a basket full of snacks for kids for a road trip

Best Mess-Free Snacks for Kids for Road Trips that are Car Approved

Table of Contents

Road trips can be fun especially when you have delicious snacks to fuel your trip. Kids always seem to be hungry but they can also be very messy. Trust me, I know! For this reason I want to share our favorite mess free road trip snacks for kids with you. I also share my best tips on how to make snack time more fun and ready for on the road too.

Best Mess-Free Snacks for Kids for Road Trips

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Why Snack Time and Snacks for Kids is Important During a Road Trip

Road trips can be fun but also very stressful when you have hungry kids. Or like my children get… HANGRY! For this reason, it is important to always have snacks with you on your road trips or any outing, really. Eating a healthy snack in between meals also helps keep your child content. Happy kids, happy parents!

10 Tips for a Mess Free Snack Time in the Car

Before you head out on your road trip, make sure you have these 10 tips in place. These tips will help avoid messes, plan ahead, and be prepared.

a baby sleeping in his car seat during a family road trip

1. Let Your Kids Know the Snacking Rules for Your Car

Rules are important to keep in place. I like to have a clean car, or at least as clean as possibly manageable with kids. I hate finding random food items under my seats or crumbs and food stains on my seats. For this reason we have a few rules in place to help avoid messes in the car. Some of our rules include:

  • Dispose of trash properly.
  • Try your best to avoid making messes or spilling your drink.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • One snack at a time.
  • Always use the wings on your juice box to avoid leaks in the car. The ‘wings’ as we call them are the little flaps on the side of the cardboard boxes. I pull them out like wings so they don’t squeeze the middle of the box and juice spills out through the straw.
  • Always clean your hands with a wipe after snack time.

2. Prep Before Your Road Trip

Have a snacking plan in mind. What snacks do you want to bring and do they need to be prepped? I like to prep items, such as slicing apples, ahead of time to avoid any messes. I find it’s much easier for all of us this way.

If the snacks you choose to bring need to be prepped, make sure you do ahead of time and store accordingly and in proportioned reusable bags.

3. Let Your Kids Pick Out One ‘Fun’ Road Trip Snack Each

Make it fun and take your kids with you to pick out a fun snack. You can also do this during your road trip at a gas station. This will help your kids get more excited about the road trip.

4. Pack Snacks in a Bowl or Reusable and Resealable Bag

If you have snacks that are in big containers or that need to be prepped such as fruits and veggies, always make sure to pack them in a small bowl or reusable bag. This will make snack time much easier for your kids since their snack is proportioned beforehand and precut for easy picking.

5. Cut or Slice Fruits and Vegetables for Easy Picking

To make things easier and mess free during your road trip make sure to cut or Slice fruits and vegetables. This makes it easier for your child to pick them during snack time.

A cooler full of snacks for kids and food for a family road trip

6. Keep All Snacks With You or in a Designated Place Until Snack Time

Kids will try to be sneaky. It is important to keep all snacks in a designated area or with you to avoid messes and over eating. To make things easier, you can have a “snack bin” to keep all of your snacks organized. We like to keep our snacks in either a car organizer or a plastic basket towards the front of the car by us.

7. Have a Trashcan or Trash Bag in Your Car at ALL TIMES

Whether it’s a trashbag or a small car trash can, we always aim to have one in the car. This helps your children know that all trash is to be disposed of properly in the trash bag. It also helps keep your car clean and mess free during road trips.

8. Bring a Tumbler or Water Bottle to Keep Drinks Contained

I always push a water bottle for my kids and sometimes even a small cup with a lid. This helps about should and unwanted leaks or messes during the trip. We really like to use our Hydroflasks for keeping our water cold and a tumbler for our other drinks.

9. Bring a Roll of Paper Towels for Quick Cleanups

You can never go wrong with planning ahead. Sometimes messes are unavoidable. This is why I like to keep a roll or two of paper towels in the car. They come in handy when you need a napkin and also for quick cleanups.

