Nine Healthy Snacks For Kids (And You!) While Traveling

By Ali Luke
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It can be difficult to eat healthily whilst traveling, especially when you have kids who need regular snacks. Often, motorway service stations consist of fast food outlets, vending machines full of chocolate, and shops selling supersized bags of chips – not the healthiest fare for your family. A bit of pre-planning goes a long way: here’s nine snacks to pack in your bag before setting off.Water

Top of the list is water: make sure you have enough with you. Carry a spare bottle in the car in case you get stuck in traffic or have to take a long detour. Buy bottled water at the airport (once past security) to take onto the plane – and if fizzy drinks are available, limit the number your kids are allowed.

Fresh fruit

Small apples and easy-to-peel satsumas are ideal for little hands, as are bananas. A handful of grapes also works well – pack them in a small Tupperware container so they don’t get squashed.

Dried fruit

If fresh fruit is difficult to carry due to space restrictions or vacationing in a hot environment, take small packets of dried fruit. Mini boxes of raisins are always popular with kids, but try other fruits too – dried apricots, dates, figs, mango and pineapple are great ones.

Nuts

The fat found in nuts is the good, mono-unsaturated sort. Nuts are high-calorie, though, so dish them out in moderation, rather than giving the kids a huge packet to dig into. Peanuts are a crowd-pleaser, but small bags of mixed nuts can provide more variety. Pistachio nuts are fun, if you have somewhere to dispose of the shells!

Granola bars

Easy to pop into a rucksack or pocket, granola bars are perfect for a quick “fill the gap” snack if you have to wait a long time between meals. They’re also easy to eat whilst walking, if you’re having an active holiday.

Trail mix

Another great one for walking and camping holidays, trail mix provides lots of energy in compact form. Why not let the kids help you make your own? You can throw a whole range of things in there, though go easy on the chocolate chips and M&Ms in favor of some breakfast cereal – and of course, dried fruit and nuts.

Popcorn

Small bags of popcorn are easy for little hands and mouths, and make a much better snack than crisps or chocolate. Great for the back of the car (though you may need to vacuum dropped bits of popcorn off the upholstery afterwards…) or long train journeys.

Rice cakes

Try mini rice-cakes for a healthy, filling and kid-friendly snack. There’s a great range of flavored ones from Snack-a-Jack, which you can persuade your kids to eat instead of crisps. Great car food, but not ideal if space is limited or if they’re likely to get crushed by other baggage.

Hard Candy

Okay, this last one is hard to claim as the healthiest snack ever – but boiled sweets are much better than chocolate. Let your kids pick a few favorites (you can even get sugar-free versions if you’re worried about their teeth). They’re especially useful on planes, as sucking a sweet helps your kids’ ears to “pop”.

What snacks do you stash in your bag when traveling? Do you have an easy-eating favorite for walking, plane journeys or the car?

29 Comments

  1. Leslie

    Dried fruits are way to go.I always take a list and dried fruits have become a favorite,healthy and not messy.

    Reply
  2. CityReviewer

    I have the perfect product for time-crunched moms! GoPicnic just came out with MightyMunch meals for kids. These meals are what my kids eat for lunch everyday at school and then I don’t have to prepare them! The meals focus on natural ingredients and clean labels and are completely free of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and peanuts & tree nuts, the most common allergens. PLUS- all of the MightyMunch meals are balanced to 35-10-35 nutrition standards that limit the amount of fat, saturated fat, and sugar in each meal, recommended by many school districts and advocacy groups for kids’ healthy eating. I order them online at http://www.gopicnic.com. Enjoy!

    Reply
  3. Millie

    Just seeing this. Rice cakes are high glycemic index and very low satiety value. They turn to sugar very quickly and very little nutrition. if you are going to use them, add peanut butter (natural/no trans fat) or other nut butter. Very good info on this though.

