Updated June 16, 2022.
Truth: Airport food is expensive!
The solution? Take your own food.
Truth: TSA has a lot of rules about what you can bring with you into the airport.
The solution? This list! I’ve come up with the ultimate list of the best foods to take with you in-flight. These foods can pass through TSA without issue, will save you money over airport food, and won’t offend your fellow travelers. What’s your favorite snack to pack?
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Keep eating on my World Foods Page!
What is a Good Airplane Snack?
When choosing an airplane snack (or meal), there are some important things to consider:
- Will it hold up for a few hours? You don’t want to go to the trouble of packing something delightful only for it to turn out smushed before you can eat it!
- Will it leak? You definitely don’t want your food to get all over the rest of your carry-on items.
- Will it go bad without refrigeration? Don’t let your own food make you sick or become inedible!
- Is it smelly? Airplanes are smell, enclosed spaces—even the full-sized jets. So smells will absolutely linger, and everyone will smell them! Practice a little kindness, and don’t bring strong-smelling foods.
- Will it keep you full? You don’t want to eat all the food you brought with you and still be hungry an hour later!
Here is your list of travel-friendly foods to fit the guidelines above and according to how much preparation work they require.
Fun food: The Most Exotic Foods of the World
There’s something to be said for convenience! Grab-and-go options that are already pre-packaged can be just the thing for a “just in case” snack on a short flight.
Nutrition bars have come a long way from the cardboard-flavored bars of yesteryear. Choose some that pack the protein, the fiber, and most importantly the flavor that will satisfy you for a while!
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Protein makes me feel full longer than anything else does, and these days jerky is available from every animal and in ever flavor imaginable. This is an easy way to make sure you stay full and satisfied through potential delays, long-haul flights, and waiting around at the gate!
Keep reading: How to Plan a Trip (step by step!)
A little fat can also go a long way in keeping you full longer, and trail mixes can give you a boost of protein, fat, and fiber! Here are my top picks:
Keep reading: How to Pack the Perfect Carry-on
Peanut Butter and Crackers
Is there anything better than peanut butter? I haven’t found it yet! Just make sure you get the packets and don’t try to bring a whole jar of peanut butter with you. It’s considered a liquid!
Keep reading: The Top 9 Habits of Successful Travels
Minimal Food Prep
Just a little preparation goes a long way. I love pre-packaged convenience, but sometimes I want something fresh. And it’s really not as much trouble as you might think!
Fruits and Veggies
All you have to do here is wash and possibly cut your favorite fruits and veggies. Some of my favorite travel-ready fruits are apples, oranges (use a knife at home to help you peel it later), grapes, strawberries, and blueberries. Bananas sometimes look like a liquid inside the X-ray machines at security, so you may have to take them out after screening if the TSA agent wants clarification. Cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, cucumber slices, baby carrots, and snow peas are all very travel friendly veggies!
*Note: If you’re traveling internationally, make sure to finish your fruits and vegetables before you land, as many countries (and the State of Hawaii) do not allow outside fruit and vegetables in because of their delicate ecosystems or other policies.
If you’re going on a trip, those leftovers won’t be any good by the time you get home! Take them with you to eat on the flight!
One of the less convenient parts of traveling with your own food is containing it. Regular food containers can be bulky, and sandwich bags often only last through one or two uses. These reusable containers take up very little space (those boxes below are collapsible!) and can be reused again and again!
Keep reading: 7 Travel Secrets You Don’t Know Until Someone Tells You
Make Your Own
Some foods require a little more preparation, but especially on a long flight, you will be really glad you thought ahead and made some actual meals! These ideas require the most preparation, but if it saves you from buying a $20 sandwich and chips at the airport, it might just be worth your while!
Sandwiches that travel well are peanut butter and jelly (with banana, if you’re like me); bacon, egg, and cheese; turkey and cheese; or ham and cheese! Don’t be afraid to get creative. Put it all in a wrap, on a bun, or simply between two slices of bread.
I’m not usually one to choose a salad over comfort food, but when I travel, my body craves healthy food because it’s so often not available! But it’s actually pretty easy to bring healthier foods with you, even if just for the flight. Just add your favorite salad fixin’s and your favorite dressing to an air-tight container (no leaks!), and your salad will be well-mixed with the dressing by the time you’re ready to eat it.
Read next: The Ultimate Habits of Flexible Travelers
Foods to Avoid Taking with You
- Odoriferous foods (tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Indian or other spicy foods)
- Unpeeled oranges
- Mayo-based foods
Want more tips for flying? Check out my Air Travel Page!
Need more money saving tips so you can travel more? Don’t miss my Saving and Money Page!
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