Seasoned travelers know that purposeful packing extends down to your edible extras. “There’s nothing wrong with planning for a bit of indulgence, but you want to prioritize bringing along snacks that will fuel you and help you feel your best,” says registered dietician Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, and owner of Planet Based with Amy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Taking her advice to heart, we focused our best travel snack recommendations on key features like the number of grams of protein, added sugars, and fiber to help control blood sugar levels and sustain energy; how easy the snack is to pack; and the perishability. In our perishability ratings, snacks that can stay fresh for months without any refrigeration are labeled “low,” those that will need to be refrigerated after opening to stay fresh are labeled “medium,” and snacks that will need to be temperature controlled at all times are labeled “high.”
RXBar Protein Bars Variety Pack grabbed our best overall spot since they pack a protein punch, have a wide selection of flavors (particularly when it comes to satisfying chocolate enthusiasts), and are made with just a few simple ingredients. These snacks are also rough and tough and can easily fit into everything from your carry-on to your pocket. Whether you’re looking for a low-calorie, travel-friendly snack to satisfy your sweet tooth, one that falls in line with a specific dietary restriction, or just something to keep your energy levels up, we’ve got you covered.
RXBar Protein Bar Variety Pack 6 Flavors
Why We Love It: They pack a punch of protein and travel well.
What to Consider: Some flavors are bigger winners than others.
RXBars are an easy and palatable way to quickly sneak in heaps of filling protein — without a ton of filler. Most bars give you around 5 grams of fiber, 12 grams of protein, and only 220 calories or less. You’ll find exactly all the ingredients listed on the front of the package, no added sugars or flavorings. These chewy bars get their protein from egg whites, their sweetness from dates, and their staying power from hearty nut fats. RXBars also rely on simple, straightforward ingredients like cocoa and real fruit for their flavors.
RXBars are shelf-stable for 10 months after the manufacturer dates listed on each package, and they’re compact enough to toss into your suitcase, hip pouch, purse, backpack, or pocket. If you’re new to RXBar or just like variety, we recommend going with one of their variety packs, like this six-flavor collection from Amazon that covers some of their most popular offerings like vanilla almond, blueberry, and a selection of chocolate-based fan faves. However, you can also find chocolate-only variety packs and nine-flavor packs with more niche flavors like apple cinnamon, coffee chocolate, and maple sea salt.
Gorin also highly recommends their plant-based versions, which pack 10 grams of plant protein (made from gluten-free oat and nuts) and 4 grams of fiber into just 210-calorie bars.
Price at time of publish: $28 for pack of 12
Special diet: Dairy-free, vegetarian, gluten-free, some vegan flavors | Perishability: Low
Rhythm Superfoods Kool Ranch Kale Chips
Why We Love It: The ingredients are all things we’d find in our own kitchen.
What to Consider: Kale chips can easily get crushed in luggage and bags.
Rhythm Superfoods Kool Ranch Kale Chips are slowly dried to retain the kale’s natural vitamins and then seasoned with easily recognizable ingredients like garlic powder, white pepper, onion dill weed, and apple cider vinegar (for that ranch tang!). The fact that they are suitable for several different types of dietary restrictions means they’re also an inclusive bet to bring on group trips (that is, unless you don’t want to share). The 2-ounce bags equal two servings but still only have 260 calories and zero cholesterol (take that, Doritos!). You’ll also snag just 6 grams of carbs and 2 grams of sugar along with a surprising 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving. Just be careful when you pack them — these “dried-not-fried” chips are brittle and can easily get crushed.
Price at time of publish: $18 for pack of 4
Special diet: Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free | Perishability: Low
Harvest Snaps Mixed Multipack
Why We Love It: These delicious snacks go over well with all ages.
What to Consider: Easy crushability makes them less convenient to pack.
Gorin says Harvest Snaps are the travel snack that is always in her carry-on. She recommends the Harvest Snaps Mixed Multipack for its individually-packaged servings of “fun flavors” such as Lightly Salted, Tomato Basil, and Crunchy Loops Sour Cream & Onion. She points out that the first ingredient is veggies. “In the Lightly Salted, for example, the first ingredient is green peas. In the snack pack, you get a good amount of protein and fiber, which will keep you fuller for longer,” she says. We love that these are not only gluten-free and vegetarian but also a healthy crowd pleaser for all ages. We just wish we didn’t have to worry about them getting crushed in our bags before we dig in.
