Make the most out of road trip snacking with these strategies

Snacks are one of the key parts of a road trip. Crunching on something salty or sweet that you picked up at a gas station can or a rest stop vending machine somehow makes the time pass if the road is stretching a little too far in front of you. It also may be the one time when you give yourself permission to indulge.

There are several snacking approaches that tried and true road trippers have used to make their drive better. Here are the details:

If you see something local, don’t pass it up

As driving miles add up, you’ll be passing through a lot of areas that you wouldn’t normally visit. Make the most of it and see what unique things you can find to eat.

Local treats can be the best part of a road trip. You know they’re really good if you’re still thinking about them miles after you’ve finished the last bite.

What kinds of things do we mean? One example is Johnson’s Corner, a Colorado truck stop with a huge, quirky gift shop that features both travel necessities and batches of small souvenirs. They’re famous across state lines for serving cinnamon rolls that are the size of small plates and loaded with cream cheese frosting. Kansas and Nebraska gift shops feature another item that area locals swear by — sizable packages of Dot’s pretzels. They’re garlicky flavored pretzel sticks that keep the whole car happy.

Lastly, just about anywhere you drive you could come across a roadside stand that is selling food items. If you see one, stop. These stands can feature local fruits or vegetables, tamales, or other standards that are local to the area. As an added benefit, the money you spend there stays in the local economy.

Embrace the differences in breakfast road trip food

Breakfast road trip food can and really should involve more than just leftovers of last night’s snack chips. Think egg sandwiches. Warm breakfast burritos. A dairy-based breakfast in a glass or a smoothie. It’s portable and it is possibly going to be what will start your day. This is one case when you might not want to skip breakfast, you’ll enjoy it. Most important meal of the day or not, it’s worth trying something new.

Sweet in the morning, salty or sour later on, caffeine anytime

Pessar/Flickr

This strategy is more of a guideline but generally, lots of people naturally gravitate towards sweeter foods in the morning. This could be because they’re used to sweeter foods at breakfast or their body is craving an extra energy boost from carbs. Later on is the time to break out the salty snacks. That’s when nacho chips, pork rinds, and cheese popcorn come into their own.

However, there’s one thing that’s common for road trippers at any time of the day – caffeine.

On a road trip, there are lots of ways to get your caffeine. You can find it in coffee or iced tea, in a shake, an energy drink, or an energy chew. However it comes, road trippers and their drivers have it at any time to keep focused and to help the miles pass.

Don’t rule out healthy

Believe it or not, it is possible to have healthy road trip snacks. While chips, ice cream, and gas station hot dogs get all the attention, better food choices can have a place in your car. Lots of times they’re also easier on your wallet and they don’t require a pit stop to enjoy them.

The trick with healthy snacks is that you’ll probably have to make them at home before you go. Even though some roadside stores and gas stations try to offer things like fruit, wrapped cheese sticks, or eggs, let’s be honest – they’re not really that interesting. If you plan ahead you can bring cheese and meat from home, make a delicious trail mix, or make single-serving salads.  Keep in mind that traveling with fresh food means you have to think about keeping things cool and out of the sun. It’s easy with planning. The last thing you want is a sick passenger or driver.

Hydration is still important

Yeah, It’s likely to make you have to stop more often if you hydrate, but do it anyway, especially on multi-day drives.  And we’re talking about the healthiest forms of hydration that you can find. Something simple. Possibly even water.

If you’re going to enjoy road trip snacks, you’ll be better off staying hydrated. Trust us. It’s worth the extra pit stops it might cause.

This is important because anytime you’re not eating well, you’re body is going to feel it. Maybe later in the afternoon as the highway in front of you seems long. Maybe not until a day or two later. But your body is going to have to process all that junk food you’re consuming. Water or some other kind of nutritious hydration will help.

If, as it turns out, water does make you have to stop more often, there’s an upside. You may find more snack shops, and more interesting local snacks, to explore.

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