The Best Road Trip Snacks, According to Our Editors (2024)

Science may advise against eating in the air, but on the road consumption is more than fair game. In fact, there’s no better way to break up the time on that long and often monotonous journey (Hello, the Midwest and its many cornfields!) than by eating to your heart’s content. While most rest stops proffer hot foods of various cuisines and qualities, the safest bet for consistency and familiarity amidst an ever-changing landscape is the pre-packaged snack and beverage available for purchase in the mart attached to any given gas station. Whether its crunch or cream, savory or sweet that you seek, there’s something wrapped up in plastic for you. Below, our editors round up some of their essential bites for you to stock up on before or during your next drive.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date. Additional reporting by Megan Spurrell.

Health is wealth

I am not a traditional snacker. I generally care not for potato chips, nor do I understand the appeal of pretzels. I view eating on the road, when you’re cranky and bored and your body is stationary, as a utilitarian exercise—eating to live, you could say, rather than living to eat. It is for these reasons that I prefer a hearty bag of jerky with its powerful punch of protein. I skip the flavored bags, the smoke of the original supplying more than enough flavor for me, although one variation I’ve enjoyed recently is the BBQ chicken thigh jerky a roommate’s sister brought over to my apartment recently. Wash it down with an unsweetened green tea and I’m a happy camper. If pushed to go for some junk, I’d go for the pepperoni pizza combos my mother favored on the road trips of my childhood, although one bite of such a thing now would probably kill me. —Charlie Hobbs, editorial assistant

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Combos Pepperoni Pizza cracker

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Ito En Tea Oi Ocha unsweetened green tea

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Country Archer Beef and Turkey Jerky Variety Pack

Crunch with a punch

As a kid, I unabashedly loved Cheetos Puffs. Sometime in the last few years, I discovered the grown-up version: its packaging leads you to believe that Simply White Cheddar Puffs are healthier than the original (who am I to argue?), and the white powder is less alarming on your fingers than the neon orange of yore. Most importantly, they are just as, if not more, delicious. I could go through an entire bag, depending on the length of the road trip. As a sour complement, I love Oh Snap! Pickling Co.’s spicy pickle pouches. They’re pretty easy to find in grocery stores and gas stations, and come in a fresh dill flavor if you don’t like heat.—Madison Flager, senior commerce editor

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Simply Cheetos White Cheddar Puffs

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Oh Snap Hot n' Spicy Pickle snacking cuts

Acid & heat

I want my mouth to be excoriated by the snacks I'm munching on, to lose a cluster of taste buds every mile, to be satisfied only when my mouth has essentially gone numb. My poisons of choice? Flamin' Hot Cheetos, kettle-cooked salt and vinegar chips, and a hodgepodge of sour candy—Airheads Xtreme Bites are my favorite, but Sour Patch Kids do in a pinch. I could coddle my tongue with crisp fruit or soft snack cakes, but I like to use my time on the road as a no-holds-barred extreme snack wonderland, convincing myself that I won't regret every bite in a mere hour and wishing I'd been kinder to my palate. But once I reach my destination, as the angry red Cheeto-dust stains fade from my fingers and feeling slowly returns to my mouth, I'll be counting down the days until I can do it again. (Pro tip: Ask your backseat chef to add the Cheetos to the turkey-and-cheese sandwiches they're whipping up for the car—you won't want your road lunch any other way after.) —Taylor Eisenhauer, editorial operations manager

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Cape Cod Kettle Cooked potato chips

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Nerds Gummy Cluster

Ruffles & Rollinos

The undeniable highlight of road trips is spilling out of the car at gas stations and loading up on junk food that you don’t normally eat at home. Among my family and oldest friends, it’s considered a fact that “orange chips” (aka Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream) are the very best on the planet, so those always end up getting passed around the car (Kettle Salt & Vinegar chips are a worthy back-up plan). If I’m feeling fancy, and the gas station has a cold fridge, I’ll splurge on a vacu-sealed pack of Rollinos—those tasty little prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella sticks (protein, right?). —Megan Spurrell, senior editor

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Ruffles Potato Chips Variety Pack

