yeti Tundra 35 Cooler: https://www.amazon.com/YETI-Tundra-35-Cooler-Navy/dp/B0842BM33Y/ref=sr_1_5?crid=SNUEEGYGKVJ8&keywords=yeti+cooler&qid=1655333474&sprefix=yeti+cooler%2Caps%2C148&sr=8-5
Click Here to Get Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004U6MHV0?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_NHH42KJCD35PQX1GVB5P
Camping or Cross Country Road trip Cooler
Click Here To Get on Amazon: Yeti Tundra Haul Portable Wheel Cooler: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GJZDNXG?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_EZTFEZF6YPR8SJJCZ7Y8
If you’ll be taking this ice chest camping or out of your car often you might want to invest in the Yeti Tundra haul portable, it’s expensive and does not have a spot for a divider or dry basket. But the wheels and handle make it worth it in our opinion because Yeti’s biggest downfall is their ice chests are heavy.
Small Road Trip or Day Trip
If you’ll be taking a small road trip or need a cooler you can easily carry without help, then we suggest the Yeti Roadie 24 as it’s the perfect size for behind the back seat. it also has a hefty hauler handle so you can carry it with one hand. Plus with this taller design unlike the smaller version of the 20, you can fit a bottle of champagne for that romantic picnic at the lake.
The thick layer inside holds the temperature better than the soft material versions such as the portable cooler we mention below. However, it also makes it a little heavier. If cold retention is your goal then choose this cooler, however, if portability is key then we suggest the flip 18 with its Coldcell foam insulation you’ll get great temperature control but the lightness you need for heavy walking, it’s also smaller but the soft and wide strap means you can hike with it if needed.
Click Here to Get Yeti Roadie 24 on Amazon:
Click here to get the Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Portable Cooler on Amazon:
Road Trip Snacks Non-Perishables Organization
Now that you have picked out the best cooler for your perishables you can focus on the dry goods and non-perishables that are not threatened by the very existence of the sun ?. We like to have a compact bag for the front with the snacks and drinks we’ll most likely eat that day, and as well have a trunk organizer further separate the items.
Trunk food Organization: Perfect for Long Trips!
If your idea of organizing is throwing food into grocery bags and tying a knot and tossing it in your trunk, then you, my friend have been doing it wrong this whole time. No worries, we also used to pack our food the same way because we thought it would be easier to grab that way.
What ended up happening was we didn’t organize the food bags or dumped them looking for that certain granola bar and then threw it all back in the bag and unorganized everything (you know you’ve done this lol).
That’s why when we decided we were going to travel around the States we were going to be prepared and do it right, we bought a great cooler for our perishables, and invested in trunk organization, storage, and organization for the passenger area, and wah-la! It made so much of a difference and we didn’t waste an hour deep diving for our favorite snacks. Plus when we would go to refi lour stash it was way easier to manage since we had a system in place.
We Love the Simniam large trunk organizer because it has dividers with no top, this might be a bad thing for others but for us, it’s exactly what we’re looking for, and we’ll tell you why: Open concept organization is easier to manage when going on road trips, we can pop open the trunk and grab a bag of chips without moving stuff around to open the lid.
If there was a lid, we usually would over-pack and stockpile our trunk so that it became unusable. We also love that this organizer has big enough compartments that it can be used for other purposes such as grocery shopping, overall trunk organization, and more.
We used our trunk organizer for food in three of the compartments and left a big compartment for our road stuff such as a medical kit, towels, flashlight, and small bag of necessities.
For the food compartments we recommend organizing them this way:
1st Compartment: Salty stuff such as crackers, chips, nuts, bread, pretzels, jerky, and nori packs,
2nd Compartment: Sweets such as coffee mix, granola bars, candy, rice cakes, cookies, cereal
3rd Compartment: Seasoning, sugar, creamer, strainer, hand sanitizer, compostable plates, cups, bowls, utensils, and napkins
Side pockets: drink packets, vitamins, and medicine, roadside stuff, extra bags, small towels, and tools.
Simniam Large Car Trunk Organizer
Click Here To Get on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085ZKC9MW/ref=sspa_dk_detail_4?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B085ZKC9MW&pd_rd_w=M6pTr&content-id=amzn1.sym.ea4fd32b-1001-4f9b-9dd5-0bce86fe8110&pf_rd_p=ea4fd32b-1001-4f9b-9dd5-0bce86fe8110&pf_rd_r=CCNMEQGS99RDES6B8G3Y&pd_rd_wg=OwAXy&pd_rd_r=9cde8946-41ca-4d16-961e-03af581ee626&s=hi&smid=A1I7OOP94YOQBQ&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExMjc5NVJPRTNUNU9CJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTI3MzE1M1ZWVVZLVk5LR0Y3QiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNDI0MzkyMUVWQkVMWFFPODJXNSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2RldGFpbF90aGVtYXRpYyZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
That wraps up our guide on the best road trip food and best road trip snacks and how to properly store your perishables and non perishables when traveling by car =). We hope you enjoyed this post and if you did please share it via the social buttons on the top and bottom of this page ☺️. Also if you are looking for other tips make sure to check out some of our other travel post.