16 Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids on Trips (and two not so great ones)

My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery

Gushers, Doritos and Cheetos, oh mi! There are a lot of snack options on the market these days, but not necessarily ones you want to feed to your kids…especially if you are going to be cooped up on a plane, train or automobile with them. Sugar or corn syrup induced tantrums, for those of us in the states who have to make purchasing decisions around this sticky stuff are no way to start a family vacation.

Here are a few options for healthy kid snacks, whether straight from the grocery shelves or whipped up in the kitchen a few days before, depending on your style. Anything that is noted with a handmade alternative can also be purchased online through places like etsy, you just have to do some digging.

1. Fresh Fruit

Fresh fruit is a given. Berries, bananas, strawberries and apples can all be eaten without much prep work, unless of course your picky eater doesn’t like the skins. Then you can add apples to the list of fruit to slice before you hit the road along with melons and oranges. Oranges? Yes. The last thing you want on a trip is a sticky fingered child (or car for that matter), so peeling oranges prior to departure can help cut down on the mess.

Here is our checklists of roadtrip friendly fruits, of course use your own judgement based on your child’s age and eating abilities (ex. grapes with a toddler who might not have perfected the art of chewing might be a “supervision only” food, and only if cut up)

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi
  • Honeydew
  • Cantaloupe
  • Currants
  • Avocado (tends to go brown, pack it with it’s seed and eat on the first day)
  • Figs
  • Strawberries

These super messy fruits tend to leave juice in their wake, and perhaps ones to bring at your own risk:

  • Blackberries 
  • Raspberries
  • Pomegranate
  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Peaches

2. Dried Fruit

You can buy these at the store or make them at home. Banana chips, apple chips and dried strawberries are always favorites. Tropical fruits are great, too, with papaya, mango and pineapple topping the list.

3. Fruit Leather

Health food stores use to be the only place to find these natural versions of the yummo fruit roll-up candy kids love. Now you can find them in your local grocer and big box. They are also easy to make at home: just throw some fruit in a blended and dehydrate the puree, or skip the blender all together and use baby food. Google “How to make fruit leather” for recipes.

4. Fruit Pouches

Speaking of pureed fruit, you can now find it everywhere in individual to-go pouches, and not just apple sauce. Peter Rabbit brand pouches are sold in grocery stores and Starbucks, but there isn’t really much separating them from the ones made by Plum, Happytots and Ella’s in the baby food aisle. Plus you are more likely to find a coupon for the ones in the baby food aisle. Too old for baby food? Think again…It’s a hot diet craze among the Hollywood glamour sect apparently, and of course they are known for their sanity and good choices.

If it makes you feel better, skip the baby food and make your own purees, there are refillable pouches on the market now so you can make them at home.

5. Chips and crisps

Wait a second, I thought you said “healthy”? Indeed, these aren’t your average potatoes, folks. Chips or crisps can be made out of practically anything these days. The store varieties include bagel and pita chips, but at home chips can be made out of everything from kale to beets.

6. Veggies

Carrot sticks, cut celery, broccoli and cauliflower- all the things that you normally find on a party veggie tray make great road trip companions. Edamame and peas make fun bite size snacks and let’s not forget about sliced peppers, nom. Can’t get the kids to eat veg? Their loss is your gain.

7. Freeze dried veggies

Target carries a line of Archer Farms freeze dried veggies like green peas and salted edamame.

8. Popcorn

Air popped, non-buttered (I.e. greasy) popcorn is terrific. If you need some flavor, try shaking it up in a bag with cinnamon and sugar or your favorite herbs immediately after it is done popping.

9. Jerky

Buy it at the store or make it at home for less preservatives.

10. Graham Crackers

Nom. Homemade or store bought, graham crackers are a favorite, A note about gluten: it has been linked to hyperactivity in kids, so before you lock yourself in  car for eight hours with the Exorcist version of the Tasmanian Devil, you may want to look into it yourself or opt for the gluten free kind just in case.

11. Regular Crackers

From saltines to fancy Flax, herb and kitchen sink crackers, these are great for car trips.

12. Cereals and Poofs

The perfect thing to pop when you are feeling a sweet and crunchy attack, and Plum and Happytots make baby poofs that are just like little cereal O’s only infused with veggies and fruits.

13. Lara Bars/ Date Bars

These end up being less for the kids and more for mom, but if they knew the bars were in the car and I wasn’t fending them off with my empty threats of turning the car around if they touch them…I bet they would like them as well. Recipes are online, just google it.

14. Nuts

Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans…just shell them prior to the trip. The same goes with…

15. Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a given, but what about pumpkin seeds?

16. Nut Butters

Straight from the pouch or on bread…Justin’s, oh dear gawd, Justin’s. ’nuff said.

 And now for two snacks you might want to leave at home

1. Nature’s Valley bars!

They are notorious for leaving a trail of crumbs in their wake. Its a safe bet that the day after you vacuum your car, one will find it’s way in again.

2. Little creme poofs 

These and these things are great–for older kids, but little kids who haven’t quite figured out how to keep them in their mouth? Not so great. They turn into sticky globs of colored goo that leaves stains on everything.

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My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery

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