There’s a lot about traveling via plane that is out of your control; noise, delays, crowds, etc. But there’s also a lot you can control, and the foods you eat and how you choose to nourish yourself can make a big difference in how you feel throughout your travels. So let’s get into some tips, and some of my favorite foods to bring with me when flying!
Why bring your own food when flying?
Food and nutrition play a major role in how we feel physically and mentally at all times, so being mindful of what you eat is always going to be influential to your well-being. And I don’t know about you, but I usually feel a little gross after traveling – especially via plane and for longer travel days. Being fully in control over what you’re eating while traveling can be super helpful to feeling as good as possible under the circumstances. It’s about setting yourself up for success and supporting how you want to feel; you’re in control!
You might also choose to bring your own food if you’re trying to stick to certain health goals or eat healthier. And if you’re like me and have food restrictions (dairy and gluten free), options are limited when out and about, so packing food I know I can eat ensures I’ll have well balanced meals that will be filling and nourishing. Sometimes it’s out of necessity, and sometimes simply by choice.
What’s allowed through TSA and what’s not
The gist of what you need to know: nothing liquid (or if so, it needs to be less than or equal to 3.4oz/100 ml). Any food you bring needs to be able to keep its shape when outside of a container. Everything else? Pretty much fair game! So really, there’s a lot of freedom here to pack foods that will support you feeling your best.
If you want to get the full details, check out the TSA website here.
Inspiration for what to bring
It’s best to stick to things that won’t be squashed easily and will stay good outside of a refrigerator for a while. But you can always bring anything in a rigid container if you have room, to keep the food from getting squished (especially for soft fruits!).
- Sliced cucumber
- Sliced and steamed veggies, such as sweet potato, winter squash, beets, or even broccoli
- Avocado (I like to precut one in half, so I can eat half at a time with a spoon)
- Berries (these do best in a jar so they don’t get squished)
- Apple (whole, or pre-sliced so you can eat a bit at a time)
- Tangerines or oranges
- Coconut chips
- Chips (potato, cassava, sweet potato, tortilla, etc.)
- Crispy chickpea or bean snacks (like these, or these!)
- Bars or homemade energy balls
- Nut butter travel packets
- Nuts/trail mix
- Jerky or other dehydrated meat snacks (such as Epic Provisions, or Chomps)
Depending on how long you’ll be traveling and what time of day, you might want to consider bringing a full meal in addition to snacks.
- Breakfast burrito or sandwich (which can be easily wrapped up or put into a container)
- Oatmeal. You can bring dry ingredients and ask for hot water from a coffee stand to make your oatmeal when you’re ready. Or you can also premake your oatmeal (which is what I like to do) and bring it in a container. If premaking it, there is a chance it will be taken away so it could be a gamble, but I’ve found that it’s been safe for me if I make it as solid and as less liquid-y as possible.
- Breakfast items in a container (options are endless! Such as sweet potato/potato, eggs, bacon, veggies, etc.)
- Options are endless here! Obviously no soups or anything liquid, but otherwise you can pretty much bring any meal. You can home make your meals and bring them in containers, or pick up your favorite healthy takeout before arriving at the airport. Here are some easy ideas for homemade meals:
- Burrito, sandwich, or wrap
- Baked sweet potato, quinoa or rice with meat, veggies, and greens
- On my recent travels, my two meals I made and brought were:
- Rice, ground pork, sautéed broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy, topped with coconut aminos, green onion and sesame seeds
- Baked sweet potato, chicken sausage, sautéed zucchini and bell pepper, fresh greens, and cucumber
- Collagen or protein powder travel packs (for putting into oatmeal or warm drinks)
- Wellness and hydration packets (Such as these or these. Or look around at your local health foods store!)
Tips and tricks
- Be mindful of others. Don’t pack anything too stinky! Probably best to leave the sardines at home 😉
- Always pack protein. Whether in the form of fresh or dehydrated animal protein, or vegan options such as nuts, seeds, tempeh/tofu, etc. Having plenty of protein will help keep blood sugar levels balanced, and allow you to feel satiated and full for longer.
- Fresh foods make a difference. Having access to some fresh fruits and veggies helps so much in avoiding that “gross” feeling when traveling or when you’re just eating snack foods all day (you know what I’m talking about).
- Food containers: What containers you bring will depend on what you have room for, and if you’re able to keep reusable items during your whole trip or not. For bags, I always love my reusable Stasher bags which are small and lightweight. For jars, you can bring any sizes of mason jars, or reuse other food jars such as from salsa and recycle them after if needed. We’ve also collected some of these plastic food containers (from ordering Thai food takeout), which can be brought home or recycled if needed. I always use glass containers at home, but these can be heavy when traveling and you’d have to carry it around your whole trip!
- Ice packs: You can bring ice packs or frozen water bottles (which can be kept or recycled after use) through airport security, but they have to be frozen SOLID, so plan accordingly. You could travel with a cooler bag as a carry-on item, or just place your ice pack in a plastic or silicone bag in your backpack so it doesn’t get any items wet.
- Reusable water bottles & travel mugs: You can bring these into the airport empty, and fill once in the airport. I always travel with my reusable water bottle (let’s be real, it goes everywhere with me all the time, every day). And if you want to make your own tea, instant coffee, etc. you can grab some hot water from a coffee stand!
Are you feeling empowered to take control over how you feel? It does take a little bit of planning ahead of time to purchase, make, or pick up food before your travels, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember – you choose what’s important to you, and how you spend your time is a reflection of that.
As with anything, it might take a little experimentation to see what works best for you and what you like, so have fun with it! Don’t be afraid to observe and take inspiration from others.