    Reply
  4. Suzanne

    I like rice cakes, esp the cheese-flavored ones. food has to be fun sometimes. They aren’t bad for you. And the crunch is satisfying.

    Reply
  5. guest

    Rice cakes are not healthy nor filling, geez.

    Reply
  6. Spectra

    Great ideas for snacks, but I probably wouldn’t put granola bars on there because most of them are full of trans fats and HFCS and some of them are covered in chocolate, making them no better for you than a chocolate bar. What about fresh veggies, cut up into fun shapes? You can buy little 1-2 ounce Tupperwares that you can put any kind of dip you want to in them and stash your cooler full of those…I’ve found that most of my friends’ kids REALLY like jicama and carrot sticks with ranch yogurt dip.

    Reply
  7. HeartStrong

    Interesting Post.

    Heart Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet:

    Fish – Salmon, Tuna (contain omega 3 fatty acids)

    Oatmeal (contains omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, folate, fiber)

    Beans (contain fiber, B- complex vitamins, magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium)

    Nuts – Unsalted Almonds, Walnuts, handful every day (contain omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E,
    magnesium, fiber) Can help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, decrease risk for heart disease.

    Brown Rice (contains fiber, magnesium, B-complex vitamins)

    Vegetables – such as Carrots, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Red Bell Peppers (contain fiber, calcium, vitamins)

    Fruits – such as Blueberries, Oranges, Cantaloupe, Tomatoes, Grapes (contain fiber, vitamins)

    Tea – Green or Black Tea, preferably whole leaves, avoid adding milk to tea (contains catechins and flavonoids)

    Dark Chocolate – with 70% or higher cocoa content, in moderation (contain flavonoids)

    Ground Flaxseed (contains fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, phytoestrogens)

    Check out http://www.heart-strong.com for more heart healthy nutrition tips.

    Reply
  8. VesnaVK

    Right, the nuts are good. Kids need protein and fat, for their muscles and brains. That’s why whole milk is better for them than skim.

    Humans do not require sugar and starch. Fruits are a nice treat sometimes. However, it’s a myth that the sugar in fruit in somehow harmless because it comes packaged in an unprocessed plant product.

    Reply
  9. Les

    We take dry cereal in small bags, also chopped into small pieces pepperoni, cheese and celery mix up and take in an airtight container. Cherry tamatoes are good too, chopped mixed salad is great with a small container of hummus. Bananas are great for on the go. What about natural youghurt with chopped fruit as well if you can take spoons along.

    Reply
  10. Ali from TheOfficeDiet

    Deirde, thanks for that. Yes, ‘boiled sweets’ are ‘hard candy’ (I learn new things every day from the US community here on Diet Blog.) My reasoning was that a child might eat slowly suck one or two pieces of hard candy over the course of half an hour — whereas a big chocolate bar could be munched down in ten minutes.

    You’re completely right about the tooth issue and the additives, though. I should have considered those.

    Reply
  11. Ali from TheOfficeDiet

    Starch is necessary for energy, especially with kids. (I’m really not a low-carb advocate!)

    Of course there are lots of other healthy options like chopped raw veggies, but I was focusing on what people’s kids would likely eat — and what would travel well. I think skim milk for kids is a great snack, but not one you could take in a hot car.

    Reply
  12. Ali from TheOfficeDiet

    Thanks for the tips, Kami — I agree it’s hugely important to read labels. And home-made is always going to be best!

    Reply
  13. Ali from TheOfficeDiet

    Yes, hard candy — we call them ‘boiled sweets’ here in the UK. Sorry for any confusion!

    Reply
  14. Jess

    I love oatcakes. do you have them in the states?

    Reply
  15. Deirdre

    I’m assuming boiled sweets are what we call hard candy in the states? I would not consider hard candy better than chocolate. The sugary version is bad for the teeth. The sugar-free version is has sugar substitutes I don’t want to eat myself let alone give to my children. Most hard candy has food coloring. Young children can easily choke on most hard candy, especially in moving vehicles. Chocolate, however, is less bad for the teeth, less likely to contain artificial ingredients, less sugary, and actually has some nutritional value. I would much rather my children ate chocolate than hard candy.

