31 Best Lunch Ideas for the Road Trip + Healthy Tips

Planning a long car ride for a family road trip?  Aside from packing your luggage, you will need some great lunch ideas for the road trip as well! 

Part of the the fun of road trip meal planning is choosing which types of snacks you want to have that are simple and convenient.

Road trip meals are often an afterthought for many people because they are so busy with planning all of the other details.  However, planning your easy road trip lunch ideas and snacks will give you lots of benefits such as healthier choices, saving you money, and saving travel time.

There are so many options for easy road trip meals to create an epic road trip.  The key is to have some variety and also some great healthy options for the road.  Being alert and having good energy is essential for a smooth road trip.  

Choosing wisely and including healthy road trip food is a great way to start the road trip. 

Simple Lunch Ideas for the Road

Packing great road trip lunches and snacks is a great way to save money while traveling.  Stopping at a restaurant, even it if is fast food, can be a cost that adds up quickly.  Not only that, but when you bring some great road trip snacks, you will not have to stop as often which makes is quicker to get to your destination. 

Ultimate Road Trip Food List (Lunch Ideas for the Road) 

If you are planning the ultimate road trip, you need the ultimate list of lunch ideas for the road.  Whether you are planning for you and friend or the whole family, packing some great options for both lunch and snacking is essential.  

When packing salad options be sure to add some olive oil for healthy fats and a variety of delicious salad toppings.  Additionally, think about what protein you will have on the salad as well such as a tuna packet or adding chickpeas.

If you are wondering what are the best road trip meals to pack, you have come to the right place. Here is a list of lunch ideas for the road as well as snack ideas:

Lunch Ideas for the Road

  1. Peanut Butter Sandwich

  2. Chicken Salad Sandwich

  3. Tuna Salad Sandwich

  4. Pasta Salad

  5. Deli Meats Wrap

  6. Tuna Packet with Crackers

  7. Salmon Packet with Salad

  8. Charcuterie Lunch Box

  9. Salad Spring Rolls

  10. Chickpea Salad Wraps

  11. Pinwheels

  12. 3 Bean Salad

  13. Salad in a Jar

  14. Pita Pocket

  15. Guacamole Nachos with Beans

  16. Almond Butter Sandwich

  17. Protein Meal Drink

  18. Quesadillas with marinara

  19. Peanut Butter and Banana Tortilla Wrap

  20. Rotisserie Chicken, Kale, and Quinoa Bowl

  21. Hummus and Veggie Pita

  22. Low Carb Turkey Wrap

  23. Sushi Rolls

  24. Roasted Red Peppers, Hummus, and Whole Grain Chips

  25. Waffles with Peanut Butter

  26. Fruit Salad

  27. Broccoli Salad

  28. Vegetable and Deli Meat Pinwheels

  29. Egg Salad Wrap

  30. Fruit and Granola Parfait

  31. Cold Grilled Chicken Sandwich

lunch ideas for road

Having a plan in place for lunch options is a great choice when planning a road trip.  However, the snacks and sides for your lunch are also important.  

Be sure to include a variety of flavors both sweet and savory.  A variety of textures is also nice to include.

Road Trip Snacks and Side Items

  1. ​trail mix
  2. hard-boiled eggs
  3. ​bell peppers
  4. string cheese
  5. granola bars
  6. beef jerky
  7. edamame
  8. popcorn
  9. applesauce

Picnic Lunch Ideas for the Road

​Part of the fun of lunch for the road is a quick lunch stop.  If you plan to have a picnic lunch, be sure to plan ahead where you will stop to make sure that it is a nice, safe location.  

Picnic lunch ideas for road trips are a fun adventure.

A rest stop can be one option that usually has some type of picnic tables.  Alternatively, there may also be a great park on the way.  Do your research to check to see what is the best location for you. 

lunch ideas for the road

Check out all of these picnic ideas here in this post for valentines picnic ideas which will give you plenty of ideas for a variety of items. 

