10 Snacking Tips from Road Warriors

updated Dec 17, 2019
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Summer is travel season. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, chances are you’ll get in a car, catch a train, or board a plane at least once. And if your summer plans do involve travel, you’ll want to start thinking about snacks.

This week, we talked with five different road warriors, people who spend a good percentage of their lives getting from here to there and going basically everywhere, during the summer and throughout the year. They’ve got snacking down to a science, so we asked them to share their advice with us — and with you.

Here are their 10 best tips so you will never be hangry again.

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1. Bring your own bottle.

When you’re traveling, it’s easy to forget about hydrating, but it’s even more important to when you’re on the go — especially if you’ll be spending the next eight hours on an airplane. Sure, you can hit up the flight attendant for water every time she passes by, but bringing your own water bottle makes it easier for you to get your eight glasses and for your neighbor, who won’t have to deal with your constant requests. Everyone wins.

Our Pick: We suggest the Platypus SoftBottle — it’s lightweight, BPA-free, and, when empty, won’t take up precious space in your luggage. It comes in a half-liter ($7.95) and liter size ($8.95).

2. Keep it simple.

Not only are foods like granola bars, fresh fruit, salads, and sandwiches easier to prepare and harder to screw up than more elaborate concoctions, but chances are, they’re also what you’ll be craving when you’re on the road.

3. Get creative with your trail mix.

Trail mix is a no-brainer for any kind of travel. It takes basically zero prep work, it’s easy to transport, and it’s non-offensive to fellow passengers (unlike tuna). It’s also completely customizable, which means you have free range to throw in whatever floats your boat. Freelance writer Jen Murphy suggests “a mix of almonds, pistachios, dried cherries, white chocolate, dark chocolate chunks, and some shredded coconut.”

Pro Tip: To avoid an over-salted mix, opt for unsalted nuts.

4. Don’t overindulge.

While you want to avoid being hangry at all costs, it’s also a mistake to overeat —or overdrink. Keep all things in moderation while in transit, so you’ll be ready for a great meal that doesn’t consist of nuts and water when you arrive.

5. Resupply upon arrival.

Once you get to your destination, there’s still a need for provisions — if only to avoid paying $8 for a bottle of water at your hotel. It’s always smart to have easy breakfast items and snacks, especially if you’re dealing with jet lag and the 3 a.m. munchies strike. Plus, it’s fun to visit grocery stores in foreign places. You never know what treats you might discover. Did we mention that food souvenirs are the best souvenirs?

6. Pack for your method of transportation.

If you’re flying, training, or trekking — i.e., you’re responsible for carrying your luggage any distance greater than that between your car to your vacation rental — it’s a good idea to pack sparingly, says Birchbox cofounder Mollie Chen. “Think light and non-crushable,” she suggests.

If, on the other hand, you’re traveling by car, you can be a bit less constrained with your snacks. Mollie packs “small containers of peanut butter and carrot sticks, zip-top bags of sugar snap peas or frozen grapes, half sandwiches, and overnight oats.”

7. Bring a variety of snacks.

While we love trail mix, it can also get real boring, real fast. It’s a good idea to have something filling, something crunchy, something salty (but not too salty), and something sweet. (You know, all your basic food groups).

8. Order the cheese plate.

As a general rule, Gaby Dalkin, the blogger behind the popular What’s Gaby Cooking, suggests steering clear of airplane food. And be honest, even with improvements in in-flight offerings, is it ever actually good? The exception, however, is the cheese plate. It usually comes with cheese, crackers, and some fruit.

9. Make pit stops.

If you’re traveling by car, plan to make plenty of stops along the way to taste the local cuisine. This works best if you get off the big highways where the gas stations and rest stops serve the same terrible food wherever in the United States you are. Look for diners, roadside stands, and family-owned restaurants on back roads and historic byways. (Note: If you’re driving in a foreign country, especially Italy, the gas station rule doesn’t apply.)

10. Share your snacks.

This is most applicable if you’re traveling with people you know, but if you made a batch of cookies for your plane ride and the smells of baked goods are now wafting over to your seatmate, go ahead and offer her one. After all, notes Binta Niambi Brown, CEO and founder of Fermata Entertainment and Big Mouth Records, when you break companion down into its Latin roots, it translates as “with bread.”