Indulging in local cuisine is one of the best parts about visiting a new place. The ultimate way to find the top food joints is to ask a resident where they frequent. But while you’re in the process of getting to your final destination—by plane, train or automobile—the food you’re eating is normally either grabbed on the fly (burgers, fries, shakes) or packed right before leaving (turkey sandwiches and PB&Js). There’s nothing wrong with any of these options, but greasy food won’t give you the energy you need to make it through a long day of travel and sandwiches feel a little boring.
There are certain limitations as to what you can chow down on depending on your mode of transportation, so we’ve figured all of that out for you. We can promise you this: If you pack just the right food options, you’ll be eating like royalty all day long and won’t mind logging such long hours on the road, on the tracks, or in the air. The better fed you are, the less hangry you’ll be, meaning once you get to your final stop, you’ll be ready to start catching the sights. With your health (and happiness) in mind, we’ve rounded up the top traveling food ideas. P.S., we’ve even got you covered once you check into your hotel. Scroll through to see our favorite picks.
Being in the comfort of your own vehicle means you can be a little bit messier with your packed food choices and you can bring a portable cooler. We like the idea of eating cold salads like pasta, quinoa or veggie out of a portable cup or tupperware container (just avoid anything with mayo). See our favorite recipe to take along in the car below.
This filling salad made with fresh corn, tomatoes, slices of mango and peppers and dressed with a rice vinegar/avocado oil/lime juice dressing tastes great at room temp (it will even hold up for a few hours without a cooler). With a prep time of only 10 minutes, you’ll be able to pack and do other last-minute travel odds and ends.
Other great car snacks:
- Raw veggies with pre-portioned guacamole snack cups
- Rice cakes with peanut butter
- Sliced turkey with pita bread
When you’re flying, you can never be too sure exactly how long your travel day will last. In the case of unexpected delays, you should always keep an actual meal with you so you don't have to resort to airport options (which usually consist of a not-so-healthy smoothie place, several burger places, and a coffee place with a line snaking out into the terminal). We like the idea of a hearty wrap with hummus that will satisfy you even when you find out you’re thirtieth in line for take-off. And just remember: no liquids.
This vegetarian wrap filled with thinly sliced cucumber, spinach, wedges of avocado and fresh sprouts is amped up with a homemade spicy roasted red pepper hummus. It’s perfect because it’s totally filling and has just the right amount of crunch without disturbing your neighbor. Bonus points that you can easily pack some of the extra hummus in a to-go container to snack on later with some pita chips.
Other great plane snacks:
- Dried mango slices
- Fresh fruit that doesn’t need to be cut (like grapes, bananas and apples)
- Pre-sliced cheese and whole-grain crackers
Train rides can be long and monotonous, so you’re definitely going to need some goodies that you can look forward to. Since you likely have a mini tray table and aren’t going too fast, you can set up a nice spread of appetizer-type items—our go-to is the homemade white bean artichoke topping below.
We know, we know, we’re all about the spreads right now. But you can literally whip up this white bean and artichoke mixture in as little as ten minutes, throw it in some tupperware, and eat it pretty much all day long. It tastes great on those pre-made toasts you can pick up at the store, on wheat bread, and even with pretzels.
Other great train snacks:
- Sugar-free pudding cups
- Protein bars (check the sugar content!)
- String cheese
Just because you’ve gotten to your hotel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t store some snacks. Early mornings of exploring mean you may need to grab a healthy breakfast on-the-go (we love the granola bars below). You’ll also have many more options for late-night snacks since you’ll have a mini fridge (and maybe even a microwave!).
These are the ultimate granola bars to pack in your bag for when a moment of hunger strikes. This recipe makes a total of 12 bars, so it’s especially great if you’re traveling as a family (just keep them in an airtight container like this to keep them fresh). The toasted buckwheat, sliced almonds and flax meal automatically make these healthier than the grocery-store version … plus, everyone will love the tartness from the dried cherries mixed with the mini chocolate chips.
Other great hotel snacks:
- Microwave popcorn (or pre-made popcorn)
- Greek yogurt
Be sure to read about how to score cheap hotel rooms, and tell us which travel snack you want to try first in the comments.