Do You Need a Snack Bag?

We travel a LOT!  Road trips, camping, sporting events, hiking trips, practices, and lessons have me driving hours each month.  After years of continuous travel and activities, I have a system for all of those snacks we need to keep us moving.  It’s called the snack bag.  Do you need one for your family?

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The Snack Bag

Yes, we have a designated snack bag.  Initially when I started packing a bag for snacks, I felt a little ridiculous.  However, now my kids always know where the snacks are, which pocket is for mommy, and where to find their water bottles.  To simplify things even more, all of these things fit in the same bag.  Genius?  Yes, yes it is.

This cooler is similar to our “snack bag”.  It’s a softshell cooler with a hard plastic liner inside.  In the main pocket, we pack snacks that do not need refrigeration and are not temperature sensitive.  This way, the entire bag can sit in any vehicle despite the weather outside (think summer heat or winter).  The front pocket is for mommy snacks (more expensive snacks or simply things I don’t want the kids to eat).  The mesh pocket on the side is a perfect water bottle holder, one for each of my children.

A cooler similar to our “snack bag”. We take this everywhere. There is plenty of room for a picnic lunch to road trip snacks.

To make trips even easier, we use zipable snack bags or small plastic containers to divide the snacks into serving sizes.  Prepackaged snacks are often expensive and usually not that healthy (think chips, cookies, etc.).  By packaging our own snacks, we can choose healthier options.  This system also keeps the vehicle cleaner, reduces the amount of germs shared, helps minimize excess snacking, and allows for everyone to get the opportunity to get enough snacks.  I’m not the only one with kids who fight about that last bag of popcorn, am I?

Healthier snacks options include:

  • Pretzels – Look for a 100% wheat variety.
  • Popcorn – Plain popcorn is the healthiest option.  My kids like Skinny Pop which can be purchased in snack sized bags.
  • Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels – Peanut butter adds protein.
  • Fruit Snacks or Fruit Leather – Look for versions that contain 100% fruit.
  • Applesauce Pouches/Cups – These containers don’t require refrigeration, but could burst in extreme temperatures.  Pick one that does not have added sugar.
  • Jerky – This is a favorite in our house.  Individual serving packets can be purchased at Costco.
  • Dried Fruit – Purchasing this in the bulk aisle is a great way to save money.
  • Trail Mix – I prefer to make my own with unsalted nuts and dried coconut.  We also like the individual packets from Costco.
  • Nuts – I like an unsalted mix, my kids prefer peanuts.
  • Granola Bars – Some granola bars are similar to a candy bar in sugar content so be sure to check the label.
  • Fruit Cups – Like applesauce cups, these don’t require refrigeration.  Look for cups that are not packaged in syrup.
  • Crackers – We usually pack these to go with meat and cheese.
  • Dry Cereal – Choose options that are larger and hold together well like Cheerios, Oatmeal Squares, or Life.
  • Rice Cakes – There are so many flavor options.
  • Bread Bars – One of my kids loves these.  Belvita makes a banana bread variety that travels well and they are individually packed.
  • Pepperoni Sticks – Similar to jerky, but another great option that does not need refrigeration.

The Cooler

On longer trips, we also travel with a hard sided cooler for items that need refrigeration.  The cooler contains extra drinks, meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, etc.  For day trips or errands, we use a small cooler like the one below.  For long road trips or camping, we use a larger cooler.

We use a cooler like this for items that we prefer to stay cold like drinks, fruits, veggies, meats, and cheeses.

Things for the Cooler:

  • Cheese Sticks – These are a family favorite.  There are several varieties to choose from and individual packages make things easier.
  • Salami/Lunch Meat – We use this for meat and cheese roll-ups or crackers with meat and cheese.
  • Fruit – Oranges, apples, and grapes travel well and are our favorites.  Berries, plums, peaches, and nectarines are sometimes in our cooler for variety although they are more sensitive.
  • Veggies – Carrots, cucumbers, and small veggie trays also travel well.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs – This is a great travel snack.
  • Yogurt – Tube style yogurt is less messy than traditional cups.  I love Greek yogurt with mix-ins.
  • Pre-packaged Salads or Sandwiches – These can be found in the deli section of a grocery store.  These are great lunches for our day trips, picnics, and river trips.


  • Flavored Seltzer Water or Sparkling Water – A no calorie option.
  • Water – Because, water.
  • Iced Tea – I love iced tea!  This is another no calorie drink option.
  • Iced Coffee – A low-calorie drink option for the person who needs caffeine (perfect for long drives).
  • Smoothies – We sometimes get the Naked juices or Bolthouse smoothies for a breakfast-on-the-go option.  These also work great long road trips or camping trips.
  • Milk – On longer trips, the kids sometimes want something to drink other than water.  Some brands like Horizon do not need to be refrigerated (can be found in the juice aisle).
  • Protein Shakes – Another option for those extra long days or a breakfast-on-the-go.

Should You Have a Snack Bag?

I love our snack bag!  With our family of four, this one bag helps us keep our snacks and drinks organized wherever we go.  No matter what activity we do, our snack bag comes along.  As the kids get older, they’ve even started packing the bag themselves which is a dream come true for any parent!

Do you have a snack bag for your family?  What do you pack?

"One way to make the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure." -William Feather