If you’re traveling with kids, snacks can be an invaluable resource. You may not be able to find a restaurant at all times, or you may not want to spend money on expensive fast food.
At times like these, you’ll be thankful for the snacks you brought with you, and your kids won’t get stuck eating Happy Meals for a week.
Just as you’re saving money on food and snacks, be sure to save money on attraction visits, too. Pick up a Go City® Card to save big on admission to top children’s museums, theme parks, amusement parks, and more.
So without further ado, here are some ideas for best travel snacks for kids:
A healthy kid is a happy kid. And though they may be convenient, you don’t want to only feed your kids candy and cookies. Fresh fruit is always a smart idea, and is easily obtained at nearly any market.
Opt for juices and water over sodas, which aren’t as health-conscious and can make kids jittery. Bringing a few bags of cereals like Honeynut Cheerios and Kashi is also a smart idea. These cereals will last longer than snacks like chips or Cheeze-its and are much healthier.
Fruit cups, trail mix, and whole grain crackers are snacks that are just as delicious as they are healthy. You can also give kids protein bars that are more filling than regular snack bars.
Put together snack bags full of vegetables like carrots, cucumber slices and celery to give the kids a little variety. Beef jerky and fruit leather are also easy to eat and won’t make a huge mess.
After all that healthy snacking, you’ll want to treat them to some good old fashioned fun. Try an amusement park like the Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier, the rides at Navy Pier, or even the High Roller observation wheel in Las Vegas for a guaranteed great time.
Pack a Cooler
For snacks and drinks that require refrigeration, make sure you bring a cooler with you. Cooler items can include everything from fresh vegetables to yogurts to cheeses and apple slices.
For very young children, squeezable fruit blends are delicious, healthy, and don’t make a mess! It’s also a convenient way to pack some snacks for the adults, too!
You can also use these cooler snacks as part of a larger meal strategy that does include stops at kid-friendly restaurants.
Snacks as Bribes
It may sound silly, but using snacks as bribes is a tactic that can easily keep even the most unruly kids under control. “Forbidden” snacks like cookies and candy can prove to be great prizes or rewards for good behavior.
For example, promise the kids a handful of M&Ms if they sit quietly for the next two hours in the car. Of course, if your kids love healthy snacks, then feel free to use some apples and peanut butter as a bribe, too!
Plus, snacks can also be a reward for good behavior, like being quiet in a museum or at a monument. Can’t get that to work? Choose a museum that appeals to their interests, like the Chicago Children’s Museum or the WonderWorks in Orlando.
If you’re looking to have a picnic or simply have lunch on the go, there are some great options for kids. Smucker’s Uncrustables sandwiches are portable frozen PB&Js that fit in the palm of your hand. Put some in a bag and they’ll be thawed by lunch time.
Oscar Mayer Lunchables have been a staple in portable foods for the past 20 years. These well-balanced mini-meals come in 25 different varieties, from finger foods to mini pizzas, to tiny tacos or baby burgers. Recent changes in Lunchable packaging has brought on the inclusion of healthier drinks and desserts.
If you have a little more time to pack lunches in a cooler, try cold cut sandwiches, pasta salad, and celery with peanut butter. You can also bring leftovers from the night before for a tasty and cost-free lunch!
If You Have to Stop
If you find yourselves out on the road with only fast food joints to turn to for food, don’t fret. Many of the big chains have healthy options on the menu for your little ones.
Your best bet for healthy fast food would probably be at Panera or d’Angelos. If you can’t find anything similar, there are still some healthy snacks on the other chains’ menus due to recent nutrition legislation and recent efforts at promoting healthy childhood eating.
At McDonald’s, you can order your child a snack size fruit and salad or a fruit and yogurt parfait. At Burger King, order a garden salad with juice or fat-free milk.
Most, if not all, fast food franchises offer milk, juice, or bottled water in lieu of soda for kids meals, as well as tiny portions of fries (which decreases the calorie count substantially), fruit slices, even things like pretzels or crackers instead of chips.
Still uncomfortable with fast food? Help them burn off some of those calories with a trip to an interactive amusement park like SeaWorld San Diego or LEGOLAND Florida, where rides and slides combine with tons of fun and adventure to keep them on the go for hours.
Save on Admission
Of course, the purpose of a road trip is more than just eating – it’s all about the attractions! Whether you’re roaming the country in search of that perfect theme park for the whole family, or exploring new destinations with a few kid-friendly museums, you’ll be able to save on admission with Go City® Cards.