With its delays, tight quarters, stale air, turbulence and quirky seatmates, airplane travel can make a person pretty darn cranky. While you can't control most of this, you can take charge of what you eat.
Whether I'm flying two or 22 hours, I always tote a healthy (and enviable) snack pack instead of relying on the overpriced crap offered at airports and on planes. Doing so ensures I never go hungry or suffer from tummy troubles, sluggish digestion, headaches, energy crashes or mood swings courtesy of low-quality foods.
(I once sat next to an oncologist who commented on my healthy fare as he opened a McDonald's bag. I should have handed him my card!)
Travel Snack Pack Tips
When assembling my snack pack, I follow three simple guidelines:
- Healthy: For all the reasons stated above.
- Non-perishable: Naturally, for flights longer than an hour or two, you don't want to pack foods that will quickly go bad such as deli meats or mayo-based salads.
- Easy: Getting out the door to catch a flight is always a mad scramble. Only include foods that are fast and easy to prep and pack.
My Go-To Flight Foods
Sandwiches (made with firm whole- or sprouted-grain bread or English muffins):
- Nut butter (e.g., almond, walnut, cashew, pecan, peanut, etc.) with low-sugar jam (long-lasting, these are perfect for international travel)
- Avocado with cucumber, carrots, sprouts and sunflower seeds
- Hummus with raw or roasted veggies
Fruit: Sturdy produce, such as apples, pears, oranges, bananas and grapes hold up best. Prep and bag juicy and soft fruits, like oranges or peaches, at home if you want to avoid making a mess on the plane. If the prepped fruit produces a lot of juice, you may need to drain it before going through security or put it in your carry-on liquids bag. You could also easily grab a fruit salad at your local market, as long as it's not watery or security will nab it (or try draining it before going through security).
Veggies: Nothing is simpler than a bag of baby carrots. Sliced cucumber is very refreshing. Raw veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and bell pepper can be purchased precut if pressed for time.
Nuts: Unsalted, raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc. are nutritious nibbles. Avoid salty snacks (too dehydrating) and trail mixes loaded with high-sugar dried fruit or chocolate.
Cracker Combos: Whole-grain crackers with nut butter, hard cheese or avocado. I also love pairing almond butter with apple. I always stash a few packets of single-serving nut butters or hummus in my carry-on liquids bag for consumption on the plane or during my trip. (Note: You cannot take a jar of nut butter or container of hummus through security.)
Leftovers: Rather than toss leftovers before I depart, I pack them to go. Grain salads with beans, nuts and veggies as well as veggie side dishes like sautéed kale or Swiss chard with chopped nuts or seeds hold up well. Of course, you can't take liquids like soup.
Energy Bars: For long, international flights, I pack a few low-sugar, high protein energy bars for the return trip home or stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere emergencies.
Protein Powders or Green Drink Mixes: For a quick boost, mix with water in your water bottle.
Extras: Small cooler bag, bamboo silverware set, napkins, and an empty water bottle for filling at a post-security airport fountain. (Air travel is extremely dehydrating thus it's important to consume lots of water, fruits and veggies.)
With just a wee bit of effort, you can ensure you arrive at your destination happy, healthy and well-fed.