Price at time of publish: $30 for pack of 30
Special diet: Vegetarian, gluten-free | Perishability: Low
Best Dried Fruit
Rind Snacks Chewy Dried Fruit 3-ounce
Why We Love It: These dried fruits come skin included.
What to Consider: They’re expensive considering they are technically just fruit.
Rind Snacks didn’t reinvent the dried fruit, but they’ve reintroduced it in a nutritious and delicious way. Scan the label and you’ll just find fruit, nothing else. Like most dried fruit, these snacks have a high carb and sugar count, but rest assured there is no added sugars — it’s all nature’s candy, here. Thanks to the inclusion of the fruits’ cores, rinds, seeds, and skins, there’s a good amount of fiber in each pouch, too. Leaving the skins on also adds an unexpected extra dose of flavor and varies up the texture, which sets them apart from other dried fruit snacks on the market. We also love the variety of fruits, some of which aren’t usually your first go-to when choosing a dried fruit, like kiwi or persimmon. The only downside is that it’s hard not to finish them in one sitting — which can become a pricey habit.
Price at time of publish: $45 for pack of 6
Special diet: Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo | Perishability: Low
Best for Long Flights
Backpacker’s Pantry Chicken Larb
Why We Love It: It’s a classic (and delicious) Laotian dish made available on-the-go.
What to Consider: You’ll need a fork or spoon to eat this.
Dehydrated meals are perfect when only a substantial snack will do the trick — or the in-flight meal just isn’t cutting it. They’re lightweight and easy to pack, making them perfect for hiking, road trips, and long plane rides. All you need is some hot water and a fork or spoon and — voila! — you’ve got a hot snack. This Backpacker’s Pantry Chicken Larb is a take on the national dish of Laos and gives tired tastebuds a much-appreciated zap of tang and slight spice. It’s a welcome departure from the usual dehydrated meals menu. Bonus, we love that it’s spreading the national dish of Laos to travelers who may otherwise never have the chance to try larb. Just remember to pack a fork or spoon in your bag along with this snack packet.
Price at time of publish: $13
Special Diet: Gluten-free, dairy-free | Perishability: 10-year shelf life
Best Hot Snack
BulbHead Yummy Can Potatoes
Why We Love It: You can use it at home, too!
What to Consider: Baked potatoes can get messy.
A bundled-up baked potato may not be your first choice for bringing with you on a trip, but Gorin swears by this “fantastic snack.” She says that a medium baked potato has 4 grams of plant-based protein and is a good source of fiber, both of which will keep you satiated. With the Yummy Can Potatoes, you can make a no-fuss, perfect baked potato in minutes right before you head out the door. “Wrap it in aluminum and bring it with you,” she says. “Plus, it takes awhile to eat, making it a fun snack to enjoy while watching an in-flight movie.” Don’t forget to pack a fork — and napkins.
Price at time of publish: $25
Special diet: Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo | Perishability: High
Best for Digestion
Sunsweet Ones California Prunes
Why We Love It: These individually wrapped prunes easily fit into your bag or pocket.
What to Consider: Eating too many prunes may cause diarrhea.
It’s no secret traveling can make some of us a bit irregular between the high altitudes, travel anxiety, and new surroundings. This is why we recommend bringing a little wing snack with you on our trips, and dietician Gorin agrees. “I never travel without prunes,” she says. These individually packaged prunes are a good way to casually snack and keep your body moving. Throw a couple in your travel bag to snack on or even just add them as fruit in your breakfast. These prunes are pitted (so you don’t have to worry about broken teeth) and contain 3 grams of fiber per serving. Studies show eating around three to five prunes a day will help keep you regular thanks to the high fiber nature of this fruit. Gorin adds that daily prunes can also help prevent bone loss, too. Just start slow and don’t eat more than five a day; too many prunes can cause too much movement (and nobody wants to deal with that while traveling).
Price at time of publish: $26 for three-pack
Special diet: Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free | Perishability: Low
Best Protein Treat
SkinnyDipped Snack Attack Minis Variety Pack
Why We Love It: They truly taste like an indulgent treat.
What to Consider: The chocolate may melt in warmer weather and environments.
SkinnyDipped Almonds quickly became one of our travel snack staples. In each tasty pack, you’ll get 2 grams of protein, good nut fat to keep you full, and a completely crave-able flavor (the deep cocoa taste of the dark chocolate is our favorite). This variety pack comes with 25 perfectly portioned 60-calorie mini packs — eight Dark Chocolate Cocoa, five Super Dark + Sea Salt, and six each of Lemon Bliss (a yogurt-covered version) and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. These delicious nuggets are free from preservatives, so they’ll only last around three months even unopened. Hot tip: They can also melt into a gooey mess at higher temperatures, so consider how (road trip?) and where (to the desert?) you’re traveling before packing this snack.
