Travel snacks: think outside the Snickers bar

BlinkPacking requires the traveler to think carefully about luggage; everything along for the trip is worn on one’s shoulders, and non-essential weight is especially burdensome after a whole day on one’s feet. Balance that with the goal of trying to keep the travel budget slim, and the hungry traveler is faced with quite the conundrum:

Should the BlinkPacker leave the bag snack-free, purchasing overpriced noshes between meals while away? Or should munchies fill the pack and dig deep grooves into the shoulders?

Each traveler will find an appropriate place on the spectrum that works for their style of travel and activity. For me, I find the right types of snacks — not only the food, but its packaging — make all the difference. Here are some tips:

Protein keeps you going
Chips and crackers will never line the belly the way proteins will, which is why we all can eat endless amounts of the latter without ever feeling satisfied. Beef jerky is low in fat, irresistibly savory, packs light, and keeps for a number of days. Try making a homemade version by purchasing thick-cut roast beef from the deli, marinate it for a few hours in the fridge, and place it in a 175 degree oven overnight. Scrump.

Almonds are also a fantastic source of protein, and all varieties — from the smoked, to the roasted, to the just plain raw — are perfectly delicious. I prefer to buy the ones in round, plastic canisters because I find the empty packaging useful for other things (like keeping wet socks separated until the next laundromat encounter, for instance).

So it’s the salty snacks you crave…
For those who prefer snacks with a little crunch, try to locate Sriracha Peas at your local farmer’s market. At one point in their lives, these zippy little numbers were vegetables, so you can feel good about the main ingredient to a degree, and the crispy, tangy, chili-limey goodness will tickle those tastebuds. I love that they come in a rigid metal can which, once emptied, can be used to hide extra cash and keys, and to protect fragile little purchases made along the way. Similarly, Corn Nuts are an abundantly satisfying snack that started their existence as a veggie. Ranch is a favorite flavor around these parts, and the weight-to-satisfaction ratio is in the BlinkPacker’s favor.

Keep it healthy
When I travel, I tend to gain weight, mostly because I can not resist the local greasy spoon, sandwich shop, or ice cream joint. So why waste calories on everyday snacks, right? A small bag of baby carrots fits the bill for the health-conscious, though they can tend to be a bit heavy. I prefer snow peas. Snappy and full of flavor, these green pods are light, pack well, and keep for a few days without refrigeration. And for those of us who get a little — er… ‘backed up’ when we travel, a little green fiber can keep the trip flowing, if you know what I mean.

Satisfy that sweet tooth
What is it about travel that makes us crave sugar? While the philosophers search for answers to that question, I will only offer a bit of humble advice. Keep the pack weight and your calorie intake down by taking along only small quantities of sweets. Hard candies are great because they last longer than the chewy ones, and they can help pop the old ears when your car, train, plane, or bus heads for an altitude change. Haribo gummy bears are heavy, do not pack particularly well, and have zero redeeming health qualities, but they are such a fantastic snack that they occasionally find it into the pack anyway.

What are some of your favorite trips for travel? Any that you think would work particularly well in a BlinkPacking setting, where luggage space is at a premium?

8 thoughts on “Travel snacks: think outside the Snickers bar

  1. You’re reading my mind man — jerky is great (and something I’ve noticed that I ONLY eat on trips), almonds, carrots, all great. I would add my vote in for trail mix as well. Grapes are handy too, but a little more problematic.

    And I couldn’t agree more about the gummy bears. Of no redeeming value, but they are so great.

  2. Love this post. I have trouble finding fresh snacks that will last an 18-24 hour bus ride. Too much packaged food tends to disagree with my belly ! I’m a fan of plain corn chips, salami & cheese on wholegrain crackers and apples.

    • Hi Kelly. Fresh snacks can be tough for sure. Have you tried drying your own snacks? The beef (or turkey, or maybe salami?) jerky trick mentioned above is downright awesome. I know some folks who bought a dehydrator to dry their own fruits and veggies. I have heard you can also dry produce in a low-temp oven. Perhaps that would help?

      Sometimes, I also get the hardest pears I can find. By the time I am hungry for them, usually 12 hours into the bus trip, they are ready to roll.

      Best of luck with the snack conundrum, and happy travels. -Josh

  3. Since abandoning the less healthy part of my family for my road trip, I’ve been eating plain almonds, carrots, trail mix and dried cherries – and it feels so much better than just eating junk food. Great post on what to bring on trips! Thanks blinkpack 🙂

    • Dried cherries — fantastic idea! I love it. Going to have to try it out this weekend (headed up to Virginia and the Carolinas for some roller coaster adventures). Cheers!

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