​One thing to remember is to bring a blanket for a picnic in case there is not a picnic table.  An outdoor picnic will be a fun memory for the road trip if you are traveling on a nice day. 

Here are some of the best options for the picnic lunch ideas for the road:

  • Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • ​Chicken Salad Sandwich
  • Tuna Salad Sandwich
  • Pasta Salad
  • Deli Meats Wrap
  • ​Tuna Packet with Crackers
  • Salmon Packet with Salad
  • Charcuterie Lunch Box
  • Salad in a Jar
  • Quinoa Salad Bowl
  • Fruit Salad

Easy Road Trip Lunches and Travel Meal Ideas

It may sound obvious but the classic sandwich is going to be the easiest road trip lunch.  There are several sandwich options so you don’t have to be stuck with the same menu.  

Keep it fun and interesting with a variety of fillings.  In addition, you can also get a sandwich tray at your local grocery store for your an easy road trip lunch.  Be sure to take them out of the big tray and package them into sandwich bags for ease of packing and grabbing.

Another easy road trip lunch is to pack items that don’t need refrigeration such as a tuna packet with crackers.  These packets are shelf stable along with a pack of crackers to go along with it.  It makes a nice light lunch that is easy to pack. 

Last, but not least, an easy road trip lunch is something hand held that does not require a fork, spoon, or bowl.  An example of this is a spring roll.  

A spring roll is the perfect hand held size that is not messy and requires no utensils.  Make spring rolls ahead and pack them up in a cold lunch box. These make ahead road trip meals will let you hit the road with a simple and convenient road trip lunch option.

These ideas are great for bringing to sports activities such as pickleball snacks.

Easy Meals for Traveling

​The easiest meals for traveling are going to be two things: hand-held and not messy!  Who wants a mess in the car?  No one, that ‘s why it is great to have a great road trip snack that does get everywhere if someone eats it in the car.  

In addition, having a roll a paper towels in the car is essential as well.  

If you do pack something that may be mess, consider bringing a tray.  A tray will contain the drippings or crumbs in one space.  You can clean and empty the tray when you get to your destination.  The best part is that the mess will be in the tray and not on the seat and floor of your car.

Easy Travel Food Ideas

​When you are ready to hit the road for an epic road trip, planning easy travel food ideas is a good idea for a smooth road trip plan. 

One of the best easy travel food ideas is to pack make-ahead meals.  Putting together make-ahead meals such as salads make nice healthy road trip meals.  Packing meals ahead of time is a great way to ensure less stops and less cost for the road trip.  

Stopping at restaurants and purchasing convenience items from gas stations are a quick way to increase the budget of the road trip.

Plan your meals ahead of time so that you can have more money to spend at your planned destination rather than just something quick to eat on the road. 

Having some healthy snacks on hand will help curb your appetite for just a random stop at a fast food chain.  Moreover, opt for some fresh fruit instead of a slushee at a gas station.   The fresh fruit will be much more satisfying. 

Bringing your own food for easy travel is the best way to opt for more healthy road trip snack.  Moreover, if you are planning lunch ideas for the road for family, bringing lunch is a nice option to save money and time.  .

Easy Travel Lunch Ideas and Snack Ideas

Travel with ease with easy lunch ideas for the road that aren’t a lot of trouble to pack.  Easy is a relative statement when it comes to lunch preparation.  As what is easy for one person may not be as easy for another.  

However, these are some easy lunch ideas for road trips that are really simple and convenient.

Simple and Convenient Packaged Snacks

Here is a list of packaged grab-and-go style road trip snacks:

  • trail mix (packaged)
  • string cheese (individually packaged)
  • granola bars (packaged)
  • beef jerky (packaged)
  • popcorn (pre-popped)
  • applesauce (packaged cups or pouches)
  • guacamole (packaged) and baked chips (individually bagged)
  • protein meal drink (ready-to-drink)
  • Greek yogurt (see list of Greek yogurt snack ideas)

Gas Station Food for the Road Trip

During the road trip, you may need to stop for the restroom or for gas which is usually at some type of gas station convenience store.  If you forgot to pack enough road trip food, let’s talk about some options that you may commonly find at a convenience store.  

