Are you going on a journey by car, train, or plane? It’s time to prepare and pack some handy, nutritious and healthy food! Here are some suggestions of perfect travel snacks so you can stay clear of fast food restaurants and you don’t get overcharged for mediocre food in airports and train stations.
What should ideal travel snacks be like?
The perfect snacks and meals to take on a journey have a few things in common. Here’s what you should look for when choosing your foods and packing your travel bag.
- The snacks should not be too messy. There’s nothing worse than sandwich dressing leaking though the wrapper and staining your hands, clothes, and everything around you. Your travel snacks should be made in such a way that even a child won’t get dirty.
- It would be nice if they didn’t have a strong smell. If you are travelling in your own car, your travel companions may be a bit more understanding. But eating a mackerel spread sandwich in a shared train compartment on a hot day may not be welcome by other passengers.
- They will have to last outside the fridge without deteriorating. Most products, even the fresh ones, can sit up to 2 hours outside the fridge without the risk of spoilage. A longer journey, however, requires more careful menu choices, using a cooler bag or a coolbox. Better safe than sorry – accidental food poisoning will compromise your trip and ruin your holiday.
Once you have chosen your snacks for the journey, consider the practicalities. Wrap the snacks in convenient aluminium foil, reusable wax wraps, or put them in zip-lock bags. Keep them in a cooler bag to preserve their nice texture. You can also invest in special lunchboxes with cooling packs. You will also definitely need napkins or paper towel.
Ideas for healthy travel snacks
Wholesome travel sandwiches
Sandwiches on the road are old news, and you are surely hoping to get some other ideas, too, but a wholesome sandwich is a proven classic. Prepare them with wholemeal bread or brown bread rolls, as they are healthier and will keep you filled for longer. Don’t forget about proteins and fruit or vegetables. A bunch of classic flavour combinations for your journey:
- Whole wheat bread sandwich with lean turkey ham + peppers + lettuce
- Wholegrain roll with cream cheese spread + beetroot + walnuts
- Wheat bread sandwich with hummus + pickled cucumber
Not enough protein in your sandwich? Have it with a handful of nuts (for vegetarians) or poultry kabanos sausages.
Wholesome travel sweets
To stay away from candy bars, chocolate and other sweets, remember to put some healthy variations of sweet snacks in your food bag. Stock up on store-bought sweet snacks:
- A pack of dried fruit: apricots, raisins, dates, cranberries.
- Dried fruit in dark chocolate.
- Healthy grain and nut bars (pay close attention to ingredients, all that glitters is not gold).
- A dark chocolate bar (if you have a coolbox).
- Your favourite nuts, seeds and grains.
Home-made oat cookies or fruit muffins are also a great travel choice. They are not messy, and they taste great on the go.
Recipe for healthy oat and nut travel cookies
- 1 ripe banana,
- 55 g (half cup) oatmeal,
- 1 tsp cocoa,
- 20 g raisins,
- 20 g hazelnuts.
- Mash the ripe banana well with a fork.
- Chop the hazelnuts into smaller pieces.
- Combine the oatmeal and the banana. Add cocoa, raisins and nuts.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and form small cookies.
- Bake them for approx. 25 minutes in a preheated oven.
Macronutrients (whole serving):
- Energy: 520 kcal,
- Protein: 14 g,
- Fat: 17 g,
- Carbohydrates: 71 g.
Fruit is one of the best snacks you can take on the road. It is engaging to eat, tasty and packed with vitamins. However, don’t go for anything that’s delicate and messy. It might not be the best time to have blueberries or soft strawberries. You should rather choose firm and easy-to-carry fruit, such as grapes, watermelon and other melons, apples, firm pears, peaches and nectarines, greenish bananas.
Put the fruit in containers. You can cut them in pieces straight away to make snacking easier. Don’t forget about toothpicks, they will help you reach for the fruit chunks.
Vegetables on the road
Vegetable chunks served with a healthy dip are a perfectly healthy snack on the go. The huge advantage is that you can make the dips for ready-to-eat cut vegetables on your own and carry them in a cooler bag, or you can get them from any smaller shop or petrol station. Vegetable spreads sold in jars that don’t need to be refrigerated before opening are also a great choice.
Cut the vegetables in sticks. You can use peppers, cucumbers, radishes, kohlrabi, broccoli stems, chunks of raw cauliflower, celery, carrots, and so on.
The following will work great as dips for the veggies:
- Home-made cottage cheese with your favourite seasoning,
- Hummus in various flavours,
- Store-bought vegetable spread in a jar (you don’t need to refrigerate it before opening!).
Also take a packet of natural crackers, crisp bread or rice cakes. They make a perfect match for the dips and provide more energy.
Healthy and handy travel fast food – some meal ideas
Wholesome travel lunchbox
A lunchbox full of healthy ingredients will be a perfect travel meal when you get really hungry. Create it according to your taste, you will need four elements:
- Carbohydrate base: rice, groats, boiled potatoes, oven-baked sweet potatoes, pasta.
- Healthy vegetable(s): boiled broccoli, oven-baked cauliflower, chopped red cabbage, peppers, spinach, cherry tomatoes, grated carrots, zucchini noodles.
- Proteins: a small can of maize, a small can of beans, a small can of chickpeas, grilled chicken breast, a handful of beef jerky, tuna or salmon in a small can.
- An ingredient to combine all flavours: avocado, hummus, vegetable spread, yoghurt, a small bottle of olive oil, a single portion sachet of salad dressing, half a lemon (to squeeze out the juice).
It’s best not to combine ingredients right away in the lunchbox (especially if you have a long journey ahead of you). Carry them in separate containers (such as a small can of maize or tuna) or ‘natural packaging’ (such as whole avocados). Combine them before eating.
Wholesome tortilla wraps for a stop on the way
This simple meal will fill many travellers in 10 minutes. Take paper plates and separately packed ingredients with you. You can prepare these healthy tortilla wraps anywhere: in a car park, on a campsite, in the outdoors.
Ingredients (4 servings):
- 4 wholegrain tortillas,
- 1 bag of rocket or spinach,
- 150 g vegetable sandwich spread in a jar, such as dried tomatoes spread,
- 170 g canned maize – 2 small single-serving cans,
- 1 pack of olives (ca. 200 ml),
- 170 g canned black beans – 2 small single-serving cans,
- 2 carrots cut into sticks.
- Transfer the tortillas to a paper plate. Put the spread on each tortilla, followed by rocket, bell sticks and carrot sticks.
- Drain the bean and maize cans. Drain the olives.
- Top with beans, maize and olives. You can also toss in other ingredients, such as feta cheese, sauce, or other vegetables.
- Wrap the tortillas.
Macronutrients (1 serving):
- Energy: 442 kcal,
- Protein: 12.25 g,
- Fat: 21 g,
- Carbohydrates: 41 g.
A travel food bag essential
Don’t forget your water! This is the most important part of your travel kit. Don’t refrain from drinking out of fear of making more toilet stops. Good hydration is key to staying healthy when you travel. If you remain still (for instance seated in a vehicle), your chances of developing dangerous blood clots increase. You will minimise this risk by drinking enough water.