Healthy summer travel snacks

Different summer activities require their own types of snacks

By Edwena Kennedy

The summer is a time for sun, fun, and lots of family time. Kids are out of the school routine, and for many of us parents, we find ourselves also out of the kitchen routine and more and more in the great outdoors. While family outings and summer events are a must, parents often find themselves at a loss for how to tame the need for snacks while out and about. 

The dilemma usually lies in either purchasing snacks on the go (which usually end up being unhealthy and expensive) or packing snacks from home (which can become repetitive and not well-suited for your specific outing).

As a registered pediatric dietitian, I always recommend going the route of packing snacks whenever possible, albeit arming yourself with a few of my top tips and tricks to keep snacks both healthy and appropriate to match the needs of your outing.

Road Trips
Think no mess and minimal garbage. Nothing is worse than having crumbs all over the backseat of your car and package wrappers everywhere you turn. You’ll want to avoid sauces and runny dips that can be easily spilled. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks that meet these criteria.

• Homemade fruit leather
• Dried fruit like raisins, mangos, or low-sugar cranberries
• String cheese and whole grain crackers
• Boiled eggs (already peeled)
• Edamame beans (shelled)
• Dehydrated apple chips. These are less messy than potato chips and healthier too.
• Fruit, pre-portioned grapes, apple slices, or peeled oranges. Stay away from bananas and oranges, which have peels that need to be disposed of.

Airplane Travel
On an airplane, the last thing you want is your child becoming grumpy or bored with the food options available. This is where I recommend finding an ice cube tray with a lid or a bento box you can fill with a variety of different snacks to keep your child interested in the array offered. It will also keep you from continually reaching into your bags to pick out a new snack item. You will want to avoid liquids like pudding or yogurts (which need to be declared separately at security). Consider filling the ice cube tray or bento box with snacks such as:

• Raw carrots, peppers, cucumbers, or other vegetables
• Plain pasta, like penne or rigatoni (easy to pick up with hands)
• Berries, such as strawberries or blueberries
• Nitrate-free deli meat
• Cheese slices
• Whole grain crackers
• Cereal
• Popcorn
• Kale chips

When sitting in the heat of the sun, you’ll want to think of snacks that are light and fresh. Pack a cooler and frozen water bottles and consider items that won’t melt easily and are okay if they get slightly wet. Examples include:

• Fresh whole fruit, like apples, watermelon, or cherries
• Vegetables and hummus or tzatziki dip
• Apple slices and peanut butter (bring a plastic knife for spreading)
• Bean or chickpea salads (holds up all day, even with dressing on it)
• Individual yogurts
• Frozen grapes
• Fruit and vegetable pouches
• Corn on the cob
• Olives

Take food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and requires little to no cooking for quick and easy access. Suggestions include:

• Canned tuna and crackers
• Nachos and salsa
• Roasted chickpeas
• Individual oatmeal packages (add boiling water from campfire)
• Energy Bites
• Cereal Bars
• Baked apples (core apples, fill with brown sugar, wrap in foil, and bake over campfire for 15 to 20 minutes)

When hiking long distances, you want to think of bringing calorie-dense snacks to keep energy levels up and hunger at bay. Keeping in mind you may not have much space in backpacks for food, here are some great suggestions:

• Nuts, like almonds, cashews, peanuts, or walnuts
• Homemade trail mix
• Cheese portions and crackers
• Coconut chips
• Avocado mash and breadsticks
• Homemade energy bar
• Pumpkin seeds
• Mini PB&J sandwiches
• Real food snack bars, such as Lara bars, KIND bars, or Made with Local Real Food bars
• Homemade turkey or beef jerky
• Banana bread or muffins

As you can see, there are many healthy snack options that work well in achieving variety and practicality for each situation. And like with a lot of things, a little planning goes a long way. But I’ll leave that topic for another day.  


Almond chocolate cranberry chia bites

Recipe adapted from: Christy Wilson, RD
Serving: 1 bite
Recipe makes: 35, one-inch sized bites
Total Time: 20 minutes

• 1.5 cup rolled oats
• ½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds
• ¼ cup 72% cocoa dark chocolate, roughly chopped into small pieces
• ½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
• 1/3 cup honey
• 2/3 cup almond butter

1. In a large mixing bowl, add first six ingredients. Stir together until combined.
2. Add honey and almond butter and mix together until combined.
3. Place mixture in refrigerator for about 10 minutes to allow it to harden.
4. Shape mixture into one-inch rounded balls and place on a platter or cookie sheet.
5. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to five days. You can also freeze and take out as needed.