20 Easy Travel Lunch Ideas For Your Next Road Trip Or Travel Day

Last updated:

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure

Fueling your road trip with delicious and easy travel lunch ideas is the secret to turning an ordinary road trip or travel day into a well-planned experience. Skip the fast food stops and overpriced, below-average greasy eats.

Instead, plan ahead with these travel lunches that are just as great for train trips, beach days or long drives as they are for planes, buses and day hikes.

From road trip lunch ideas that keep you moving to vacation lunch ideas between exploring the local attractions, these portable lunch ideas will keep you moving and keep your costs down.

cooler bag with lunch spilling out onto table.

Easy Travel Lunches: What Makes For A Good Packed Lunch?

Packing your own food for a trip or a travel day means you don’t have to spend money on meals at a fast food restaurant or rest stop.

This is a great way to save money on travel and it means you’re. more likely to choose a healthy meal and healthy snacks than if you’re buying food on the go.

Before we get to sharing the make-ahead meals for your travels, let’s cover the basics. A good on-the-road lunch for travel should be convenient and hassle-free. Here’s a summary of what makes good lunch ideas for travel:

  • Easy to Pack: Choose meals that are simple to pack in travel mugs or lunch bags. Leak-proof, portable containers help keep the food safe and clean during transport.
  • Non-Messy: Choose foods that are not messy to eat, eliminating the need for utensils or extra napkins. Finger foods and bite-sized snacks are excellent options.
  • Long Shelf Life: Avoid perishable items that can spoil quickly. Opt for foods that can withstand the journey without refrigeration (or with a basic cooler bag), ensuring they remain safe and enjoyable to eat.
  • Nutritious: Aim for a balanced meal with a mix of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins from fruits and vegetables. A nutritious lunch keeps you energized and fueled for your adventures.
  • Versatile: Select foods that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, accommodating various travel schedules without being tied to traditional meal hours.
  • Temperature: Consider the weather. Some road trip meals are fine for cooler weather but spoil quickly if it’s hot. Choose foods that can be consumed at room temperature or use insulated containers to keep them fresh.
  • Allergen-Friendly: If travelling with others, be mindful of any food allergies or dietary restrictions and pack meals that cater to those needs.
  • Tastes Great: Don’t sacrifice taste for convenience. Include foods you genuinely enjoy to make your travel lunch more enjoyable. This will make it less likely that you end up buying junk food at a gas station along the way.
  • Hydration: Don’t forget to pack plenty of water or hydrating beverages to stay refreshed and energised during your journey.
  • Sustainable Choices: To save waste and be environmentally responsible while travelling, choose reusable containers and eco-friendly packaging when packing food.

Easy Travel Lunch Ideas: Perfect For Road Trips & Day Trips

Time for the travel meal ideas. This list includes the simple favourites and some more unique travel lunches that you might not have considered before.

couple sitting on the back of their car with the boot door open eating lunch in blue bowls.

1. Sandwiches

Yeah, sandwiches are probably the first thing most of us think of when we are planning travel lunch. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a good option! Sometimes the easiest is the best option.

Create a variety of fillings such as turkey and avocado, ham and cheese, or veggie hummus wraps.

To keep sandwiches fresh, assemble them with moist ingredients in the middle to prevent sogginess, and pack them in parchment paper or beeswax wraps to avoid squishing.

2. Rice Bowls

Prep flavour-filled rice bowls with grilled chicken, teriyaki tofu, or roasted vegetables. Keep the rice and toppings separate in containers, and combine them when ready to eat to maintain the ideal texture.

3. Cupcakes and Muffins

Bake sweet or savoury muffins or cupcakes with ingredients like blueberries or chocolate chips. Store them in a sealed plastic container to prevent them from getting squashed. They are a lighter lunch option but an easy one. They also make great road trip snacks.

4. Cold Pasta Dishes

Make pasta salads with dressings and mix-ins like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, or feta cheese or enjoy cold pesto pasta.

5. Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard-boil eggs ahead of time and season them with salt and pepper for a quick and protein-packed snack. Keep them chilled with ice packs in a cooler bag to prevent spoilage.

You can wait until you’re ready to eat them to peel them but we prefer to peel them at home to avoid having to deal with messy egg shells.

6. Pizza

If you don’t mind eating pizza cold, make mini pizzas using pita bread or English muffins as the base and top them with your favourite pizza toppings. Pack them in foil to retain their warmth and avoid making a mess.

7. Mason Jar Salads

Layer fresh veggies, protein, and dressing in mason jars for a convenient and visually appealing lunch option. Keep the dressing at the bottom and the greens on top to keep the cold salads crisp and enjoyable.

family of three sitting on a picnic rug eating a large lunch of fruit and vegetables.

8. Freshly Cut Fruits and Vegetables

Slice fruits like apples, oranges, and watermelon, and cut vegetables like carrots and cucumbers into sticks for easy snacking. Store them in resealable bags or small containers to maintain their freshness.

A squeeze of lemon juice over your diced fruits can keep it fresh longer. Alternatively, keep your fruits such as apples whole to avoid them browning.

9. Wraps/Burritos

Fill wraps or burritos with your favourite fillings like grilled chicken, black beans, or roasted veggies. Wrap them in parchment paper or foil to keep them intact and mess-free.

