One hand on the wheel, one hand reaching for a snack

One hand on the wheel, one hand reaching for a snack

A time honored tradition that dates back to at least 4000 B.C., when stone paved streets connected the Mesopotamian (now Iraq) cities of Ur and Babylon. Traveling was a bit different then, but rest assured, no one was trekking to Ur without snacks. Then as now, people didn’t want to slow their progress with elaborate meals while trying to make good time. Munching on beans, olives, pomegranates, grapes, vegetables, and pistachio nuts, the Mesopotamian people understood that perfect road trip foods need to be eaten with one hand and without much thought. This still holds true, as you need one hand on the wheel and need to be able to blindly reach for the food and get it to your mouth without obstructing your vision.

Should the food be healthy and nutritious? Probably. Should it be crunchy and delicious? No question. Life is about balance, so why not bring a little of both?

Here, then, are the best snacks for your next road trip.



1. Peanut Butter Sandwich

The classic peanut butter sandwich is tough to beat. There’s a reason your parents packed it in your lunch. It’s simple, filling, and packed with protein, vitamins, and good fat. Make sure you get real peanut butter (you know, the stuff made with just peanuts and maybe salt) and whole grain bread. For an upgrade, add a drizzle of honey.


2. Dried Fruits

Dried apricots, mango, dates, cherries, or whatever other dehydrated plant flesh brings you joy are the perfect driving snack. All of the benefits of fruit without the bother of washing, cutting, or juice dripping. Don’t forget to check the ingredients and get something that is just dried fruit. For some reason food companies like to lace these with added sugar and sulfur. They are already sweet. Save the sugar for the junk food (see below).


3. Fresh Fruit

Not all fresh fruits are ideal for travel. I’ve tried spooning watermelon into my mouth while driving. It didn’t end well. Some, however, are easily eaten and manipulated with one hand. Apples, grapes, and bananas work great. Pears can work too, but honestly, who eats them? They end up looking like they got mugged in the back of your refrigerator. They deserve a vacation. Take the pear with you.


4. Fresh Vegetables

Carrots, celery, snow peas, and lunch box peppers are winners. If you do a little pre-planning, you can cut them up into bite-sized pieces. Annoy your traveling mates with your loud crunching while getting healthier. Plus, you can dip them in…


5. Nut Butters

Open a jar, put it in your cup holder, and start dipping any and all of the above in cashew, almond, or peanut butter. Sweet peppers in peanut butter? Yes. Try it. Alternatively, you can skip the butter form and just grab your favorite nuts, raw or roasted, and pop them in your mouth a handful at a time.

The Not-Healthy-But-Don’t-Judge-Me-I’m-On-An-Adventure


1. Sandwich Cookies

Nutter Butters, Oreos, E.L. Fudge, even those strangely saccharine lemon cookies all make great traveling partners. Shove them in your mouth whole to avoid your lap turning into a squirrel feeder. Just don’t get those peanut butter and cheese abominations. They manage to make three wonderful things (cheese, crackers, and peanut butter) unpalatable.


2. Crackers

Don’t waste your time or money on saltines. If you like them, just put flour and salt in a cup and enjoy. For the rest of us civilized people, the food gods have given us the holy trinity of Wheat Thins, Triscuits, and Cheeze-Its. Culinary achievements they are not. Salty, crunchy, addictive substances, they are and so much more. Eat them as is, dip them in peanut butter or humus, or slap some cheese between them.


3. Beef Jerky

Dried, marinated, over-salted meat. What more do you want? Spend the extra few bucks and get the good kind. Otherwise, you’ll have a sore and tired jaw, and then how will you eat your cookies?


4. Chips

What is better than chips? So much crunch. So many options. So much goodness to suck off your fingers when you’re done. We’re partial to salt and vinegar chips, the old classic chili-dog in a tortilla strip known as Chili-Cheese Fritos, or our new addiction, Kettle dill-pickle chips. Resist the temptation and avoid the Cheetos. Your car will end up as unnaturally orange as your fingers. Save these for the rest-stop so you can wash up (after you’ve disgustingly licked as much as possible off your hands and used your teeth to scrape out more of the orange cocaine powder from beneath your fingernails).


5. Granola bars and trail mix

What’s that you say? “These should be with the healthy foods!” Stop lying to yourself. Granola bars are just glorified candy bars, and trail mix is just a granola bar without the food glue. “Well then why not just have candy bars listed?” you retort. Because the chocolate melts, thus disqualify them. Now that you’ve come to terms with that, lean back, put your sunglasses on, turn the radio up, and tear into your favorite “protein”, “fruit and nut”, “power”, or whatever-other-nonsense-they’ve-told-you bar and enjoy the journey. The Mesopotamians didn’t count calories when traveling. You shouldn’t have to either.