"How much longer till we get there?" my son asked.
"Let’s see… we have about six hours left," my wife replied to our five-year-old while also trying to quiet our two-year-old son.
With all the commotion behind me and the tension rising, I knew it was time.
"Who wants a snack?!" I asked, grinning at the excited faces that met me in the rearview mirror.
Once everyone got their snacks, a sense of calm filled the car, and we went back to enjoying the views of our family road trip.
When it comes to road trips I love a good snack, and I'm willing to argue—and even bet that any parent will back me up—that the snack list is on par with the importance of the destination.
Kids or not, having enough snacks—and the right snacks—on a trip is an essential part of any successful adventure. Not only will they keep your kids (or your friends) settled, they also connect the dots to a lifetime of nostalgia by locking in memory with taste.
Think about it: Memories can be automatically triggered when your senses are activated. Consider how smell, taste, or sight takes you right back. Sure, road tripping is certain to be filled with spectacular views, but when you’re enjoying the views with a treat, you’re igniting those memories with taste, smell, and sight. As you dip your arm into that bag of chips or bite into that peanut butter cracker sandwich, you could be instantly flooded with the memories of you and your family on a trip to the Rocky Mountains or a trip up the East Coast when the leaves are changing.
The right snack is so much more than a tasty treat and tummy filler. It's a way to remember the good times—and that's exactly what my family and I set out to do on our latest road trip across the beautiful Pacific North West.
On our twenty-hour road trip, it was my wife's job to plan the stops and my job to pack the snacks. Not only did I successfully pack the car cooler, but I also prepared for a gourmet-style picnic to accompany the five-star views along the way. To make sure your next road trip is a success, here are some snack tips to keep the good times rolling:
1. Pack more snacks than you think you'll need
At first, you may think this step isn't that important, but trust me—it is! Plan for the long haul. Overdo it when you buy easy, accessible snacks, and when you think you have enough, buy more. Ensure you have a wide variety of options, too. I'll admit, I missed this step when preparing for our trip and paid the price—and not just the cost of more expensive gas station snacks!
2. Bring a cooler for cold/fresh snacks
My family loves packaged snacks as much as the next, but it’s common to crave something fresh after a while. Pack a cooler so your family can enjoy some fruit, yogurt, or whatever you're into while on the road. Our kids loved being able to snack on blueberries and tasty yogurt.
3. Pack nonperishables in a basket
Now, as much as my family and I love road trips and being in the car together, getting out to explore new locations is how you create memories. Whenever we can, we like to pack up our snacks into a basket, walk out to a viewpoint, and enjoy a family picnic. These little moments have become our favorite way to break up a long road trip.
Pro tip: When you stop to get gas, go the extra mile to stop at any small-town market to enjoy a new experience and supplement your gourmet picnic! This kind of shopping shouldn’t be confused with the ready-packed snacks you need to pack before your trip.
Road trips are fun, and making memories with your family is always great. But when you prepare beforehand, you leave the hangry feelings at home!
Our family trip was so full of scenic views and laughs, and of course full bellies. These are the kinds of excursions that keep my family excited for all adventures to come.
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