    Hard candy has it’s moments — it feels good on a sore throat or to help pop ears (gum’s good for that as well), but I have no idea where the idea that it is healthier than chocolate comes from.

    In answer to the question — in addition to fruit, dried fruit, nuts, and trail mix, some snacks my kids enjoy while we are out are raw carrots, sugar snap peas, fresh green beans, lightly steamed broccoli or cauliflower florets, fruit leather, hummos with something to dip in it, some of the healthier snack foods, such as Veggie Booty, bagels with spread, pieces of peanut & butter sandwich, anything wrapped up in a tortilla and sliced thin, small pieces of cheese…

    Reply
  16. Erin

    Rice cakes are pretty nutritionally void, especially for feeding kids!

    Reply
  17. SCal

    Same with fat in nuts.

    Reply
  18. Yongho Shin

    Just because fruits contain sugar does not mean that it is bad…

    Reply
  19. VesnaVK

    Let’s see:

    • Water
    • Sugar
    • Sugar
    • Nuts (Protein and fat)
    • Starch and Sugar
    • Nuts with sugar
    • Starch
    • Starch
    • Sugar

    Hmmm.

    Let us know when you come up with some tips for healthy snacks. Besides nuts and water.

    Reply
  20. NeoVitin

    These are all good ideas. My family loves pistachios, but as stated they can be somewhat of a mess. Another snack that I really like is sunflower seeds. The flavored ones can become less healthy, but just regular seeds are still a snack I thoroughly enjoy.

    Reply
  21. Kami Gray

    I agree with 7 out of 9. Granola bars that you make yourself are okay, but the ones at the grocery store typically contain trans fats ans some contain high fructose corn syrup. Both are toxic for kids AND adults. I make a hearty banana bread for long car trips made with whole grain flour, oats, and nuts and sweeten it with agave nectar. The kids love it. Water is great, but not bottled water. Those bottles are toxic and they create a mountain of waste. Recycling is great, but buying a reusable thermos and bringing along some reusable cups for sharing is BETTER.

    Reply
  22. Never teh Bride

    Watch out for most of the granola bars you come across in the grocery store! Read the ingredients before assuming they’re healthy because in most cases they are LOADED with sugar.

    Reply
  23. Laura

    A lot kind of depends on your definition of healthy. Personally, I avoid trail mix like the plague, even if it’s a non-chocolate kind, simply because it’s typically eaten by the handful, but a typical handful is about 200 calories! I know nuts and dried fruit are good for you, but I think it’s better to use them to top a dish so that you don’t go overboard.

    I would also add fresh veggies to the list – carrots and celery don’t go bad very quickly and are a LOT healthier than hard candy. I don’t think candy of any kind should be on a list of healthy foods.

    Reply
  24. cereal

    What about whole grain gold fish crackers; they seem like a pretty good option?

    Reply
  25. Daryl

    I agree Methuselah. I was going to point out that not all granola bars are the healthiest. I figured the inclusion of boiled sweets was alright since it’s displayed last and it is healthier than other junk found at truck stops.

    Reply
  26. Methuselah

    Boiled sweets!? The fact that something is healthier than something else does not justify its being described as healthy. Chocolate is healthier than engine oil, so maybe chocolate should go on the list after all!

    The title of this post is fundamentally incorrect if you include boiled sweets on the list and, I would argue, Granola bars too, given the content of most of them.

    Reply
  27. mdw

    what is a ‘boiled’ sweet?
    u mean hard candy?

    Reply
  28. Lauren

    Granola bars are my favorite snack.
    I eat sliced apples and bananas on my drive to work. It’s a great way to start the day and it keeps me full until lunch time.

    Reply