Healthy Eating Tips

15 Essential Travel Snacks That Registered Dietitians Can’t Stop Munching On While Vacationing

Photo: Stocksy/ Nataša Mandić
School’s out, the sun’s shining, and the beach is calling your name. If only leaving for a relaxing summer vacation could be as easy as grabbing a backpack and walking out the door to the tune of "Send Me on My Way" by Rusted Root, full 90s movie-style. But let’s be honest: It hardly ever is. In reality, prepping for a trip can quickly turn into a chaotic scene more aligned with a Chevy Chase film. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and passports in the bag? Check, check, check. But aside from these travel essentials, we can’t forget the sanity-saving snacks that help get you avoid the inevitable sleep-deprived bouts of hanger.

That's why we spoke with five leading dietitians to find out what foods are part of their own essential travel snack arsenals—the noshes that help fuel them through many long days spent exploring with enough energy and stamina to enjoy every last lick of vacay. Ready to take on the incredibly important role of snack oversight? From nuts to superfood bars to chocolate (yay!), there’s a munchie here for every occasion.

The 15 travel snacks registered dietitians love to munch on while on-the-go

Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, registered dietitian nutritionist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and owner of Kara Lydon Nutrition

1. A DIY snack box filled with cheese, crackers, hummus, and fruit

“One of my favorite snack hacks for travel is packing my own snack box. You can usually order these on a plane, but they're way overpriced and you don't get to choose your favorite items. I love to include crackers, cheddar cheese from Truly Grass Fed—a sustainable dairy brand from Ireland—grapes, and hummus in mine. This snack contains enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates to hold me over until I reach my destination.”

2. Oatmeal cups

“When traveling during the morning hours, I make sure to pack Bob's Red Mill Organic Oatmeal Cups. You can fill them with coconut milk, Greek yogurt, or your liquid of choice overnight for chilled overnight oats. And if you're flying, you can ask for hot water on the plane and mix it en route. They're packed with whole grain oats, omega-3s from the flax and chia seeds, eight grams of protein, and they're high in fiber and an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C.”

Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, registered dietitian based in Charleston

3. Dark chocolate

“Chocolate is a non-negotiable snack when I'm on the go— it satisfies my sweet tooth and provides me with important anti-inflammatory polyphenols. UNREAL's Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems come in a smaller snack pack size, which is great for traveling. Bonus? These vegan gems get their colors from natural sources like beets, radishes, and spirulina instead of artificial ingredients.”

4. Probiotic fruit bars

“Maintaining my gut health is always a goal when I'm traveling. Snacking on That’s It mini probiotic fruit bars helps me fuel my body with beneficial probiotics that help support my balanced gut microbiota. And since these bars contain no added sugars and are made with real fruit, I can feel good knowing that I am doing what I can to meet my fruit intake goals by including these in my diet. I like buying a multi-pack at Sam’s Club before a trip and keeping them on hand when I need an energy boost.”

5. Prunes

Sunsweet Ones are individually wrapped California prunes that make meeting my fruit quota super simple. Multiple studies even suggest that eating five to six prunes each day may help to prevent bone loss. With no added sugars and three grams of fiber per serving, these prunes are a staple in my travel bag. And since many of us experience gastrointestinal irregularity when we are away from our normal environment, including prunes in a travel snack plan may help support bowel movement regularity—and who doesn't want that?”

6. Apples

“Apples are an easy nosh to include in my snack rotation when traveling. Especially when traveling with kiddos, I love leaning on Envy apples, since their flesh stays fresh (read: not brown) longer and they have a naturally balanced sweetness with a delicious crunch.”

Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder, and director of Real Nutrition

7. Superfood bars

“These vegan whole food bars by Elemental Superfood are delicious, satisfying, and keep me energized with ingredients like whole seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. They have no added sugar and all the great flavor. I never leave home without one.”

8. Nuts

“I like to grab pre-portioned packets of pistachios or almonds that fit into my on-the-go fanny pack or backpack. Nuts provide healthy fats, fiber, and protein to keep my energy up and my hanger at bay. Also, they pair really well with fresh fruit if you're looking for a slightly heartier snack.”

Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Miami-based registered dietitian nutritionist and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

9. Nut butter

“I love individual packets or cups of almond butter or peanut butter for traveling. You can eat them right out of the packet on their own, pair one with a piece of fresh fruit, shmear it on top of a piece of toast, or scoop one into a bowl of oats. Nut butters are a great source of heart-healthy fats, plus they provide a few grams of dietary fiber and protein. Almond butter specifically provides 16 grams of heart-healthy fat, seven grams of total carbohydrates, four grams of dietary fiber, and seven grams of protein per two tablespoon serving.”

10. Electrolytes

“A lot of people experience dehydration when traveling. Flying in a plane can cause dehydration due to the altitude, and simply sitting in a car for long periods of time can stop us from drinking as much as usual because we don’t want to have to stop to use the restroom. Having an electrolyte drink or keeping packets with you is a great way to keep your hydration levels up when you are traveling and once you finally get to your final distance to help rehydrate you.”

11. Whole-grain crackers or pretzels

“You can always find either whole-grain crackers or honey wheat pretzels in my travel bag. They provide carbohydrates plus a few grams of dietary fiber and protein, and they're great to carry along with you while traveling because they don’t go bad quickly. Again, traveling can be dehydrating, and if you're going to be in a hot climate, you may be sweating more than usual and need additional sodium. These two snack options can provide that, too.”

12. Muesli

“Muesli is a great snack to take with you on the go. It’s a simple mix of oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, which means healthy fats, protein, dietary fiber, carbs, and plenty of vitamin and minerals.”

Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, registered dietitian and author of The Better Period Food Solution

13. Nut bars

Perfect Snacks' bars are ideal for on-the-go travel because they are packed with heart-healthy, fiber-filled nuts like almonds and peanuts. The healthy fats will help keep you less focused on your growling belly and more focused on catching your flight in time.”

14. Chocolate bites

“The healthy real chocolate bites by Mid-Day Squares will both satisfy your sweet tooth and provide sustaining energy to your brain and body, which is crucial for a long day of travel. One square contains six grams of plant-based protein and even has some iron, helping to give you that reinvigorating bump to get you through and beyond a dragged-out travel day.”

15. Pistachios

“These on-the-go pistachio pouches from Wonderful Pistachios make for the easiest travel buddy because they can withstand all the jostling that comes along with a day of travel. Pistachios, whether they're plain, chili, or honey roasted, are a super high-fiber plant-based snack, so you’ll be nourished and filled with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals.”

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