Salty meets sweet

Terra vegetable chips have been a go-to snack of mine for years. They’re delicious, light, and just the right amount of salty. And while a chip is by no means the healthiest option out there, these feel like a better alternative to the classic potato chip (whether true or not!). And when it comes to road trips or long-haul flights, I love nothing more than to treat myself to a sweet snack—preferably, Brookside dark chocolate-covered pomegranates. I could eat an entire family-size bag of these bite-size, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates to myself. The ever-so-slightly bitter dark chocolate coating on the sweet and gummy pomegranates is heavenly. I keep my eyes peeled for these in every airport, gas station, or other pit stop along the way. —Meaghan Kenny, associate commerce editor

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Terra vegetable chips

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Brookside dark chocolate covered pomegranates

Indian-made biscuits and TJ's crisps

The great thing about going on a road trip, plane ride, or train journey with my family is that someone always bring along a pack of Parle-G biscuits. The bad thing about it is that everyone devours them. If you’re not acquainted with the packaging on this Indian-made milk biscuit, the animated little girl on it is legendary. What’s on the inside is pretty darn great, too. When I’ve run out of supplies from my Indian grocery, I resort to my other favorite snack—cheese and crackers. In this case, a travel-friendly pack of Tillamook cheddar sticks and a box of Trader Joe’s fig & olive crisps—add some grapes and assorted nuts pried out of ziplock bags and it’s a road-trip version of a charcuterie board! —Arati Menon, global digital director

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Tillamook cheddar sticks

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Trader Joe's Fig and Olive crisps


Whether I’m road-tripping or packing snacks for the plane, I typically want crush-proof options that can withstand my overpacking. My favorite non-chip (if I’m being real there’s always a bag of Cape Cod chips in the car for road trips, too) snacks hit both sweet and salty. For sweet, Trader Joes’ Sweet and Juicy Mango are my favorite dried-fruit option, ideal for when you need a sugary pick-me-up. A more nutritious, whole-wheat treat I always find myself packing (and buying at truck stops when I spot them) for breakfast or on-the-go is Nature’s Bakery fig bars, preferably an original fig bar (but apple or raspberry will do if the OG ones are sold out). For salty, I love shelled pistachios, which are easy to snack on, healthier than the standard mixed-nuts fluff, and pack well in the bottom of a bag so you can finish them off whenever you get around to unpacking. —Shannon McMahon, destinations editor

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Wonderful Pistachios shelled nuts

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Nature’s Bakery fig bars

Sweet & tangy twists

While home, I’m not the biggest snacker. My cabinets aren’t stocked with sweet treats or savory snacks, but while on the road a bag of Honey Barbecue Fritos is never too far from my reach. There is something about the crunch of a Frito that is just so addicting when paired with the honey barbecue spices. There are a ton of barbecue chips on the market, but they just don’t compare to what Fritos has crafted. It’s the perfect blend of sweetness, tanginess, and slight heat. While I love the sweetness from the chips, it won’t ever be able to curb my sweet tooth like a Butterfinger. I understand it's a bit messy and crumbles after each bite, but every peanut butter flake I have to clean up afterward is worth it. —Paris Wilson, commerce producer

Nostalgic treats

Whether a long or short journey, the little things make all the difference when road tripping. You have to be prepared—and not ‘hangry,’ especially when traveling with a group. While that means different things to different travelers, I need options: the trifecta—sweet, salty, and some sort of chocolate. The sweet, for me, has always been Haribo Happy Cherries—a bundle of cherry shaped and flavored gummies that my grandmother got me hooked on early in my childhood. A perfect pair, the salty adjacent is either the red salsa or orange cheddar Sun Chips—depending on my mood. The bag could go on forever and I could never get sick of them. Of course, a crucial saving grace to crumbs and sticky fingers on the road is napkins or hand wipes. My chocolate pair of choice is more of a subtle delight: a jar of Pirouline’s wafer cookie sticks. Also nostalgic of my childhood, these were always in my house when I was growing up. I never buy them during my general food shopping, but there’s something about seeing them on a rest stop right before hitting the road. They’re almost like tasty good luck charms. These snacks have nothing to do with standard levels of ‘health’, yet everything to do with fulfillment—and a reminiscence of youthful searches for deliciousness. —Jessica Chapel, editorial assistant

