This post is by regular contributor Kate Fairlie of Picklebums.
Hungry kids are whiny kids and there is nothing worse than a car full of whiny kids on a road trip. To avoid this particular disaster I make sure to pack a variety of snacks for any long journey we have planned.
My aim is for my kids to be as self-sufficient as possible so that I am not forever passing back food and organizing drinks, or having to actually stop the car to sort it out. Here are a few tips and suggestions based on how I manage snacks when travelling with four kids in the back…
- We try to keep our travel snacks mostly healthy but if we are traveling a very long way I always pop in a couple of less healthy treats as a surprise. I find lots of little things with some variety works well.
- Travel is not the time for kids to try new foods – stick with what you know they like.
- This is one occasion where I may buy individually packaged items but even for travel I try to stick with homemade or big pack items as they are cheaper, mean less waste, and are usually easier to manage.
Our favourite travel snacks include…
- Pita chips
- Muesli bars – store bought or homemade (see tried and tested recipes here and here)
- Sweet biscuits/cookies – oatmeal cookies are particularly good for an extra protein kick
- Savoury biscuits/crackers
- Olives or pickles
- Corn chips – sometimes I will buy flavoured potato chips as a treat
- Veggie sticks – carrot and capsicum are our favourites
- Easy to eat fruit – apples, bananas and mandarins work well
- Dried fruit – with yogurt covered berries or banana chips as a special treat
- Homemade dried fruit balls – make them bite sized, just right for kids
Containers and Storage
Each of my children gets their own snack box. We’ve tried various types of containers and I find those that work best have sections so you can offer different food choices together. Attached lids (so they don’t get lost) are a must and lids should also be easy to open and close independently by little fingers. But finding containers like that is not always easy, so the humble snap lock bag works well too.
I pack a container of snacks for each child to have right from the start with an understanding that if they eat everything straight away they will have to wait until our first stop for more. I also pack an insulated bag (with an ice pack as even food that doesn’t need refrigerating can get hot and icky in the car) with more of everything and a few secret treats so I can restock the kids containers during the trip.
Things to Avoid
- I try to avoid giving too much sweet food as I want my kids to be filled up not hyped up.
- I especially avoid anything that is super messy – anything with excessive crumb potential (ever vacuumed pastry out of a car seat?), anything that drips, anything that melts (ever gotten out of the car to find melted chocolate on your bottom?), anything that spills easily – they are all out.
- Keep it simple, easy to eat with one hand, and easy to clean up.
- For our trips everyone has their own named water bottle in their own car seat cup holder.
- Make sure water bottles are easy for small hands to close to prevent spills between sips. Our toddler does better with a twist top than a pop top and I usually give him a smaller bottle just in case he forgets to close it and it leaks into his seat. A smaller amount means less mess.
- Don’t forget to take along one or two bigger bottles of water to refill everyone’s individual bottles.
Don’t Forget the Rubbish!
There is nothing worse than getting home from a long car trip to find something sticky glued to the side of the car seat and the car full of wrappers, peels, half eaten crackers, and other general rubbish. To tame the garbage I always give my kids their own rubbish bags.
A plastic bag taped to the car door or even attached to the side of the car seat is an easy way to make sure it is always within reach. Even our toddler can put his rubbish in the bag if reminded. When we get to our destination we just remind everyone to put their rubbish bag in the bin. Easy!
Have your got any great tips or suggestion for travel snacks? I’d love to hear how you manage snacks for long and short road trips.