Ice cream.

For some reason COVID-19 didn't make the above list, though it has certainly changed the way we're living and traveling this summer. According to reports, road trips make up 97 percent of summer travel plans currently, and demands for RVs are surging as people are trying to get away safely. But as road trips are up, quality road fuel options are down, and the likelihood of being able to stop at restaurants is slim. So, it's important to take along plenty of smart foods that can fuel your body and feed your muscles.

First, consider getting a solid cooler. If you're going to be on the road, you'll need something that holds up on long trips and keeps cold foods cold (because food poisoning is never fun), and those Styrofoam coolers with flimsy plastic handles are not up to the job. Before our road trip this summer, we got two—the OtterBox Venture 65 Hard Cooler, for its large capacity and its ability to keep foods cold for the long haul, and the OtterBox Trooper LT 30 Soft Cooler, to keep our foods cold on the beach when we got there. As a bonus, the soft cooler doubles as a backpack, so it can be used to add solid resistance to any on-the-road bodyweight routine, such as Lean at Home in BodyFit, which is totally equipment free.

Once you have your food storage lined up, it's time to consider what to pack, and I've got you covered with seven quality fuel options that are portable and loaded with nutrition.

1. Hardboiled Eggs

Hardboiled eggs.

Love me some hardboiled eggs. With each whole egg offering 7 grams of quality protein, plus vitamins E and D and choline, among other nutrients, these should certainly be part of the road fuel. Outside of the nutrition they provide, their convenience, taste, and low cost make them a definite go-to. Since protein is satiating, they also fill you up. With the cooler in tow, you're all set to keep them chilled and fuel those muscles during the trip.

2. Pistachios

While these don't need to hang in the cooler, they're portable, filling, and loaded with the nutrition you need to keep you going. As an added bonus, they offer 6 grams of plant-based protein per serving to help fuel your body with essential amino acids and provide healthy fat—nearly 90 percent of the fats found in pistachios are the better-for-you mono and polyunsaturated types. What's more, pistachios are a good source of fiber. Add that to the protein and fat, and you've got a trio of nutrients that may help keep you feeling fuller for longer.

One of the lowest calorie, lowest fat nuts, pistachios give you more nuts per serving than most—about 49 pistachios—so you get a solid serving compared to many other nuts. They're a healthy, crave-able smart snack that you can feel good about anytime. Wonderful Pistachios No Shells are perfect road fuel. Try the Wonderful Chili Roasted variety on your next trip.

3. Beef Jerky

Packing beef jerky.

Jerky is at the top of any list of road fuels. It's portable, durable, and pretty much pure protein. With the options on the market today, beef jerky offers a nice, savory flavor to mix up your travel-snack menu. What's more, a serving provides about 15 grams of complete protein, which is a great snack option to keep those muscles flooded with the amino acids they need.

4. Kombucha

Road trips aren't just about food;you gotta stay hydrated, as well.And, well, sometimes plain old water can get boring. Often when we think we're hungry, we're actually thirsty—and when we're bored and eating, liquid may also curb that desire to eat. Including some liquid is a wise idea, and kombucha is the perfect option as it's refreshing, carbonated for a little flavor, and good for you. In our house, we're big fans of Health-Ade Kombucha, a product made in small batches in California in a variety of flavors (or plain, if that's your thing). It's better than energy drinks, soft drinks, or, well, most drinks that also contain calories. Kombucha does have a little bit of alcohol in it, and some kinds more than others, so make sure to check the alcohol level before you buy it—especially if you're driving.

5. Prunes

While these may not have been at the top of your list, there's a good reason they're on mine. Road trips and travel can leave a lot to be desired when it comes to regularity. That's not the only reason to eat prunes, though; they are a healthy snack that counts as a full serving of fruit, are shelf stable, and require no prep. A serving of 4-5 prunes packs a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Together, these nutrients support vital functions that aid overall health.

A serving of prunes has less than 100 calories and zero added sugar, and they're sodium, fat, and cholesterol free. Pack them with the pistachios for a tasty homemade trail mix. Gut effective and bone protective, prunes are a convenient and delicious way to add more fiber to your diet.

6. Carrots and Hummus

Vegetables and hummus.

You want veggies that are durable and aren't going to get squished in the cooler. Carrots fit the bill, but snap peas, celery, and cauliflower all work great, too.

The hummus gives you a little extra protein and fiber so snack time at the beach can last you longer. Our personal favorite is Lantana Siracha Carrot Hummus, but choose what you prefer. Remember, you want something that can sustain you and ideally also provide quality nutrition. Considering that the primary ingredient in hummus is usually chickpeas (or some other type of beans), it's a great source of fiber and other quality nutrition. Hummus also adds a nice flavor element to the veggies and is relatively "clean" and easy to eat, even on the road.

7. Tuna or Salmon Packets and Crackers

Commercially marketed tuna and salmon packets are great because you don't need a can opener, they're nonperishable, and they're at the top of the chart with protein and important omega-3 fats. Pair them with a solid cracker—or even a piece of fruit (sliced apple is great)—for the fuel you need to spend your day having fun on the beach.

Want more info about fitness nutrition? Check out's Foundations of Fitness Nutrition course to learn the essentials of eating right for any goal.

About the Author

Chris Mohr, Ph.D., RD

Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D.

Chris Mohr, Ph.D., RD, is an international presenter on the topic of well-being and nutrition.

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