Best Road Trip Snacks Non Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

Best Road Trip Snacks: Non-Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

Best Road Trip Snacks: Non-Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

Best Road Trip Snacks: Non-Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

It can be helpful for athletes preparing for a road trip to know the best non-refrigerated snacks to pack for the car. Let’s take a look at considerations athletes should make when planning snacks for travel. We will then explore the best non-refrigerated snacks that athletes can pack for their next road trip.

Planning Road Trip Snacks

When considering what snacks to pack for your road trip, it is important to keep both your sports nutrition needs and food safety in mind.

Planning Road Trip Snacks Non Refrigerated

Road Trip Snacks: Sports Nutrition

When it comes to sports nutrition, choosing snacks that provide a good source of carbohydrates prior to a practice or competition is key. Athletes can get carbohydrates in their diet from a variety of food groups, including: grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, and dairy (milk and yogurt).

Following a workout, athletes should choose a snack with carbohydrates to refill energy stores, as well as protein to build and repair lean muscle mass.  Rehydrating with fluid and electrolytes is also important post-workout to help replace sweat losses.

Sports Nutrition Tips for Road Trip Snacks

Road Trip Snacks: Mini-Meals

When planning for snacks outside of pre- and post-workout, I encourage athletes to view snacks as “mini-meals.”  Well-planned snacks can be an important way to help athletes meet their overall sports nutrition needs.

Athletes can build “mini-meals” by consuming snacks that contain a lean source of protein along with food from at least one other food group. 

“Mini-Meal” snack ideas include:

  • Nut butter with mini bagel
  • Jerky with pita chips
  • Almonds with apple
  • Trail mix containing dried fruit, nuts, seeds, pretzels and cereal

Road Trip Snacks: Food Safety

When it comes to food safety, holding food at the correct temperature is important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F, as the “Danger Zone” in which bacteria can rapidly grow.  

Perishable foods should not be left in the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours.  This time frame decreases to 1 hour if the temperature exceeds 90 °F, such as in a hot, parked car.  Consuming food that has been left in the temperature danger zone over the recommended time limits increases one’s risk of getting a foodborne illness.

Temperature Danger Zone

Food Safety: Foods to Hold Cold

Perishable food items that need to be held cold (below 40°F) include:

  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Meat, poultry, seafood, deli meat, hard-boiled eggs
  • Mayonnaise or products containing mayonnaise (tuna, chicken, or egg salad)
  • Produce that has been cut or sliced (i.e., sliced melon)
  • Cooked leftover food items (including leftover food from restaurants)

If food is left out over the two-hour limit, throw it away, as you do not want to risk getting a foodborne illness.

Best Road Trip Snacks: Non-Refrigerated Ideas for Athletes

If you do not have the means to store food cold on a road trip, it is important to plan for snacks that do not require refrigeration. Let’s take a look at a variety of non-refrigerated road trip snacks that athletes can pack for their next trip.

Non Refrigerated Road Trip Snacks

Fresh and Dried Fruit

Whole, fresh fruit is a great non-refrigerated snack option to bring on a road trip. Fruit contains carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals making it a nutritious choice for athletes.

When planning for your trip, purchase a variety of fresh fruit to take with you in the car, including: apples, oranges, pears, bananas, plums, and peaches. As a food safety reminder, once fruits or vegetables are sliced, cut, or peeled, the produce should be held cold.

Dried Fruit

In addition to fresh fruit, dried fruit is a great non-refrigerated road trip snack option.  Dried fruit is a great source of carbohydrates and also provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Prior to your road trip, pack a variety of dried fruits to enjoy. Consider trying the following dried fruit options:

  • Raisins
  • Cranberries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Cherries and Berries
  • Apple Slices

Jerky: Easy Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snack

Beef or turkey jerky is an easy, non-refrigerated road trip snack that is a good source of protein.  On average, 1-oz of beef or turkey jerky contains 9-12 grams of protein depending on the brand.  Jerky has the added benefit of being mess-free, making it a great snack for the car!


Nuts are a healthy, non-refrigerated snack that athletes can take on a road trip.  They are a nutrient-dense snack, containing protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a great choice for athletes.

Choose a variety of nuts to enjoy in the car, such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, and Brazil nuts. Consider making your own mixed nut blend before the trip and packing it into individual snack size bags to take with you in the car.

