Hitting the open road for a road trip means that you need snacks. I mean, you’re bound to get hungry, so use this list do a little advanced planning, and pre-purchase some snacks to take with you. Read on to find the best gluten-free snacks for a road trip.
My hubby has to eat gluten-free (plus has a few other food sensitivities) which requires us to be constantly careful about how he eats.
And it’s not just at restaurants. We also have to check the nutrition label of everything we purchase in stores or online.
But that doesn’t stop us from packing plenty of snacks. After all, snacking is one of the great things to do on a long road trip.
We just make sure that all of the travel snacks we pack are gluten-free.
But what are the best road trip snacks for people who eat gluten-free? Keep reading to see the full list!
Need help planning the perfect trip? Make sure you read our awesome list of travel planning resources to help you on your way.
What “normal” snacks are gluten-free?
Before we dive into the full list of the best gluten-free road trip snacks (keep reading!), there are plenty of snacks that work well for a road trip that already come gluten-free. Among these are things like popcorn, nuts, fruits, and veggies.
There are also many kinds of chips that are naturally gluten-free (like corn chips and potato chips), but always make sure you read the ingredient lists and allergen warnings on the nutrition label.
Some snacks and candies seem like they would be gluten-free but have added ingredients that contain gluten and/or are manufactured in facilities that also process wheat products, which could result in cross-contamination.
I’m sure you’re aware of the snacks that are normally made with gluten, such as pretzels and most crackers.
Gluten-free versions of these snacks can be a good option, but they can also be expensive.
It can also be hard to find gluten-free crackers that don’t taste like cardboard. I’m just saying. But don’t worry, we’ll give you our top picks below.
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Salty gluten-free snacks for a road trip
Some people like salty snacks. Some people like sweet snacks. We love both. Let’s explore our favorite salty snacks first.
Chips and such
Your classic potato chips or corn chips should be gluten-free, but always check the label just to be sure.
- Potato chips—a classic great option for snacking on the road (if you can keep them from getting crushed).
- Corn/tortilla chips—my dad would say you only need Fritos. But any tortilla chips make a good road trip snack. If they’re flavored, make sure you double-check the ingredients list and allergy warning label. Those artificial flavorings are notorious for hiding gluten ingredients.
- Rice chips—these are really good. Like tortilla chips, but made with rice. Yum!
- Pirate’s Booty—they’re white cheddar corn and rice puffs. So yummy. Check them out here.
Nuts and seeds are some of the best gluten-free snacks for a road trip
Aside from chips, nuts are our favorite salty snack.
They travel well and are perfect for keeping the “hangries” at bay.
- Cashews (Darcy’s favorite)—they’re excellent raw or salted and roasted. You can even find some great flavored varieties. They’re a-mah-zing.
- Macadamias (Hubby’s favorite)—Yes, they’re crazy expensive, but fun to buy every now and then as a treat.
- Almonds—also great raw or salted and roasted. These are my favorite super-yum flavor.
- Pistachios—buy them shelled so the driver can eat them easily and so you don’t get bits of shell all over the place. Because that will happen. Seriously. Hubby loves these.
- Hazelnuts—You might not be able to find these in your average grocery store. I get mine from Trader Joe’s. Or try these.
- Peanuts—a classic, and of course more affordable than other nuts. Great for making your own trail mix too.
- Sunflower seeds—salted and roasted. So simple and packed with protein.
Misc. salty/savory gluten-free snacks
- Beef jerky—this is one of hubby’s favorite treats. Definitely read the nutrition label carefully though. MANY varieties are made with soy sauce, which is not gluten-free. You can even find grass-fed beef jerky, which Hubby always prefers when he can find it. But nothing spicy.
- Popcorn—super cheap, especially if you pop it yourself. Try doing it in an air popper without butter or salt for a healthier alternative to the usual microwave popcorn. Air-popped popcorn also has the benefit of not being greasy, so you don’t get butter all over the steering wheel.
- Gluten-free pretzels—you can’t go wrong with these.
- Gluten-free crackers—these are hubby’s favorite gluten-free crackers.