Worldwide wonders

What makes a perfect road trip? The company, the music, and the snacks. I’m all about the flavors of the world. I don’t usually keep processed foods at home but all bets are off on a road trip. I’m partial to the umami and savory flavors. Korean Cosmos Hot Rice Tteokbokki Snacks? Sign me up. These are sweet, tangy and crunchy. For something with some heat I’m looking at Magic Masala Crisps or Trader Joe's Jerk-Style Plantain Chips, with garlic, onion, all spice, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, red pepper, and thyme, they are spicy and satisfying. Perfect with a Limonata on a hot sunny drive. For something mildly sweet my go to are these Thai Chewy Milk Fruit candy. These candies always remind me of driving along the beaches in phu*ket with friends. They are a bit of surprise—you expect them to be hard because they feel like a marble but they are in fact, little melty pillows and the taste is almost elegant in it’s lightness. Which means you can easily eat 10 and not feel sick. I’m partial to the mango flavor but the durian is a fun one to try! —Pallavi Mohan Kumar, associate visuals director

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Thai Chewy Milk fruit candy

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Trader Joe's Jerk-Style plantain chips

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Korean Cosmos Hot Rice Tteokbokki snack

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Magic Masala chips

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Haldiram’s Aloo Bhuji

Swimming with the fishes

I’ve long had a penchant for eating Goldfish on the beach—something about the saltiness makes for endlessly satisfying grazing after a dip in the Atlantic—and now they’ve also become my go-to road trip snack to reach for, usually acquired while ambling aimlessly among the aisles of some gas station in the middle of nowhere. I eat them while sitting in the passenger seat on the way to my in-laws, on sun-tired journeys back from surfing at Rockaway in New York, hungover on a Saturday morning trip upstate, along the highways of the Nevada desert, and on stormy eight-hour drives up to Maine. Although I should include an apology to my friend for the latter, after splitting open the bag and spilling hundreds of Goldfish onto the floor of his car—apparently he’s still finding them. —Lale Arikoglu, articles director

Double T

While I believe there’s nothing better than a hearty sandwich for a meal on the go (a prosciutto bocadillo or turkey-pickle-mustard on a roll, to be exact), road trip snacks are about indulging in those guilty gas station pleasures. For this, I gravitate toward the chewy and spicy, two qualities that exaggerate the act of eating into a proper activity. Loudly smacking gobs of Twizzlers is a bad car habit I picked up from my mom who, growing up, always had a bag in her purse—though, to be honest, I’m not even sure I like the taste. Their entertaining texture and bland faux-strawberry flavor is perfectly complemented by tastebud-destroying Takis, which force even spice lovers like me to slow down (meaning, sometimes, the bag will even last you the entire ride). As an honorable mention, I reliably reach for Cape Cod salt and vinegar chips or Fritos if I’m craving salt. —Heather Towey, associate news editor

Fun-to-eat treats

My road trip snack choices still reflect that which I developed in my childhood. My parents were relatively strict about eating healthy at home, but on the open road, we were allowed to indulge in whatever our hearts desired from the gas station aisles. The first item is something that I don’t think I have eaten outside the confines of a vehicle: Bugles, the cone shaped corn chips which function as both snack and entertainment, perfect for slipping on your fingers to poke at your siblings in the envied bucket seats. The other snack that lures me in with its neon colors are Trolli sour gummy worms. I used to only eat the blue and red ones, but I’m a grownup now, so my palate has thankfully expanded. If I splurge for a third choice, it’s always cheddar Chex mix, which contains an elite variety, in my opinion. —Mercedes Bleth, global associate director of social

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Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers

Liquid diet

I am a hydration girlie, first and foremost! (This is something I am manifesting for the year 2024.) At any given time, I am sipping on a minimum of three beverages; as I write this, I have a coffee, a water, and a tea at my desk, all competing to see which will be the first to reach room temperature. However, the drink missing from this tableau is Gatorade. Yellow Gatorade, specifically. I used to drink the stuff only when I was sick, but these days, I’ve found myself enjoying it with dinner, after a long night out, and in cars. I get car sick easily, and it may totally be a placebo effect, but Gatorade helps me feel better. Give me those electrolytes, honey! Yes, I’m also ingesting a high amount of sugar with it, but it—much like a road trip (in my opinion!)—is best enjoyed in small doses. —Matt Ortile, associate editor

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Gatorade Lemon-Lime Thirst Quencher

The Best Road Trip Snacks, According to Our Editors (2024)
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