Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

Airplane-friendly, healthy snacks a must for summer travel

As summer draws closer, many of us will be increasing air travel to various locations.  Whether to visit friends, family or for business trips, staying well nourished will help us lower stress, boost immunity and overall keep us more positive.  If you prepare ahead of time and pack the right travel snacks, it can help make airplane trips more positive for you and your traveling partners.  And, you know, if you are flying with children, keeping them on a routine eating schedule with preferred foods and drinks will help reduce crankiness en route.

Since you can never guarantee that your favorite granola bar will be available at the airport terminal and the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables varies widely from airport to airport, make up your own list of convenient, transportable and nutritious snacks and drinks to bring with you.  Remember, the only fluids allowed through the airport screening process are those you specifically need for young children, such as breast milk, baby formula and juice boxes.  Any other fluids, including drinks for yourself will have to be purchased once you pass through the screening process.

Another thing to keep in mind is airport delays.  Make sure you have planned for the unplanned.  If your plane is delayed, you will want to have the proper nourishment available for you or your family.  Luckily, most airports (and some airplanes) offer increasing amounts of nutritious foods and drinks that most of us would be happy to consume.  However, sometimes the price of these items is up to double the normal cost – so budget-wise, you are often better off bringing food snacks with you.  And, if you are delayed while trapped on the airplane, you will not have access to much extra food (aside from pretzels, the drink cart and purchasable food trays).

Consider yours and your family’s dietary needs.  If you have dietary restrictions or will be traveling with individuals who are only comfortable with certain types or brands of foods, bring enough well-balanced snacks to meet everyone’s needs over the course of your travel time.

Remember, staying hydrated is crucial while travelling, so purchase healthy beverages once you pass through the security screen, such as water, sparkling water and milk (or milk alternatives).  Be mindful of juice, since it can contain a lot of sugar and calories.  Select 100% juice (so all the sugars are natural) and keep servings to no more than 4-6oz for children.  Water it down to increase fluid volume and lessen the sugar intake.

Here are some ideas for portable, airport-friendly non-fluid, non-refrigerated snacks:

  • Raw almonds or other tree nuts.  Try to avoid peanuts on the airplane to be courteous to passengers who may have peanut allergies.
  • Washed apples, bananas or grapes.  Use plastic containers for soft fruit to prevent bruising.
  • Baggies of baby carrots or other raw finger-friendly veggies
  • Beef jerky.  Look for lower sodium, natural or organic versions
  • Seitan jerky (meatless jerky made of wheat gluten)
  • Baggies of whole grain cereal (i.e. Puffins, Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits – kids love the Island Vanilla flavor)
  • Adult whole grain granola bars (i.e. Kashi, Odwalla, Clif, Luna)
  • Kids whole grain granola bars (i.e. Clif Z Bar)
  • Whole food bars that contain combinations of dried fruit and nuts (i.e. LaraBar)
  • Toddler finger foods (i.e. Happy Baby Organic Puffs and Yogurt Melts, Cheerios)
  • Single serve packs or baggies of dried or freeze dried fruit (i.e. Raisins, banana chips, freeze dried mango slices, natural fruit leathers)

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