We know that these locations usually are stocked with potato chips and “junk food” types of items.  Additionally, these items will be an extra cost as well.  

However, one of my best tips for a long road trip is to choose wisely.  Choosing wisely can help you stay alert and feel good with healthy foods and healthy lunch ideas on the road.

Healthier Choices at Gas Station Convenience Stores

Here are some options that you might find at a gas station convenience store that are somewhat healthier snacks:

  • Beef Jerky
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Baked Chips
  • Fresh Whole Fruit like bananas and oranges if they have them
  • Dried Fruit or Freeze Dried Fruit
  • Water Bottles
  • Flavored Water
  • Unsweetened Tea
  • 100% Fruit Juice
  • Sparkling Water
  • Vitamin or Electrolyte Water
  • Wrapped Cold Cuts Sandwiches
  • Pretzels
  • Nuts
  • Trail Mix

Sometimes snacking in the car is from boredom from the drive.  That’s why I also like to get a pack of sugar free gum for the road as well. 

How to Travel with Road Trip Food

When traveling with road trip food, it is essential to pack it in the right containers and keep it at the right temperature. 

​You went through the trouble of coming up with the best lunch ideas for the road trip, so we need to make sure that is held at safe temperatures.  

Plan ahead by freezing ice packs and water bottles to keep cold foods cold.  When you remove a food item from the ice chest of the lunch bag, be sure to close it to keep the cold temperature in the bag.  

Some other essentials that you will need for packing road trip food:

  • ​Plastic wrap to wrap your food such as sandwiches tightly. (My favorite is Press-n-Seal). 
  • Paper towels for keeping the area clean. 
  • ​Resealable bags for keeping sliced items or snack mixes.
  • Plastic forks or spoons depending on the items that you bring with you.

Healthy Tips for Lunch Ideas for the Road

The best tip for healthy lunches on the road is to plan ahead.  This is a tip even if you are planning lunch ideas for work on the road as well. 

When we get hungry, we often look for immediate gratification with fast food and convenience store items.  These are fine for occasional use, however, if you want to not feel over-stuffed for the road, it is best to bring light lunch and snack ideas.  ​

Tip #1 Plan and pack snacks and lunch meals for road trips ahead

Riding in the car is a passive activity, meaning little movement and low activity.  Therefore, light lunches and snacks are perfect for this so that you can feel good and refreshed when you arrive at your destination. 

Tip #2 Wash and cut up fresh vegetables

Access to fresh vegetables are lower on road trips as far as convenience stores and even fast food restaurants.  There is not much selection on fresh vegetables. Here are ideas for fresh vegetables that are simple and convenient:  carrots, celery, and sliced bell pepper. 

Tip #3 Pack fro fruit cups for easy snacks

Fruit cups go underrated in my opinion.  They are shelf stable, simple, and convenient.  Fruit cups are also great for kids. Additionally, fruit pouches such as applesauce make fruit options really easy. 

Planning On the Road Lunch Ideas

Road trip planning is simple when you have the right lunch meal ideas and snacks in your lunch box and insulated container.

Often times, we may think we have to pack elaborate snacks and lunch ideas for the road.  Planning elaborate meals and snacks can be overwhelming, and it can lead to just not packing anything at all.  

However, it can be quite simple.  We have learned here that it is fine to pack sandwiches and easy and convenient lunches and snacks.  We have also learned that we can eat healthy snacks on the road.  

Not to mention, we can find packaged items to bring with us to make our lives and road trip planning simple.  

Having a great road trip snack does not mean sacrificing flavor, fun, and convenience.  With the right planning and packing strategies, it is easy to pack items like make-ahead meals, sandwiches, washed and sliced vegetables, and even a salad in a jar. 

Have fun on your road trip whether you are planning a picnic adventure for your lunch ideas on the road or if you are eating in the car on the way to your destination.  Remember the fun is not only the actual trip but also the fun is in the planning road trip food ideas as well. 


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