Eating Healthy on a Road Trip


Most of us will have at least a few road trips this summer (some longer than others). Traveling in the car doesn’t mean you have to give up your healthy habits. It just takes a little planning.

We want to eat healthy while traveling for all the same reasons we want to eat healthy when we’re not traveling. It makes us feel good, it keeps our energy up (important on a long car ride), our mood up, and will make the whole traveling experience better! Not to mention most of us don’t enjoy gaining weight on vacation.

Want to feel good while traveling? Boost your energy and mood? Avoid unwanted weight gain? Check out these tips for healthy eating on the road #saslife Click To Tweet

A few tips to eating healthy on the road:

  • Eat when hungry (not bored): If you have the tendency to snack the whole time you’re in the car, then try to pre-portion snacks (especially nuts) and bring other things to entertain you like games, books on tape, iPads/iPods etc.
  • Keep it safe: Don’t forget about food safety rules while on the road.  Keep perishable foods like sandwiches, dairy products and cut fruits and veggies in a cooler with ice to keep them at a safe temperature.
  • Pick easy to eat foods: Pre-wash and slice fruits and veggies for easy eating. You can pre-slice pears or apples (try this rubber band trick for apples!) or pack bananas and grapes. Fruits with pits are messy (unless pre-sliced), as are juicy oranges. Veggies like baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and pre-sliced bell peppers are also great for car trips!
  • Stay hydrated: Be sure to bring plenty of water with you.  You can also try infused water or unsweetened iced tea for something different. Look out for caffeine overload on road trips; too much caffeine can actually cause fatigue.

Ideas on What to Eat


  • Pre-washed and sliced fruits and veggies make great snacks (see above)! Just remember to pair them with nuts, cheese or plain Greek yogurt (or another protein food) to "anchor" them. Whole grain crackers (like Whole Food’s 365 Baked Woven Wheats, ak-mak, or Wasa) pre-spread with some peanut butter or almond butter are easy to eat snacks as well. Remember to pre-portion any high calorie food (like nuts).
  • Roasted Garbonzo Beans would also be a great snack to have with some sliced veggies like red bell pepper strips, carrots or celery.
  • Check out this list of clean convenience foods that would all be great for a road trip.

Healthy Meals:

  • A simple sandwich or wrap made with 100% whole wheat, a lean protein, and added veggies makes a great on the go meal- cut it in half or quarters for easy eating (and keep it in the cooler!). Even a peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter) sandwich with some carrot sticks will have the healthy carbohydrates, protein and good for you fats to keep your energy and mood up!

If you’re on the road for a few days and you want to stop at a restaurant that you KNOW has some healthy options (like Chipotle or Panera), try the iExit App. This app will help you locate restaurants, stores, and even gas stations that are right off the highway.

*Don’t forget to get out and move around at every stop! Do jumping jacks, walking lunges, or pushups off the bumper while you’re pumping gas or take a brisk walk around the rest stop. The more you can move, the better you will feel!

Granola Bars
Recipe From Oh She Glows
Makes 14-16 large bars

These granola bars are a healthy portable snack that everyone will love! You can adapt them to fit any taste by using different nuts and dried fruit.  Another variation uses rolled oats, unsweetened coconut and nut/seed butter- check it out! The options are endless!


1 ½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
½–¾ cup dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries with no added sugar, or to taste*
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pepita seeds
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup hemp hearts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

*you can omit the dried fruit and sub in dark chocolate chips (or add a mix of both)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large rectangular baking dish (approximately 9" x 13") and line with a piece of parchment paper (with overhang) so the bars are easier to remove.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the banana until smooth. Make sure you have 1 1/2 cups (if you have extra mashed banana, you can freeze it for a smoothie).
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Place oats into a food processor (or blender set on the lowest speed) and pulse until coarsely chopped (but still have lots of texture). Stir the chopped oats into the banana mixture until fully incorporated.
  5. Stir the dried fruit, walnuts, sunflower and pepita seeds, almonds, hemp hearts, cinnamon, and salt into the banana-oat mixture until thoroughly combined. The dough will be very heavy and a bit wet.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish. With lightly wet hands, smooth out until even and uniform. Press down on the dough until compacted.
  7. Bake for 22 to 26 minutes, until firm and lightly golden along the edges.
  8. Place the dish on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then carefully slide a knife to loosen the ends and gently lift out. Place the slab on a cooling rack until completely cool.
  9. Once cool, slice into bars. I like to use a pizza slicer as it easily cuts through the dried fruit and nuts.
  10. Leftovers can be wrapped up and stored in the fridge for a week, or stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 weeks.




About Author

Kelly Gehle, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP


Kelly is a Nutritionist at the HCC at SAS Institute Inc. in Cary NC. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Arizona State University and her Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Her areas of expertise include functional nutrition, health and wellness education, prenatal nutrition, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition.

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