Nuts Nutrient Dense Snack

Nut Butter

Nut butters are also a good option for a road trip, as they can be used to make a quick meal or snack on the go.  They contain healthy fats and protein, with a 2-tablespoon serving of nut butter providing approximately 7 grams of protein (depending on brand).  When selecting a nut butter, choose a product with limited added ingredients.

For added convenience on a road trip, consider purchasing nut butter in individual serving size containers or squeeze pouches. Justin’s® has a variety of nut butters available in 1.15 oz squeeze packs that are perfect for travel.

Athletes with nut allergies can consider trying SunButter® products, which are made with sunflower seeds and are nut allergen free.  Sunbutter® also makes individual 1.1 oz packs that are perfect for road trips.

Nut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

A nut butter and jelly sandwich is a great, non-refrigerated option for a road trip. It can be enjoyed as part of a meal, to help meet your recovery nutrition needs, or just as an easy snack when you get hungry in the car.

You can make your sandwich prior to the trip or pack bread, packets of nut butter, and packets of jelly to prepare on the road. My personal favorite is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made on honey wheat bread.

Nut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Bagels: High-Carbohydrate, Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snack

Bagels are an easy high-carbohydrate, non-refrigerated snack option athletes can pack to take on a road trip. Enjoying a bagel with your pre-game snack can help provide your body with energy for the upcoming activity.

Following a competition, top your bagel with nut butter as a snack to enjoy before your next meal. I find mini-bagels are also a convenient option to pack for the car, as they are the perfect size for a small snack on the road.

Dry Breakfast Cereal

When considering non-refrigerated snack options for the road trip, don’t forget about dry breakfast cereal. Dry breakfast cereal is an easy, high-carbohydrate snack option that is perfect for the car. When choosing a breakfast cereal, select one made with whole grains for a higher fiber snack option.

Prior to the road trip, pack individual serving size bags of breakfast cereal so you can easily enjoy this snack in the car.  Quaker® Oatmeal Squares, Kashi® Whole Wheat Biscuits, and Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini Wheats are all great breakfast cereal options to enjoy dry as a snack in the car.

Pretzels, Pita Chips, and Snack Crackers

Snack items such as pretzels, pita chips, and snack crackers are great carbohydrate-based snacks for athletes to enjoy in the car. In addition to carbohydrates, the snacks contain sodium. Consuming salty snacks can help athletes with replacing sodium sweat losses. Sodium also stimulates thirst, thus encouraging athletes to drink fluid and meet their hydration goals.

In addition to pretzels and pita chips, animal crackers and graham crackers are also good carbohydrate-based snack options for your road trip. Try enjoying your graham crackers topped with peanut butter for a tasty treat in the car.

Granola Bars, Breakfast Bars, and Fig Bars

Packing your favorite bars to take with you on a road trip is an easy, non-refrigerated snack option. Choose carbohydrate-rich bars that are made with whole grains and contain limited added ingredients.  Some great options include Nature’s Bakery® Fig Bars, Kate’s® Real Food Bars, and KIND® Healthy Grains® Bars, Breakfast Bars, and Simple Crunch bars. As a reminder, when selecting a bar for your road trip, bars containing chocolate may melt and make a mess in a hot car.

Trail Mix: Simple Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snack

Another simple, non-refrigerated snack option for a road trip is trail mix made with a variety of nuts and dried fruits. pretzels, and snack crackers. You can purchase trail mix at the store or make your own by combining your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruit, pretzels, and dry breakfast cereal.

Athletes with nut allergies can prepare their own trail mix for the road trip using a variety of seeds in place of nuts. If you are looking for a pre-made trail mix, try the seed and dried fruit mixes from Enjoy Life®.  Enjoy Life® offer several mixes containing a variety of seeds and dried fruits, which are nut, soy, and gluten free.

Make Your Own Trail Mix

Ready to Pack Your Non-Refrigerated Road Trip Snacks!

You are now set with a variety of ideas for non-refrigerated snacks to pack for your next road trip. Remember to take time to plan ahead so you have the right snacks available to support your sports nutrition needs.

For additional sports nutrition travel tips, check out my blog: 7 Best Gas Station Drinks for Athletes.

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About the Author

Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.

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