Habits of Healthy Eaters: Pack Snacks When You Travel

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By the time you read this, I'll be somewhere between Cincinnati and Istanbul, reuniting with a dear friend and starting an adventure two years in the making.

I love to travel. What I don't love is airplane food. If you're "lucky" enough to be served a meal, it's usually not very healthy or tasty.*

I always travel on a pretty tight budget, so shelling out $10 for a watery salad or fast food in the airport isn't something I like to do. The "snacks" that airlines sell now are not any better: potato chips, candy, and other junk food is the norm. Yuck.

Flying already leaves me feeling dehydrated and tired, without adding excess sugar and salt to my body.

How do I avoid paying high prices and eat right until I land--and beyond? I pack snacks.

Last year, I went to Guatemala as the guest of a local nonprofit. The breakfasts and dinners at our hotels offered delicious Guatemalan cuisine with plenty of vegetarian options, but lunch was often a boxed lunch on the bus as we traveled between schools. As a vegetarian who's allergic to peanuts, my options were limited in rural Guatemala. I planned ahead: I bought a loaf a whole-wheat bread, a jar of all-fruit preserves, and a jar of almond butter. I packed a bag of whole-grain pretzels, a box of granola bars, and a jar of almonds. During long bus rides, unexpected layovers, and less-than-healthy lunches, those snacks were a lifesaver. When I didn't really have the option of heading to the local grocery store there (though I did buy some avocados at a farmers market one day and received some local fruit from some students another day), it was nice to know that I had healthy snacks to tide me over until my next meal. (I loaded up on fruits and veggies at mealtime, not to worry!)

On this trip, I'll be staying with a friend and thus will have access to a kitchen, grocery store, and the glorious markets of Istanbul. But to get there, I have a long trip. I've packed 100-calorie packs of nuts, a box of granola bars, and a canister of sports drink mix. (We'll be heading to the beach and the desert, and I dehydrate easily in the heat!). Every little bit counts, whether it's nutrition or money.

Some of my favorite travel snacks:

For the plane:

  • Small containers of hummus and a bag of fresh vegetables

  • A homemade veggie and hummus or almond butter and jelly sandwich

  • A piece of fruit (note: I only do this on domestic flights. I don't want to end up paying a fine like Hilary Swank did, after forgetting to declare fruit!)

  • Nut butter and whole-grain crackers

  • Dried fruit and nuts

  • Homemade granola

  • High-fiber cereals

Throughout the trip:

  • Nuts

  • Granola bars/energy bars

  • Bananas and apples (purchased at supermarkets)

  • Candied ginger (great for calming queasy bellies, easing motion sickness, and satisfying a sweet tooth)

I keep a couple of servings in my purse, a couple more in my carry-on, then store the rest in my luggage. This is also the only time I buy prepackaged foods (100-calorie packs of nuts rather than a bulk amount), but it is easier when you're in the go.

*Side note: I've found that foreign airlines serve better food, more often. Air India (flight from Paris to New York) served an excellent vegetarian curry; Asiana and All Nippon Airways from Japan to Korea served finger sandwiches and curry on a 3-hour flight… KLM, Turkish Airways, Lufthansa are all generous with food and drink, from my experience.

By spending a little bit of money upfront (I spent maybe $10), I am able to ensure I have a healthy snack no matter what travel situation I encounter.

Do you pack your own snacks on airplanes an when you travel? What are your favorites?