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Though it may not seem like it to those who have experienced disasters with their snacks while traveling, there are some snacks that travel well. Understanding the nature of the food and the situation that you will face can go a long way in making sure the most appropriate snacks are chosen. If done wisely food on the go can be kept preserved, neat and tasty.
There are two main types of foods to avoid or for which special concessions need to be made when considering snacks that travel well. Foods easily melted and foods requiring refrigeration often do not make good options when traveling. These foods could easily spoil or become very messy and less enjoyable.
For snacks that travel well, stick to items that are easily accessible and do not spoil when not kept in chilled conditions. For example, taking a can of fruit may make for a healthy snack, but depending on the can it may not be easily opened on the road. If it is in a can, making sure it is a pull tab provides a good solution.
In many cases, fruit comes in single serving containers that have a plastic covering and an adhesive to seal the covering to the container. Often, as long as these are not opened, they require no refrigeration, though if they get too hot, they will not be very refreshing snacks. Typically, they are meant to be enjoyed at room temperature or just below room temperature. Taking along some plastic eating utensils make these very convenient snacks that travel well.
Other snacks that travel well may be found in the aisle in the grocery store labeled either as snacks or chips. Foods that are often chosen for these aisles include chips, prepackaged popcorn that has already been popped, and snack crackers. Some of these crackers may be flavored and include a cheese dip. However, even these snacks have their drawbacks. The crumbs they produce can often create a messy environment.
For those who wish to have colder foods or the option of foods subject to melting, such as chocolate, dairy products and other foods capable of spoiling quickly, an ice chest is a must. Some "ice chests" are actually powered by electricity, thus becoming more portable refrigerators than true ice chests. These chests can often be plugged right into a cigarette lighter, if traveling by automobile. If using this equipment, it can greatly expand the list of snacks that travel well.
In some cases, if the temperature is not expected to be that hot, the list of snacks that travel well can also be expanded. For example, many chocolates are capable of maintaining an acceptable consistency at room temperatures. However, if the temperature rises too much, things can quickly become messy. This is especially true if the consumer is a child.
@browncoat - My dad had us hooked on his homemade jerky, so we'd usually eat that on long car journeys. He always joked that the best thing about it was that it was very chewy so it kept our mouths busy so we weren't constantly talking and fighting in the car.
For long journeys across country it would last better than carrot sticks and cheese, although I suppose you could just get more carrots every night at a supermarket.
@Fa5t3r - Likewise, if you are traveling with kids in a car, the last thing you want to do is feed them the kind of snacks that would have done you good on a trip like that. Sugar and light carbs and processed food in general are just going to give them lots of energy for a while and then make them grumpy.
You're better off with easy, healthy snacks like peanut butter and carrot sticks and cheese that are going to take longer to digest and not hit their blood stream with a rush.
You have to take into consideration the nature of the trip as well as the longevity of the snacks. If you're traveling under your own power (by bike or walking or whatever) you are going to want to carefully plan out what kind of food you eat. The bigger the trip, the more important this becomes and it takes real research, not just guesswork.
I once did a very long bike ride with a friend through a hot, dry area and I thought I was being extremely clever packing boiled eggs and sardines and bread rolls for us to eat on the way.
What I didn't take into account was that we were extremely thirsty, we needed to replace electrolytes
and energy and we didn't need heavy protein packed snacks to weigh us down.
It wasn't the worst thing that happened on that trip, because we were young and completely unprepared, but it definitely didn't help and for a long time I only had to hear someone mention sardines and I would feel ill.
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