There is something about a long road trip that brings out everyone’s appetite. It’s not as if your body needs loads of calories to fuel hours of sitting in the bus or car, but for some reason being vehicle-bound that long makes us want to snack – constantly.
Fortunately, with a bit of thought and forward planning, you can satisfy your road trip-induced snacking urges and keep your body fuelled in a healthy way at the same time. The best plan usually is to pack your own food – that way you’ll never be left scrambling whatever sugary or fatty treats are available from the vending machine or shop whenever you make a rest stop, or worse yet, to succumb to the lure of the fast food outlet.
To make this work, you need to pack food that is tasty and filling – otherwise you’ll be tempted to purchase extra treats. It should also be easy to eat, with a minimum of fuss and mess involved. Finger foods are ideal, while anything involving cutlery or juggling too many separate containers at once may prove a challenge.
If you often crave salty snacks such as crisps, consider nuts, seeds, rice cakes or airpopped popcorn as an alternative treat. Nuts and seeds are packed with protein and heart-friendly omega-3 fats which will keep you feeling satisfied longer – just be careful of portion size, as they are quite high in calories. Plain rice cakes and popcorn are low in fat and can be seasoned at home with your preferred flavourings – this means you can control the amount of salt, sugar and fat added.
Fruit is one of the best snack options for travellers – delicious, nutritious and very portable. Its high fibre content will keep you feeling full, while the natural sugars will satisfy your sweet tooth. Just remember to pack a plastic carrier bag for peels, pits, cores and other inedible bits. Or if you don’t want to deal with the mess, or are afraid your fresh fruit will get squished or start to smell in a hot vehicle, consider dried versions – apple rings, pineapple cubes or dried cranberries will feel like even more of a treat.
If you want something that feels more like a meal, you can’t beat a good old-fashioned sandwich. One of the most easily transported of foods, there are still certain considerations that may make your sandwiches an even more appealing snack. Try a crusty roll instead of soft bread – this is less likely to get squashed or grow soggy as the day wears on.
Similarly, if you like toppings such as lettuce and tomato on your sandwiches, pack these separately and only add them when you’re about to eat – this will also prevent mushy sandwiches. You may also want to avoid fillings such as egg, mayonnaise or prawns unless you’re bringing a cooler – these tend to go off much quicker than fillings such as peanut butter or hummous.
Speaking of hummous, a selection of sliced vegetables with hummous dip is an excellent healthy snack and ideal for bus travel or car trips. Because of its thicker texture, hummous is less likely to drip or spill, and its protein and fibre content and rich flavour will go a long way toward satisfying your cravings. You can always add cubes of cheese or small containers of yoghurt to the mix for an extra dose of calcium and taste (remember that these won’t keep indefinitely without refrigeration so shouldn’t be left too long before eating).
Finally, if you are caught out on a road trip without your snacks, it is still possible to find healthier alternatives to the standard crisps and chocolate bars en route. Look for pre-packaged trail mix made up of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and whole grains, or cereal bars containing the same (not the sugary, chocolate-covered type).
What are your favourite snacks to bring on a road trip?