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The 10 Best Snacks For Holiday Travel

Preparing to travel this holiday season? You'll need these snacks on hand.

As record numbers of us prepare for holiday travel, many of us are on our way to celebrate with a flurry of festive feasting. But while we're destined for tables laden with family favorites, potluck staples, and fancy hors d'oeuvres, the airlines, interstates, and Amtraks we'll take to get there may not offer the necessary provisions along the way.

As I get ready to fly across the country, I'm definitely planning to stuff my carry-on bag with my own fortifying treats. With more lead time required at the airport, longer security lines, and skimpier (or nonexistent) airline meals, no one wants to arrive at their destination feeling like the Grinch. Here are 10 ideal snacks to tide you over on your flight, road trip, or train journey.

Hillshire Snacking Small Plates 

(Available at Target, approx. $3.50 for 2.76 oz.)

Pregame for party season with Hillshire Snacking Small Plates and Bistro Bites, adorable charcuterie-style boxes that are essentially mini versions of the spreads that adorn our holiday fêtes. With varieties like Italian Hot Calabrese Salame with Natural Gouda and Toasted Rounds and Wine-Infused Salame with White Cheddar Cheese and Salted Almonds, and everything packaged in individual compartments, they definitely feel like adult Lunchables.

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Buying these compact trays is significantly cheaper than the in-flight equivalent, and though they're found in the refrigerator section, the cured meats and sturdy cheeses can probably withstand a few hours at room temp, waiting for your next rest stop or until you reach 30,000 feet, watching Elf and sipping your complimentary ginger ale or (non-complimentary) gin and tonic. And don't worry: they're TSA-approved.

Pearls Olives to Go! 

(available at Target, $4.99 for a 4-pack of 1.2-oz. cups)

I'll eat olives anytime, anywhere—and Pearl offers the chance to do so with its perfectly packaged portions of Olives to Go! What better way to pump up your travel charcuterie situation than with an individual serving of these pleasingly briny bites? Available in Pitted Large Ripe Black, Sliced, and Pimiento varieties, these little beauties come in applesauce-style cups, ready to pop open for salty satisfaction.

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While they may not curb your hunger completely, you also won't be too full to enjoy the holiday treats you're traveling toward. They are non-GMO, 100% California grown, and do not contain liquid, so they're fine for flying. Eat them on their own or sprinkle them on your bland airport sandwich. They also contain no major food allergens.

KIND Bars

(available on Amazon, prices vary by product)

KIND Bars have truly been kind to me when the munchies strike. A staple in my backpack or purse for anytime snacking, they have a sweet-and-salty balance that really satiates, and they have saved me on the go between meals countless times. Their crunchy texture, silky coating, and gooey clusters of toasted whole nuts and seeds make them so much more appealing than other energy bars.

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The bars are 59% nuts, gluten-free, low in sodium, high in fiber, and have a low glycemic index, and no genetically engineered ingredients or trans fat. Two of my favorite flavors include Dark Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt and Caramel, Almond & Sea Salt—the salty element really adds some dimension to the snacking experience. If you need a smaller bite, Kind also offers Thins and Minis. It's a treat worthy of tucking into the holiday stockings.

Henrietta Said Peanuts 

(available on Amazon, $22.99 for a 4-pack of 5-oz. bags)

Recently launched, the women-owned brand Henrietta Said sells its peanuts in four punchy flavors: Original Buffalo, Nashville Hot Chicken, Ancho Kimchi, and Lemon Pepper. Break up the travel monotony with the tingly zing of these super XL Virginia peanuts, packaged for sharing.

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They're gluten-free, keto-friendly, vegan, kosher, and sugar-free, with 2 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein to take the edge off until you reach the next drive-thru. I cannot resist a spicy snack, particularly anything buffalo-sauced, and Henrietta Says provides that alluring hint of heat, with a salty, tangy flavor like Frank's RedHot dusting these super-fresh peanuts.

The Ancho Kimchi peanuts won the Most Innovative New Product Award for Best Savory Snack at Sweets & Snacks Expo 2023. And the unique Nashville Hot Chicken variety not only captures the essence of the famous hot-sauce-soaked bird, but the vinegary pickle seasoning, too. Take them on the road, or serve them on your NYE spread so folks can gobble handfuls with their glasses of bubbly.

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(Note: peanuts might not be best suited for public transit, in case neighboring travelers have acute peanut allergies.)

Wilde Protein Chips 

(available at Target, $8.99 for a 4-pack of 1.34-oz. bags) 

Chips are the perfect travel snack, apart from one thing: they rarely leave you feeling full. Enter Wilde, an innovative development in chip technology that adds protein to the crispy, salty goodness of America's favorite snack. Intriguingly, Wilde has engineered these chips from antibiotic-free chicken breasts, egg whites, and chicken bone broth. Looking vaguely like flat-ish Pringles, the chips have a faint meaty taste, which lends a depth of flavor that is actually surprisingly delicious.

