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  • Writer's pictureErin

Traveling on a Real Food Diet

Updated: Nov 19, 2020


Traveling can be a challenge when fast-food and convenience store snacks are not a part of your family’s health plan. I gave up long ago trying to find quality real food while on the road. When my family takes any sort of road trip now, I do a significant amount of food prep the day before. While this is certainly time consuming on the front end, we are all much happier and healthier on our trip.

Travel food
summer sausage, plantain chips, blueberries, and cucumber slices

What are the benefits of taking most of your own food?

  1. Save tons of money!

  2. Save time on the road. We don’t stop much to eat while traveling; we just open up our cooler, pass the food around and keep driving.

  3. Feel better as you travel. Eating out, fast food, hotel breakfasts, and highly processed, sugary snacks can leave everyone in the family feeling cranky and worn down by the end of vacation. On the other hand, eating your pre-prepped homemade food keeps everyone in their best shape to fully enjoy the trip.

  4. Real food from home just tastes better.

  5. Convenience - It’s so nice when you are at your destination to have food on hand. You don’t have to go searching for a snack or a meal; they are all within an arm's reach.

So, what to take:

This past year my family of 5 has gone on a few different road trips. For every trip I prepped the food below to take with us and we were all so happy that I did. Here are some things that work really well for my family. Everything here is easily portable, can be eaten cold, and does well in a cooler for a few days.

  1. Overnight Oats - My kids love these. I make them in small mason jars and keep them in the cooler. They last at least 3 days. I omit the greek yogurt for my family and add frozen berries to the top before I seal the jars. This trip I made two flavors: Blueberry and Raspberry-chocolate chip.

  2. Hard-boiled Eggs - Perfect for breakfast, a snack, or part of any meal. I cook a dozen, peel them, and keep them in a gallon sized zipper bag.

  3. Chia Pudding - My husband doesn’t do great with oats so he prefers this for breakfast (with a smoothie). I double this recipe and fill 5-6 small mason jars. I take some salted cashews, blueberries, and pumpkin seeds for topping.

  4. Magnesium Muffins - Yummy. Easy. Super healthy. Best eaten in the first 48 hours. I don’t keep these in the cooler.

  5. Summer Sausage and Plantain Chips - This is the cleanest summer sausage I have found. It’s always a part of our travel food. I cut ahead of time and store in a ziploc bag. Kids love it with some plantain chips, fruits and veggies.

  6. Chicken Salad - It’s so easy to make a big batch of chicken salad. I store it in large jars and we just scoop out what we need for a meal.

  7. Apricot Basil Meatballs - I love these! And the best part is they taste pretty good cold too. Make a double batch and let them cool, then store in a ziploc bag. Great for breakfasts or snacks.

  8. Smoothies - For short trips (2-3 days) I typically make a couple large smoothies and store them in mason jars for us to have with breakfast or as a snack. And...this might sound a little extreme to some of you, but we often travel with our Vitamix blender. My husband actually requests that we bring it along. (We really love our Vitamix!) I just add some kale or spinach, cucumber, beets, bananas and frozen mango to our cooler and we have everything we need to make a fresh, yummy smoothie whenever we want it. Check out these recipes here and here if you need inspiration.

  9. Fresh fruits and veggies - On vacation, fresh fruits and veggies are often neglected and although I’m much more relaxed about food on vacation, I still require my kids to get some good, raw nutrients every day. So pack whatever fruits and veggies your family loves. I typically bring grapes, blueberries, apples, bananas, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. I wash and cut up most of them ahead of time to simplify things.

Voila! With these foods in your cooler you’ll be set to eat well while traveling.

In addition to “meal” foods, I also pack snack foods. Most of these foods I typically avoid or limit at home but they are “clean-ish” treats for long car rides that keep the kids (therefore mom and dad) happy! And they are certainly 100 times better than the gas station snacks you’ll see along the way.

Travel food
Veggie Straws and blueberries


  1. Larabars - these are our 3 favorite flavors: Blueberry Muffin, Apple Pie, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. ***Tip*** These are significantly cheaper at Wal-Mart than anywhere else I have seen.

  2. Annie’s Gummies - because gummies make everything better.

  3. Veggie Straws - my kids LOVE these things and they are a great source of entertainment in the car.

  4. Plantain Chips - the perfect snack and good with any meal, hummus, dip, etc.

  5. Fruit Strips - my kids' favorite flavor is grape. It’s mine too because most other flavors have added preservatives.

  6. Boom Chicka Pop Salted Popcorn - a pretty perfect car snack.

  7. Dried fruits and nuts - my family’s favorites are raisins, apple juice-sweetened cranberries, and salted cashews.

What else do you need to eat on the road?

  1. Bowls- I pack a plastic bowl per person. We use these for every meal and snack while on the road.

  2. Utensils

  3. Paper towels

  4. Wipes - be sure to get some non-toxic ones. These are my favorite. They aren’t just for diaper changes. They are perfect for sticky hands and faces, nose wipes, cleaning out your plastic bowls, and small spills.

  5. Water bottles - Everyone has their own stainless steel or glass water bottle for the drive. We bring a few gallons of filtered water to fill them up along the way.

Happy Traveling!


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