10. Pack Some Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer for Clean Hands

It is one of our rules that after they eat a snack they get a wipe to clean their hands. This avoids having any greasy or sticky fingers touching everything in your car. For this reason I always make sure to have some wet wipes and hand sanitizer handy at all times.

a girl playing on her tablet during a road trip

How to Store Your Snacks for a Road Trip

There are various ways that we store our snacks during our family road trips. I usually have a container or a basket where I store all of the snacks in. We also carry with us a cooler to keep some snacks in along with stuff for lunch like deli meat and cheese for sandwiches.

Other storage ideas are:

Healthy Snacks for Kids During Road Trips

In this list of mess-free and car approved snacks you will find a wide variety of snack ideas ranging from healthy snacks to not so healthy snacks. A big majority of our snacks are healthy but I do like to buy at least one of two ‘fun’ snacks for them. Here is our list of favorite road trip snacks.

Note: Please be cautious of your child’s allergies if any and avoid any items that are listed that can cause health complications to your child. This list of snack ideas is a general list for everyone.

Fruit Snack Ideas

  • Apple slices
  • Grapes
  • Mandarin oranges aka Halo
  • Sliced pea
  • Sliced peaches
  • Bananas
  • Cut up strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Rasberries
  • Blackberries

Vegetable Snack Ideas

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Baby tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Pepper slices
  • Cucumber slices

PARENT TIP: Bring almond butter or peanut butter cups to add extra flavor to their fruits and veggies. I recommend this for older kids since younger kids can be a bit messy. I did find that a butter texture was less messier than something more liquid like Ranch dressing.

Nuts and Seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia
  • Hazelnut
  • Pecans

Dry / Dehydrated Snack Ideas

  • Jerky
  • Mango
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Chips
  • Trail Mix
  • Raisins
  • Cranberries
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches

PARENT TIP: You can create a trail mix type of snack with seeds, nuts, and dehydrated fruits. You can make it at home before your road trip with your kids to make it fun and exciting for them.

a basket full of snacks for kids for a road trip

Breakfast and Morning Snack Ideas

  • Muffins – You can either buy your favorite muffins at the store or make your own to take with you. Little Bite’s is a brand that my kids like.
  • Breakfast biscuits – We really like these from blueberry breakfast muffin bars from Nature’s Valley.
  • Soft baked fruit bars – Our favorite are Nutri Grain but there is also Earth’s Best which is good too.
  • Granola bars – You can view our favorites listed below.
  • Cereal with no milk
  • Almond Butter
  • Peanut Butter
  • Fruits
  • Pancakes with no syrup
  • Toaster Pastries aka Pop Tarts
  • Yogurt
  • Granola with no milk
  • Nuts and seeds
  • String cheese
  • Fruit bars

Crackers, Chips, and Cookies

  • Animal crackers
  • Teddy Grahams
  • Oatmeal cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Oreos
  • Pita Chips
  • Your favorite chips or a bag of assorted chips.
  • Goldfish
  • Crackers


  • Fig Bars – We absolutely love Nature’s Bakery.
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit bars
  • Healthy brownie bar

Our Favorite Brands for Bars

Snack Ideas that Come in Pouches

  • Applesauce
  • Fruit and veggie blends
  • Yogurt
  • Homemade Squeeze Pouch Recipes
  • Pudding from Go Go Squeeze
  • Fruit and Protein Smoothies

Our Favorite Brands for Pouches

a girl with headphones on watching a movie and eating snacks during a family road trip

Not So Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids

  • Doughnut Holes
  • Rice Krispy Treats
  • Honey Buns
  • M&M’s
  • Gummy Bears
  • Jelly Beans
  • Fruit Gummies

Cold Snack Ideas

  • Yogurt or Go-Gurt
  • Cheese cut in slices or squares
  • String cheese
  • Turkey and cheese sandwich bites (or your choice of meat).
  • Sargento Cheese Snack Bowls

Drink Ideas for Snack Time

  • Water
  • Juice boxes
  • Gatorade
  • Smoothies
  • Danimals

Enjoy These Mess-Free Snacks for Kids for Road Trips that are Car Approved

Hope this snack guide helps you be more prepared for your road trip. Don’t forget to grab the free printable above so you can keep this list of snacks for kids handy along with the road trip tips.


Hi, I'm Jessica!

I am a wife and mother to three amazing kids. A coffee addict and wine lover. I also have a huge love for the mountains and the the ocean. Through my blog I hope to inspire families to spend more time outdoors. 


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