Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and summertime means travelling. Now that we are able to travel without too much concern it’s easier to get to meet up with friends and family, or to take that trip that has been on hold for a few summers.
Whether you are traveling by vehicle or through air travel snacks are always involved. These snacks for travel don’t have to mean that you are destined to abandon the effort you’ve put into your lifestyle change. Here are some ways to approach your travel that will keep you in-line with your real food approach.
The first thing to evaluate is your mindset toward your travel. The way that you set it up in your head will have much to do with the outcome. In your mind, how do you approach your travel?
“I’m going all out. No holds barred!” or “I’m going to enjoy myself, but not go off the rails with my food choices.”
If you go into it with the mindset that everything is on the table, nothing is off limits, then making appropriate choices will be much harder. If you are thinking more like the latter, then you are at least starting off with the ability to set yourself up for success.
Real Food Travel Snacks
As with anything, a little planning and preparation can be beneficial when getting ready for traveling snacks. You can start with grabbing a few snacks from the stores you usually visit in the days leading up to your travels. Otherwise, remember there are many places to get snacks along the way, including gas stations (preferably ones with a larger food selection such as a food mart), pharmacy store chains that usually offer a little more variety than the gas station, and even grocery stores along the way. Remember, fast food isn’t always the only option.
Let’s divide these snacks into categories:
nuts & seeds
These are tried and true and available almost everywhere. They come packaged differently but they can all work.
- individual nuts or seeds These are pretty easy to find, whether it’s a pack of cashews or a pack of sunflower seeds they are available in nearly all gas stations, airports, grocery stores, and everywhere in between
- nut mixes These would include a mix of a variety of nuts and maybe some seeds. These are largely available in most places that sell snacks.
- flavored nuts and seeds These have gained popularity and can be good fit for a road trip. These flavors can range from ranch flavored sunflower seeds to salt and vinegar flavored pistachios, with a lot of flavor varieties in between. These are a good mix of flavor and crunch with a dash of saltiness added to them.
- trail mix Trail mix usually offers a sweet balance to the saltiness of nuts and seeds. Sometimes the sweetness comes from raisins or dried cranberries, sometimes they have a few pieces of chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or candy mixed in. Either way trail mix is a good way to get your salty-sweet fix without bouncing between chips and candy.
meat-based protein snacks
While it may sound unappealing to have a meat-based snack they are a great option and they travel well. They are tasty too!
- beef jerky & biltong There are many brands that work well. Look for brands that don’t have MSG. Sugar is not usually something to get too concerned with here, but the depending on the flavor it may have a fair amount of sugar. In case you’re wondering, biltong is air-dried, cured meat, similar to beef jerky but typically not as tough. Stryve is a brand that’s become easy to find.
- meat sticks What we used to eat as a Slim Jim when I was a kid has gotten an upgrade. A meat stick can give you a savory and sometimes spicy treat with some extra protein. Some brands to look for are Country Archer Provisions and Duke’s Meats.
- meat bars These are in-between beef jerky and meat stick. My favorite brands are Epic Provisions and Tanka Bar, and they offer a real food protein meat that’s been dehydrated and vacuum sealed but is not as dry.
fruits & veggies
- dried fruit These offer a tasty sweet alternative to candy. I know dried fruit is not the same as candy, but it can fill the void without excessive sugar. Dried mango, banana chips, or apple crisps can be found in many gas station food marts.
- whole fruits or veggies This requires a little forethought if you want to pack it. Look for fruits and veggies that are more hardy if you are packing it, such as apples or grapes instead of a banana. However many gas stations do carry bananas if you are looking for a fruit that you will eat immediately. Additionally carrots, celery, or baby bell peppers can travel well instead of something like cucumbers, unless you have them ready to eat and kept in an ice chest.
- whole food chips Some whole food chips such as plantain chips, kale chips, beet chips, even mushroom crisps can be an upgrade to traditional bagged potato or corn chips.
- chickpea snacks These are fairly new to the food scene, but can offer a good crunch and flavor to your snacking. Chickpeas are great sources of fiber, so you get a little more bang for your buck when you switch them out for chips.
- chewing gum Chewing gum satisfies the desire to chew. Be on the lookout for what sweetens the gum, as it’s usually either sugar or aspartame which are no good. Some chewing gums, such as Pur Gum are sweetened with xylitol which is a much better alternative.
- Greek yogurt A little less unusual as a travel snack, but some of the bigger gas stations are now carrying Greek yogurt as an option. This allows you to enjoy your sweet desire while getting some protein also.
- cheese sticks Again, these are becoming more common in the refrigerated sections of larger gas stations. You may be able to find a variety to include mozzarella, colby jack, or cheddar.
- snack packs Just like you’d find in the grocery store, some places offer snack packs that include cheese cubes, nuts, and dried fruit. This satisfies all the desires – sweet, salty, crunchy – in one snack.
- protein or meal replacement bars These are becoming increasingly easier to get your hands on. Keep in mind they may be enough calories and protein to replace a meal, so read the label.
- high protein cookies Last but not least, if you’re looking for something sweet, you can get cookies that have the added benefit of protein. This will do both, limit the amount you eat (because they are usually 1-2 cookies in a pack); and the protein can decrease the way your blood sugar responds. They are not the greatest travel snack, but still an option.
Remember on your travels, fast food is not the only option to get food. All cities have grocery stores that offer a much larger variety of real food options. It may be a few miles out of the way, but hey, it’s an adventure!