Planning a road trip to visit your loved ones for the holidays? Before you hit the highway, don’t forget to pack some snacks to keep you and the kids fueled for the entire ride. Instead of filling your belly with whatever you can find on a gas station pit stop, prep one or more of our favorite travel snacks—guaranteed not to damage your car seat cushions or wreck your diet.
Photo: Getty/Westend61
| Credit: Getty/Westend61

As much fun as the holidays are, from decorating and baking to shopping for gifts and enjoying the company of friends and family, they can also bring added stress and added pounds. And I don’t know about you, but I already have a long list of things to do during the hustle and bustle of the season, so throwing in the necessary task of packing clothes, other necessities, and food for a holiday trip to see the fam doesn’t exactly excite me.

I plan to do a lot of road-tripping to visit family and friends scattered in various parts of the Southeastern region, and to save time, money, and calories, in-car snacking is an absolute must, even if it is a slight pain to add prepping food to my mile long to-do list. What’s the alternative? Gas stations or rest areas—where my only viable options are basically beef jerky and cheese, candy, soda, and salty chips? No thanks. Personally, I could do without a carb crash on a 6-hour drive to Florida. And I’m sure the last thing you need, too, is a backseat full of kids hopped up on processed sugar, right? Besides, healthy snacking in the car allows you to really indulge later on your favorite holiday treats, once you arrive to your final destination. For me, that’s my mom’s house, where a lovely pecan pie and chocolate cookie delight await me every year for Christmas. Whatever holiday indulgence you’re anticipating, you’ll be happy for on-the-go eats to keep you satisfied, so you don’t succumb to temptation at fast food restaurants and convenience stores along the way.

While you gear up for the seemingly never-ending ride in a packed car (Trust me, I feel your frustration every time you have to hear, “Mommy, are we there yet?” at every mile marker), this holiday season, take charge and help your family eat smart by packing any or all 10 of these make-ahead, road-trip snacks that both kids and adults can enjoy:

Made of all the things the kiddos love: nuts, M&M's, pretzels, cheddar Goldfish crackers, cereal, and dried fruit round out this sweet and savory snack.

Pack these cranberry-filled bars in an airtight container to grab when your next snack craving attack hits. They’re easy to eat on the go, and most importantly, they don’t leave a mess.

We love these chips because they’re so easy to whip up and contain less sodium and fat than the bagged stuff. So it's a double-win as far as nutritious snacking goes.

Make a quick batch of these no-bake granola bars over the weekend, and you’ll have a chewy snack to enjoy for the entire trip.

These crunchy kale chips bake so quickly, you can pop them in the oven while you pack the rest of your things. Not to mention, they’re also much healthier than processed potato chips.

A sweet-salty snack mix that’s so crunchy and addictive, you won’t want to leave home without it. The best part? You can mix up whatever sweet and savory ingredients the kids love, from raisins and nuts to dark chocolate M&M'S and popcorn.

Forget those stale, cardboard-like cheese crackers from the grocery store and make your own version of Cheez-Its instead. Bonus: You won’t have to endure backseat arguments over who’s hogging the store-bought box of crackers; every passenger can have their own snack-size bag.

An easy and delicious solution to keep kids satisfied with the 2 things they love most: chocolate and pretzels.

What do you get when you mix popcorn with nuts and raisins? Yummy snack bars that bake in no time and are backpack-friendly.

Crunchy and salty like your favorite chip, yet totally guilt-free, these chickpeas covered in Parmesan cheesy goodness check all the snacking requirements.

Oh, and we’ve got you covered on portable appetizers you can roll out for the holiday season, too. They’ll make it to your next holiday party in the same condition as they were when you left home.

By Michelle Darrisaw and Michelle Darrisaw