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Wilde chips do lean toward the saltier side, so I would definitely recommend hydrating while you house them (a good idea when you travel, anyway). But a serving also contains an impressive 13 grams of protein, making you feel more sated than you would with other chips. Flavors include Barbeque, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Chicken & Waffles, Buffalo, and the new Spicy Queso. Wilde Chips are gluten-free.

Chomps 

(Available on Amazon, prices vary by product)

In the realm of protein-rich snacks, Chomps are another standout. My love of jerky runs deep; its smoky savoriness and variety of forms (pouches, strips, sticks) calls to me from every Hudson News I pass in the airport. My friend and I once took a road trip across the Northwest almost entirely fueled by grabbing local jerky from rural country stores along the way. Chomps' line of meat sticks are a satisfying way to relive those delectable memories of the open road, belting tunes while nibbling spicy bites.

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Chomps are filler-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free, allergy-friendly, low-carb, and packed with 9-10 grams of protein per serving. They last for ages, pack easily, and come in a compelling array of flavors that includes Jalapeño Beef, Original Free-Range Turkey, and Salt and Pepper Venison. The brand continues to expand its roster, recently adding new hot Habañero and zesty Taco Seasoned Beef, featuring grass-fed, non-GMO meat. I'll be taking a bundle with me on my way this holiday season—and if I don't eat them myself, I may wrap them for my family for future snacking.

Trader Joe’s Fruit Bars 

(available at Trader Joe's, $0.99 for each 1.06-oz. bar or available on Amazon)

Trader Joe's has a positively plentiful catalog of excellent snack options, so I've selected a few go-to options for this list. While I don't have a huge sweet tooth, I often find myself reaching for these Trader Joe's Fruit Bars to add to my snack bag for a trip. There is something so nostalgic about their fruit-leather-like texture, with no artificial colors or flavorings. Indeed, these bars are simply made of their stated ingredients: Apple & Mango (apples and mangoes), Apple & Strawberry (apples & strawberries), etc.

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The bars are vegan and small enough to slip into your pocket, providing 3 grams of fiber each. They are also exceptionally tasty: tart, full-flavored, and fruity. If your energy's lagging on the next leg of your journey, TJ's Fruit Bars will give you the little natural sugar boost you need.

Trader Joe’s Spicy Tempura Seaweed Snacks 

(available at Trader Joe's, $3.29 for 2.1 oz.)

For a more savory Trader Joe's specialty, check out the Spicy Tempura Seaweed Snacks. Relatively new to the TJ's scene, the chips, made in Thailand, have been an instant hit. Snag a bright yellow bag of these crispy squares of nori, battered with a lightly spicy tempura coating seasoned with togarashi (sugar, chili pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper). They shatter satisfyingly with each bite, and the lightweight package will be easy to include in your snack stash. Your travel buddies will be so pleased to share these flavorful morsels, if you don't keep them for yourself.

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Trader Joe’s Avocado’s Number Guacamole to Go

(available at Trader Joe's, $4.49 for 6 2-oz. packs)

Speaking of sharing, it's hard not to hoard the guacamole. Notorious for its status as an upcharge, this delicious slurry of green gold is rightfully coveted, so it's a delight to have your own personal helping. Trader Joe's offers a solution: Avocado's Number Guacamole to Go. These little individual pots of mashed hass avocado taste fresh and contain very few ingredients, including distilled vinegar, water, jalapenos, salt, dehydrated onion, and granulated garlic. I like to plus mine up with TJ's Habañero Hot Sauce and chopped cilantro. But on the go, I'd suggest putting those extra Taco Bell Fire Sauce packets to use (did you know you can now recycle the empties?), and packing a baggie of Mi Niña Jalapeño Agave tortilla chips. Avocado's Number Guacamole is perishable, but I think it's well worth it to pack it on ice and take it on the road.

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Lance’s Sandwich Crackers 

(available on Amazon, $20.89 for 36 1.3-oz. packages)

My grandmother and grandfather (nicknamed Mingy and GeeGee by me as a toddler) would never take their annual road trip from New England to Florida without a box full of Lance's Sandwich Crackers. The buttery crackers surround fillings that each have a distinct, somewhat powdery texture (whether it's cheddar, peanut butter, or cream cheese and chive), and they can sometimes crumble if they get bumped around in your bag. But I just love them.

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These are not exactly a lunch substitute, but my Mingy and GeeGee would eat them in lieu of a midday meal to avoid stopping the car. I relish a rest stop, but I still stick a packet or two in my bag when I travel, to honor one of our many tasty family traditions.

Holiday Bonus: Trader Joe’s Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars 

(available at Trader Joe's, $3.99 for 10 oz.)

I recently went to a lovely holiday party where the hosts served shaken-to-order espresso martinis with Trader Joe's charming, chocolatey, nonpareil-sprinkled stars. When I popped one into my mouth, a wave of familiarity washed over me: they taste uncannily like Girl Scouts Thin Mints cookies! A delicate chocolate layer enrobes a rich, minty chocolate shortbread cookie, 13 of which comprise a single serving. Trader Joe's only sells these treasures seasonally (kind of like the Thin Mints they resemble), so make sure to grab a box for your travels, and share them at your destination if they make it that far.

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