How to Bring Healthy Nutrition to Road Trips

June 2, 2017

Ahhh, summertime. Those lovely few months when the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and simultaneously, everyone on Facebook is posting about their work-sponsored trip to Italy and their thousand-dollar vacation to Bermuda. Luckily, travelling somewhere by plane is not the only option available to those who love to explore. The phrase goes, “planes, trains, and automobiles” for a reason. But those of us who love that tires to the highway, hair in the wind, dog in the backseat kind of summer are faced with one dilemma when we decide to pack our bags and head out onto the open road. How does one eat healthily on a road trip?


This guide will help you and all of your trip companions to fuel-up on nutritious, road-ready foods that will help you stay healthy and alert throughout your travels. This roadmap details what you’ll learn below:

  • The best groceries to buy before hitting the highway
  • What to buy at a gas station or a rest stop
  • How to find a healthy restaurant on the road   

So, you’ve packed your car. A car with amazing gas mileage and a great depreciation rate. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about and you’re thinking, “My car is a gas guzzler and I’m about to spend a fortune,” head here to find your dream ride – affordable, gas-efficient, and road-friendly. You’ll thank us later.) You’ve gathered your Google maps route. You’re heading to the grocery store to load up on road trip snacks but have no idea what to buy. Check out some of these snacks and treats for an energy boost that will power you straight across Route 66.

The Best Grocery Store Items Before Hitting the Highway

  • String cheese or other individually wrapped cheeses
  • Nuts and seeds (Trail mix anyone?)
  • Minimally processed granola bars and energy bars
  • Smoothie drinks
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Clementines
  • Apples
  • Dried Fruit
  • Lots of water!
  • Low sugar juice boxes
  • Fig Newtons

These foods will release energy slowly to give you a ride that is smooth and energized. To check out other nutritious foods for your trip, be sure to visit Shape Magazine for a great list of food options for trips of varying lengths.


Gas stations and rest stops are great if you’re looking for candy and soda, but what if you’re trying to avoid a sugar crash? At rest stops, look for vending machines full of Gatorade or Powerade. These electrolyte-boosting drinks will keep you chipper even through a mid-afternoon slump. No need for a nap when you’re well-hydrated and full of nutrients! If you’re someone who prefers to stop at rest areas over gas stations where possible, download the USA Rest Stop Locater app, which is free and available on both Android and iPhone.

Gas stations are a whole different animal… Packed with jerky and slushies, candy and ice cream, it can be difficult to dig through the processed food and get to the good stuff. While navigating those shallow gas station aisles, keep your eyes peeled for fruit near the checkout stand. Gas stations typically keep their produce ready near the front, and if you ask the cashier, they might even discount that bruised banana for you! Further back, look at the coolers. Not the beer or the soda, but the pre-made sandwiches and string cheese. Here you’ll find yogurt, juices, fruit, and hardboiled eggs. These are all healthy options to choose for the next leg of your trip.

How to Find a Healthy Restaurant on the Road

After a long commute or road trip, it’s easy to stop and eat at the nearest fast food you see glimmering on the horizon. But you know that if you choose McDonalds, you’re bound to feel below the weather tomorrow and if you need to continue driving, that’s not how you want to feel. If all you see are chain restaurants, stick to Panera Bread or Subway. If you can’t find anything other than Wendy’s, grab a salad. Or, if you’ve got a little more time to spare and want to sit down for a meal, use the Yelp app to scout for local eateries near your current location. Yelp is a great way to discover local food that will provide a substantial dose of daily greens and fiber. If you want to get even more specific, check out Healthy Dining Finder, where you can search your current location to find restaurants that cater to your specific dietary needs.

Road tripping doesn’t have to be a grease-drenched, salt-saturated free-for-all. Arrive at your destination feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on whatever adventure comes your way. You never know, you might even post some pictures to Facebook that look more enticing than that Italy trip (Take that, Susan).

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