They are an abundance of snack foods on the market, but when it comes to car munchies, clean eating is key (and not the trendy use of the word). This guide will help you easily pick which road trip classics to munch on during a drive, and which snacks to wait for at your destination.


road trip

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Start off the early morning right with whole-grain cereal. Eating your favorite flakes dry is just as good as drenching them in milk. Put a few handfuls in a plastic bag or buy a convenient cereal cup while you wait for the gas to pump. Steer clear of cereals that normally change the color of the milk, these will leave your fingers way too sticky.

Best: Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Cap’n Crunch
Worst: Reese’s Puffs

Candied Nuts

road trip

Photo by Becky Hughes

Nuts are great for staying awake on the road because they are loaded with energy-boosting protein. Bonus, they fill you up longer so you can focus on singing along to the radio (and the highway) instead of snacking.  Satisfy a sweet tooth with candied nuts, but continue pretending you’ve made a healthy choice. Avoid shelled nuts that will make a huge mess as you eat them.

Best: Pralines, homemade trail mix
Worst: Unshelled peanuts, pistachios.

Granola Bars

road trip

Photo by Nicola Brooks

Choose a bar that will give you energy but won’t leave your seats all crumbly. Only eat Nature Valley bars if you have a passion for vacuuming out your interior at rest stops.

Best: Kind bars, Clif bars.
Worst: Nature Valley granola bars.


road trip

Photo by Amanda Gajdosik

There is something about the crunch of a chip that keeps your senses alert and your brain awake for the road. Chips with the least amount of powder or sticky residue are best because licking your fingers or finding stowaway napkins to clean up should not be a priority when you’re behind the wheel.

Best: Ritz toasted chips, Fritos, Baked Lays, tortilla chips (if you can bear them without salsa).
Worst: Cheetos, Doritos, salt and vinegar chips.


road trip

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Chocolate may be your BFF any other time, but not in a hot car where it can melt all over the seats. Stick to snacks with minimal amounts of chocolate and store them in a cool place, like next to the A/C vent. Not only is melted chocolate messy, but also it will make you guzzle water from the thirst, and expert roadies know that bathroom breaks should be kept to a minimum.

Best: M&M’s (Peanut, Pretzel, Almond, Peanut Butter…go crazy!)
Worst: Any type of chocolate bar.


road trip

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Make a game out of your snack to beat boredom on the road. See how fast you can unwrap a Starburst with just your mouth. We promise you’ll be entertained until the gaslight blinks on. Stay clear of candy that comes in tiny pieces that can easily be lost between seats, especially if it’s sticky. The sugar in candy is also dehydrating so make sure not to snack too much!.

Best: Starburst, peppermints.
Worst: Skittles, gummy bears.


road trip

Photo by Leigh Pond

If stopping for lunch doesn’t fit in the schedule, pack a sandwich that tastes better as it ages in the back seat. Peanut butter or nut alternatives soak up the flavors of other condiments, such as honey or jelly. Leave the turkey at home, those sandwiches and other deli meats are better eaten fresh.

Best: PB&J (with Fritos for extra crunch), PB honey and banana.
Worst: Deli meat, drippy condiments.