Top Tips for Packing Healthy Travel Snacks

Last updated November 3, 2023

Packing your own food for the airport might sound tedious, so why should you bother bringing your own when there are so many other food options there at the airport?

There are many benefits to packing your own food. For starters, it saves you time when you’re at the airport. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been running late for a flight and don’t have time to stop for anything.

Second, it’s a lot cheaper to bring your own food instead of paying for the overpriced everything at the airport newsstands and restaurants. And don’t depend on in-flight options as they’re usually limited in options and availability.

Most importantly, it can be difficult to find healthy food on the go. When you bring your own, you don’t have to worry about what offerings are available at the airport.

Ready to get packing? Here are some (TSA-approved) healthy snack ideas for traveling including tips and packing options to nourish you during an upcoming trip.

Healthy Travel Snack List

While this list may sound extensive, there is a shortcut tip I’ll share that makes it easy for me to pack my own healthy travel snacks before a flight. In general, I keep a large gallon-sized bag of the non-perishables listed below always fresh and ready to go. 

Suggested Healthy Snack Items:

  • Raw (or sprouted) unsalted nuts: cashews, almonds, walnuts, brazil, peanuts
  • Raw (or sprouted) seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, watermelon, hemp, flax
  • Whole fruits: apples, blueberries, oranges (recommended to peel prior), cherries, plums, nectarines; Store, or pack carefully bananas, grapes, melon, strawberries
  • Dried fruits: dates, goji berries, apricots, coconut
  • Nut butters: individual packets of peanut, almond and cashew
  • Oatmeal packets (bring your own cup and spoon)
  • Nutrition bars: recommended raw, unprocessed, real fruit, natural ingredients
  • Protein powders: easily mix into water for a drink, or create into a paste
  • Cut vegetables: carrots, celery, zucchini, cherry tomatoes work well
  • Baked root vegetables: butternut, or acorn, squash, sweet potatoes
  • Wraps (for sandwiches, or pairing with nut butters)
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Trail mix (find ones that combine the above ingredients of dried fruit, seeds and nuts)

Note: Snack on nuts, trail mix and dried fruit in moderation. Eating a few handfuls can quickly add up to quite a few calories unintentionally. For perishables, I cook or prep the night before so I don’t need to pack it the day of. Plus, it’s a great way to ensure any leftover food in the home doesn’t go to waste.

Tips for Packing Healthy Travel Snacks

Packing and traveling with food can get messy. Here are three recommendations for storing your food so it doesn’t end up in a puddle in lower corner of your carry-on. 

  1. Stasher (or other sealable, reusable storage bag)
  2. Compact and air-tight containers
  3. As a last resort, plastic baggies but please wash and reuse these whenever possible

You could also go the old-fashioned route of bringing a lunch box. There are many stylish, eco-friendly options out there like this one from my friends at Senda Essentials. Whatever you’re packing, it goes without saying to bring your own reusable or recyclable water bottle and utensils.

What to Avoid 

Be kind to your fellow travelers. Remember, just because you like the taste of something doesn’t mean they want to be at the mercy to smell what you’re eating. Some of the foods I recommend to avoid include: 

  1. Fish, especially tuna
  2. Hard boiled eggs (smells going in, and can smell worse going…well, you get the picture)
  3. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage (for the same reasons as eggs)
  4. Cheesy puffs or chips
  5. Bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches
  6. Chinese food
  7. Hard cheeses

Don’t be the stinky traveler. Be kind to your fellow passengers with your choice of foods. Karma counts in the skies too.

Example Meal Plan

While anything goes combining the above mentioned foods, here’s a few sample meals to get you started for meal planning: 

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal, hemp, flax seeds & banana
  • Snack 1: Apple & nut butter
  • Lunch: Hummus, veggie & avocado wrap
  • Snack 2: Nutrition bar & grapes
  • Dinner: Sweet potato, avocado & roasted chickpeas

These options are vegan-based but that doesn’t mean you can’t add in a slice of roasted turkey or chicken in place of the hummus or chickpeas, if you prefer.

Hopefully, these healthy travel snack ideas give you some inspiration and tips to pack your own nourishing treats before your next flight. Safe travels!

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