8 yummy, science-backed recipes for healthy travel snacks

This guest post comes from my friend Elise of Kale & Chocolate fame. Elise’s book Whole Food Energy is filled with 200 (!) recipes for delicious, healthy snacks you can take anywhere! Check out some of her favorite recipes here or follow along with her gorgeous Instagram feed here.

Better, more interesting advice than 'pack baby carrots and a water bottle.' You'll love these healthy travel snacks!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Time to gather our loved ones close, make memories, and give thoughtful, cherished gifts.

It’s also time to breathe germ-filled airplane air, pay $13 for a limp airport salad, and cobble together a meal from what’s available at the deli.

There are many lovely things about the holidays but travel eating isn’t usually one of them.

Travel isn’t always easy on our bodies. We’re often sleep deprived, we’re exposed to more germs, and our immune systems might not be functioning at full strength. When you add junk food, crashing blood sugar, and bad airplane snacks to the mix, it’s a recipe for meltdowns and perhaps even a bad case of the flu.

I know because I’ve been there – and I’m pretty much an expert at flying and eating healthy. With about a dozen annual trips across country, plus my work as a nutritional health coach and recipe developer, I’ve got a few tasty (and nourishing!) travel tricks up my sleeve.

Below you’ll find my healthy travel snacks and favorite tips to stay healthy while on the road and on the go!

healthy travel snacksStay hydrated

But I bet you already knew that, right? Pack your own water bottle and if you’re particularly concerned about hydration, add a teaspoon of chia seeds to your empty water bottle. Once you add water, the chia seeds will plump up and help you stay hydrated longer.

Kill two birds with one stone by packing snacks that are also hydrating.


  • Cucumber spears
  • Celery sticks
  • Radishes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Strips of bell peppers
  • Slices of star fruit
  • Grapes

If you’re traveling by car and don’t have to worry about the three ounce rule, load up some mason jars with your favorite smoothies and green juices!

Spiced roasted carrot hummus with cucumber spears, celery sticks, and bell peppers

This recipe takes hummus to the next level in flavor & nutrition! When you eat it with these veggies, you’re more likely to stave off dehydration.

Golden beet carrot apple juice

This juice is a must-make for any car trip. Ginger and turmeric are key ingredients for keeping colds at bay, and beets, carrots, and apples are in season this time of year! Chop up the veggies the night before you leave, so that juicing is quick & easy in the morning. Then, just grab your mason jars on the way out the door!

Chia lemonade from Whole Food Energy

Chia seeds hold up to ten times their weight in water, so they make this refreshing drink even more hydrating.

2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cups filtered water
teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Place the filtered water, maple syrup, chia seeds, and salt in a pitcher and stir well. Let the mixture thicken for about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add the juices and mix well.


Balance your blood sugar

Cookie dough balls

Now, these obviously aren’t really cookie dough. They’re made from things like cashews, pecans, coconut oil and cacao nibs so they’re incredibly healthy and my absolute favorite treat to help me feel satiated and satisfied in between meals. The only caveat is that you’ll have to do your best not to eat them all on the way to the airport!

Lemony coconut bliss balls

Most energy balls and bars feel dense and heavy, so this bright hit of citrus is a welcome (and delicious!) surprise. They’re made with cashews and dates so they’ll keep your blood sugar stable till you reach your destination!


Make your store-bought, hotel-provided, or free airline food more nutritious + delicious

If you’re traveling for multiple days or you’re using every square inch of your carry-on and purse, you might not have space for three containers full of healthy snacks. That’s okay! There are lots of stir-ins and add-ons you can pack that will make anything you buy while on the road a bit healthier and anything from the free hotel breakfast a bit more nourishing.

You can do this by:

  • Smearing almond butter onto an apple or banana you grabbed along the way
  • Sprinkling nuts and seeds on top of a plain bowl of oatmeal
  • Adding goji berries or hemp hearts to your store-bought juice
  • Dropping roasted chickpeas into your side salad for a dose of plant-based protein

Just pack a few snack-sized to go portions of these super healthy add-ins and that lackluster store-bought food will become a nutritional powerhouse!

Salted Caramel Almond Butter

I have to hide this creamy, sweet, salty nut butter from myself. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

2 cups almonds
4 pitted Medjool dates
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil (optional)

Place the almonds and salt in a food processor and process for about five minutes, making sure to scrape down the sides. The nuts will go from a crumbly consistency to a smoother one. Continue to process the nuts until they resemble a nut butter. This may take up to 10 minutes. For a creamier consistency, add a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil.

Super seed oatmeal topping from Whole Food Energy

These will make that hotel breakfast oatmeal so much healthier and more delicious!

½ cup (70 g) raw sunflower seeds
½ cup (70 g) pumpkin seeds, shelled
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Dry roast by shaking back and forth for 3–4 minutes until slightly browned. Add in the hemp seeds and flaxseeds for 30–45 seconds over low heat. Sprinkle with sea salt while still hot and mix well. Remove from the heat and cool before storing in a glass container or jar.

Spicy roasted chickpeas

These are cheap, easy, and absolutely addicting! They’re great on their own or as an addition to sad airport salads that are otherwise lacking protein.

When you’re organizing and rushing around before you leave for your trip, make sure to set aside an hour or so to prep some of these snacks and light bites for yourself (and your travel companions). Your body will thank you!

What’s your go-to travel snack? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. How to survive holiday travel with grace + aplomb

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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  1. Daisy @ Simplicity Relished

    Um, yes please to all of these!! I actually make a lot of similar recipes at home but forget to take them on the road. The almond butter idea is excellent– as long as the TSA people don’t consider it a liquid?!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I just checked and it’s recommended to put nut butters in your checked luggage 🙁 But they’d still be great for roadtrips!

      • Whitney

        Yeah definitely don’t take nut butters in your carry on luggage- especially yummy handmade ones that you’ll be sad to lose. I got a jar of jif taken once 🙁 Might be worth it to stick in your checked luggage for the other side, though!

  2. Alison

    Love these great healthy tips for traveling – especially the chia lemonade! I’ll definitely have to try out a few the next time I travel.

  3. Lisa Jordie @TheDriftingDesk

    So much of this sounds so yummy! For me, my go to is trail mix. Especially is the US, it’s easy for me to find even if I’m in a hurry.

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