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Sweet gluten-free road trip snacks
I have a terrible (awesome?) sweet tooth, so basically assume our car will be packed with at least one or two sweet treats when we road trip.
Snack bars and granola bars are a great way to get a sweet snack but lie to yourself about it being healthy.
These are my top picks.
- Granola bars—we never travel without these. They’re also great for packing in your day trip bag while you’re out exploring at your destination.
- Kind bars—Don’t assume the Kind bar you picked up is gluten-free. Make sure you read that label. These flavors are gluten-free.
Hubby and I are both chocoholics, so that means we’re rarely without it…even on road trips.
Of course, you should plan to keep any chocolate cool if road-tripping in warmer weather.
- M&Ms—a classic…and a favorite of hubby, who does basically all the driving. So, he gets to choose to bring his favorites.
- Hershey kisses and Hershey nuggets—individually wrapped for convenience. Buy the variety pack of the nuggets. It keeps everyone happy.
- Dark chocolate—hubby loves dark chocolate. He also claims it’s good for you, so…win-win. These are great for when you need just a little something.
Other sweet treats
- Gluten-free cookies—these gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are great.
- Boomchickapop—if nothing else you should at least try it because the name of the product is fun.
Healthy gluten-free food on the go
Although it may not be clear (judging by the snacks we’ve described for you above), we also make a point to pack healthy snacks for our road trips as well.
And healthier snacks are definitely what we gravitate toward on the return trip…after a week or two of indulging in a lot of desserts and eating mostly restaurant meals.
Whole or sliced fresh fruit
We never road trip without some fruit. It’s a great choice for staying healthy on the road and bridging the gap to your next meal.
Fruit is my snack of choice for when I’m truly hungry and not just feeling snack-ish.
And whole fruit is an excellent option for reducing waste since you won’t have to pack them in bags or containers.
Or slice it up if that’s what you prefer.
Great options include:
- Mandarin oranges
Dried fruit travels well (No smushing! No bruises!) and is also a good source of fiber and plant phenols.
According to the editor in chief of the Harvard Health Letter.
“Dried fruits also contain more fiber and more of the antioxidants called phenols than fresh fruit, per ounce. Fiber fights heart disease, obesity, and some types of cancer (although its possible protective effect against colon cancer is controversial). People with diets rich in plant phenols have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, several kinds of cancer, and possibly degenerative brain diseases.”— Anthony Komaroff, M.D., Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
If buying packaged dried fruits, look for those without added sugars. Here are some great options:
- Dried apricots
- Apple chips or dried apple slices
Or watch this video from the American Heart Association and learn how to do DIY dried fruit.
Not everyone is “into” fruit, so maybe try some raw veggies. It’s super simple and so good for you.
You can even find stuff that’s been prepared for you so you don’t have to do any washing or chopping.
Try these great options:
- Carrot sticks or baby-cut carrots
- Pea pods
- Green pepper slices
- Sweet bell pepper slices
- Cucumber rounds
The downside of this one is that it does need to be kept cool.
But if you’re bringing a cooler with you anyway for drinks and things, you can easily throw in some packs of cheese.
These options travel pretty well:
- String cheese (just like when you were a kid!)
- Baby bells
- Monterey Jack
- Pepper Jack
- Colby Jack
Yes, they’re the less exciting relative of the roasted, salted, and flavored nuts mentioned above, but we never travel without these.
Some nuts are better raw than others. These are the kinds we enjoy the most:
You can find some really good organic brown rice cakes. These are my favorite variety.
Pro tip: Spread a little Laughing Cow cheese on your rice cake, add some fruit, and (boom) you have a super easy, grab-it-and-run travel breakfast.
Final thoughts on gluten-free road trip snacks
Although eating gluten-free can definitely be a challenge, as you can see, there are a lot of great gluten-free travel snacks you can bring with you on your road trip.
And so many of them are cheap and easy. You don’t even have to go anywhere near the super expensive ones.
From salty and savory to sweet to super healthy, you won’t go hungry on your travels even if you have dietary limitations.
More articles about eating gluten-free on the road
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- The best places to eat in Colonial Williamsburg
- Where to eat in Florence, Italy (with tips for gluten-free and vegetarian travelers)
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