Price at time of publish: $28 for 25 mini-packs
Special Diet: Gluten-free | Perishability: Medium
Best for Your Sweet Tooth
Unreal Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
Why We Love It: Your sweet tooth will barely even notice the swap.
What to Consider: The bump in ingredient quality translates to a higher price.
Minimizing added sugar in your snacks is one way to keep your travel snacks on a more healthful track. Gorin says this doesn’t mean you need to deprive your sweet tooth completely, but she does recommend opting for snacks that use “real” sugar such as honey, maple syrup, and cane sugar. UnReal’s Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups are a wise swap for classic peanut butter cups since they contain less sugar, offer a little bit of protein and fiber, and contain healthy fats. This also helps you stay fuller longer. Plus, they’re a safe choice for anyone with a peanut allergy. However, all these extra points add up, so expect to spend a bit more on these clean peanut butter cups than the usual.
Price at time of publish: $15
Special diet: Vegan, gluten-free | Perishability: Low
Best for People With Diabetes
Justin’s Classic Almond Butter Squeeze Pack
Why We Love It: The small, individual packages pack and travel well.
What to Consider: These are most effective when paired with a high-protein food.
Keeping blood sugar levels under control is key for a person traveling with diabetes. Gorin notes that slowing the digestion of the carbs eaten will help to prevent a spike in blood sugar levels. “That can either look like choosing a food that contains fiber, protein, and/or fats (in addition to carbs),” she says, “or it can mean pairing a carb-rich food with a food that features those nutrients.” Justin’s Classic Almond Butter Squeeze Packs are an ideal good-fat snack without too much sugar that you can squeeze into your mouth directly from the single-serve package or onto something like protein-rich Greek yogurt. Don’t have diabetes? Carrying a few packs of this nut butter in your suitcase, carry-on bag, or pocket is still a great way to help keep you satiated and energetic between travel day meals.
Price at time of publish: $17 for pack of 10
Special diet: Gluten-free, vegan | Perishability: Low
Love Corn Fab Four Variety Pack
Why We Love It: They’ve got a satisfying crunch and pop of flavor.
What to Consider: The snack packs are a little small.
Gluten-free folks who grew up in the Corn Nuts era will definitely appreciate the satisfying crunch and flavor choices in the Love Corn Fab Four Variety Pack. Each pack comes with five bags each of Sea Salt, BBQ, Habanero, and Salt and Vinegar. These perfectly crunchy corn puffs aren’t packed full of protein or fiber like most of the picks on this list, but they are made with non-gmo ingredients and have way less sodium than the O.G. corn snacks. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with snacking for snack’s sake — it’s one of the perks of travel. We just wish these Love Corn snack packs were a little bit bigger (thank goodness there’s 20 of them.)
Price at time of publish: $25 for 20 packs
Special diet: Gluten-free (certified), vegan | Perishability: Low
Epic Provisions Keto-friendly Bar Variety Pack
Why We Love It: It’s a solid hit of pure animal protein.
What to Consider: This variety pack has two spicy flavors.
Beef jerky ain’t got nothing on these Epic Provisions protein bars. If you’ve never had an Epic bar before, get started with this keto-friendly pack that lets you taste chicken, beef, and venison varieties. You’ll get 10 to 13 grams of animal protein in each bar, single-digit carbs, and a good amount of fat to fill you up and keep you full. Ingredients are simple: just non-GMO meats and spices. Less salt means less bloating, and simple ingredients means cleaner snacking. The individually wrapped bars hold up in most packing situations and without refrigeration, making them an ideal snack for car trips, hikes, camping, or even day tours. Fair warning, though, this particular variety pack is full of half Beef Jalapeno and Chicken Sriracha, so if you’re not into spice, you may want to check out another variety.
Price at time of publish: $39 for pack of 12
Special diet: Gluten-free, paleo, keto | Perishability: Low
Best Subscription Snack Box
Bokksu Snack Box
Why We Love It: It gives travel vibes, even if you’re not going anywhere.
What to Consider: People with dietary restrictions or allergies may have limited things they can eat in the boxes.