10. Oats/Granola

Prepare overnight oats or granola bars with nuts and dried fruits for a quick and satisfying breakfast or snack. Pack them in airtight containers to prevent them from becoming stale.

11. Onigiri

Make Japanese rice balls with various fillings like tuna, tofu, or pickled plum. Wrap them in plastic wrap to maintain their shape and keep them from sticking together.

12. Bagels

Choose bagels with cream cheese, tinned salmon, or avocado and tomato slices for a delightful morning or afternoon treat. Pack them in a secure container to avoid getting squished.

13. Fresh Veggies, Crackers & Dip

Pack a selection of fresh veggies, whole-grain crackers, and your favourite dip for a healthy and satisfying snack. Keep the drop in a separate small container to prevent any mess.

14. Pita Bread

Fill pita bread with falafel, tzatziki, and veggies for a delicious Mediterranean-inspired lunch. Wrap them in foil to retain their warmth and keep them fresh.

15. Savoury Scrolls

You can easily make your own savoury scrolls with a simple 2 ingredient dough of self-raising flour and Greek yogurt. Fill your savoury scrolls with bacon pieces, olives spinach, and cheese for a delicious and fulfilling lunch.

16 Pinwheels

For a quick snack on the go, make pinwheels by rolling out tortillas with fillings like pesto cream cheese, peanut butter and banana, or vegetables. Secure the edges with toothpicks and store your pinwheels in airtight containers.

17. Toasties

Here in Australia, we tend to call a toasted sandwich a toastie (or a jaffle if you’re from NSW…apparently). You can make a lot of different fillings for toasties. Not just grilled cheese. And many of these can be enjoyed at room temperature.

18. Sausage Rolls

Prepare savoury sausage rolls with puff pastry and ground sausage filling. Bake them until golden brown, and let them cool before packing to keep their shape and flavour.

19. Pull Apart Bread

Make your own pull-apart bread with savoury fillings. Make your own or get a store-bought one for easy grazing.

20. Noodle Bowls

Prepare delicious meals of noodles with your favourite veggies, proteins, and sauces for a delicious lunch option. Pack them in leak-proof containers to prevent spills.

family sitting at a picnic table in a park eating lunch.

For more ideas, make sure you check out our complete road trip food ideas list and grab our free road trip meal planner. Even for bus and train trips, these food ideas are still totally relevant!

And for more outdoorsy travel, check out these hiking lunches too.

Printable road trip meal planner.

Travel Snack Ideas

If you’re looking for snack ideas for your plane, bus or train ride or road trip snacks, here are some simple ideas to keep you full between your meals.

  • Cookies
  • Dried fruit
  • Trail mix
  • Potato chips
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Granola bars
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Jerky
  • Protein bars
  • Fruit and nut bars
  • Energy balls
  • Crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Cookies

Tips For Preparing Travel & Road Trip Lunches

picnic basket and thermos on a red and white checked table cloth.

When it comes to planning travel lunches and road trip food ideas, it’s much easier if you choose the right options for packing food. The options you choose may differ depending on the type of trip you are taking.

Here are a few tips for preparing your make-ahead meals and how to keep them fresh during your journey:

Use Leak-Proof Containers:

Invest in high-quality, leak-proof containers to prevent any spills or messes during transit. Bento boxes and airtight Tupperware are excellent options for packing salads, sandwiches, and snacks.

The exception is if you aren’t keen to carry these with you for the duration of your travel. In this case, you might choose disposable packaging instead.

Separate Wet and Dry Ingredients:

To keep your road trip food fresh and prevent sogginess, pack wet ingredients (like salad dressing) in separate containers and add them just before eating.

Bring Along Reusable Cutlery:

Remember to pack reusable cutlery such as a fork, knife, and spoon, or even a compact travel utensil set. This way, you can enjoy your meal comfortably without relying on single-use plastics – or worse, forgetting them entirely!

Utilise Insulated Lunch Bags:

Insulated lunch bags or small cooler bags are perfect for keeping perishable items cool during hot weather or long trips. Place ice packs or frozen gel packs inside the bag to keep it at the desired temperature.

Pack Non-Perishable Snacks:

Alongside your main travel lunches, include a selection of non-perishable snacks like nuts, protein bars, granola bars, dried fruits, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and crackers. These snacks can come in handy during unexpected delays or quick hunger fixes.

Freeze Some Items in Advance:

For extended road trips, consider freezing some items in advance, like sandwiches, grapes, or yogurt cups. They can serve as makeshift ice packs and gradually thaw for a chilled and refreshing snack or meal.

Label Everything:

Label your lunch containers with names or symbols to avoid confusion if you’re travelling with others. Organise your road trip meals in the order you plan to eat them, making it easier to access the right lunch at the right time.

By following these tips for packaging and storage, including the use of ice packs when needed, you can enjoy delicious, safe, and hassle-free travel and road trip lunches.

Conclusion: Lunches For Travel Days

These are just a few of the many travel lunch ideas that will make your next road trip or day trip more enjoyable. Whether you’re looking for something simple to eat on-the-go, or want to take it up a notch with some homemade goodies, there’s something here that everyone will enjoy. Get creative and have fun planning your next meal on the go!

For More Travel Meal Ideas

pinterest image - easy tralve lunch ideas for road trips and more.