Bokksu boxes are filled with curated and themed Japanese snacks, teas, and candies that are hard (or impossible) to find outside of Japan. The boxes are shipped from Japan, giving you a little dose of travel vibes, even if you don’t have a trip in the works. Choose your subscription length: either three, six, or 12 months — you’ll get a new box each month, but subscription fees are billed quarterly. Gorin is on board with Bokksu boxes, too, noting that the box contains up to 25 portion-controlled snacks that are perfect for tossing in your bag for a trip. While not knowing exactly what is coming in your next box is part of the fun, there’s a drop in value for people living with dietary restrictions or allergies (though the company does send an allergen list with each box).
Price at time of publish: $40-$50 per month, billed quarterly
Special diet: Varies | Perishability: Low
Best Snack Pack
Duke’s Shortys Smoked Sausages and Cheese Crisps
Why We Love It: These meat-and-cheese packs give grown-up, shelf-stable Lunchable vibes.
What to Consider: There are no options for vegetarians or vegans.
These conveniently packaged snack packs feature plump smoked pork sausages and 100 percent real cheese crisps. One pack provides travelers a filling serving of satiating double-digit grams of protein and fat, all with less than 1 gram of carbs. We like to think of them as better-tasting and travel-friendly Lunchables for grown-up palates. These snack packs come in either original sausage flavor with cheddar cheese crisps or, for those who like a little kick, Hatch chile flavored sausages with asiago crisps. Both packs are gluten-free, but they are not dairy-free or suitable for vegans and vegetarians. You’ll need to refrigerate any uneaten sausages after opening.
Price at time of publish: $51 for pack of 12
Special diet: Gluten-free | Perishability: Low
Best Veggie Chips
Sensible Portions Veggie Straws Screamin’ Hot
Why We Love It: They are a feel-good, taste-great alternative to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
What to Consider: They contain little or no protein or fiber and are high in sodium.
Move over, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, these spicy veggie straws are a healthier way to scratch the fiery itch while traveling. Made from non-GMO vegetables like potatoes, spinach, beetroot, and carrots, Sensible Portions Veggie Straws have up to 30 percent less fat than regular potato chips. We love how crunchy and airy they are and that a serving equals about 38 straws. Are these the healthiest snacks on the list? No, but they are a more nutritious alternative to other similar snack foods, so we’re counting it as a win. Each bag has about four servings, so be sure to seal it between snacking to keep these straws from going stale.
Price at time of publish: $25 for pack of 12
Special diet: Dairy-free, gluten-free | Perishability: Medium
Tips for Buying Travel Snacks
Purchase the right snacks for your type of trip
Consider your mode of transport, packing options, and destination when choosing your travel snacks. For example, if flying internationally, many countries will not allow meat products through customs. Avoid choosing snacks that are easily crushed or need to be kept cool, if planning a hiking excursion.
Don’t forget about cleaning up
Remember, whether you’re just snacking while in transit or on a long weekend camping trip, you’ll need to be able to properly dispose of any waste from your snacks. Choose snacks that have easy cleanup. Bonus points if they have recyclable packaging.
Keep taste and lasting satiation top of mind
Gorin recommends looking for snacks that will not only taste good but have staying power. Snacks that are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber are best for helping to keep you full and give you energy while you travel. A good source of protein will provide roughly 10 percent of the recommended 50 to 60 grams of daily protein.
Read product labels
To make sure you’re getting a healthy and hearty snack that will keep the gas burning throughout your travel day, Gorin says to look for minimal added sugar (5 grams or less) plus at least 5 grams of fiber and/or protein. “Many products don’t contain this amount of fiber and protein,” she says, “do look for at least one or the other.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you bring snacks on a plane?
Yes, you can bring your own snacks on a plane as long as they comply with the TSA rules where applicable. Keep in mind any cooling packs will also need to comply with security limits (i.e., gel freezer packs need to be under the allotted liquid amount, even when frozen).
How do I keep food warm or cold while traveling?
Insulated coolers are the best and easiest way to keep your food either hot or cold while traveling. Cold packs, heat packs, and dry ice are not advised, particularly if traveling by plane.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
For this story, Katherine Alex Beaven sourced recommendations and tips from a registered dietician about which snacks are the best for travel and what to look for when shopping for travel snacks. As a veteran traveler and someone with celiac disease, Alex also shared her tried-and-tested best snacks for travel.
Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.
21 essentials for traveling by train in 2023
Salmon Spread Might Just Be the Most Alaskan Food | Travel
10 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S.