The Best Snacks to Bring on a Plane (We Would Know)
Preparing for a flight can be a little stressful nowadays, especially if you are going overseas. Is your passport valid? Is your carry on the right size? Just how many liquids can you cram into a small clear bag to get past security? And is your new light mousse foundation counted as a liquid? All of this before you even think about travel snacks. Are you even allowed to bring snacks on a plane?
The short answer is yes, with some caveats which we will get into below. Seasoned travelers know that planning what plane snacks to take should be something you do way ahead of heading to the airport where you are far more likely to make last minute bad decisions when you are confronted by shelves of chocolate and candy and other sweet treats.
Plan a few healthy options for long flights and avoid being stuck with reheated airline food during your trip.
This post will give you some inspiration on how to prepare the best airplane snacks to stop that rumbling stomach, give you long burn energy instead of sugar spikes and drops and travel tips on what to avoid eating to help avoid fatigue and the dreaded high altitude bloat.
Healthy snacks to bring on a plane
Most people know that consuming salt equals water retention and potentially higher blood pressure but it’s best not to cut all salt out of the snacks you plan to consume on a plane because salt helps with hydration.
It’s vital to keep well hydrated when flying, especially during a long flight as low cabin pressure and the arid climate control onboard is not the best environment for your body and without good fluids and some salt you could soon feel itchy, cranky, lethargic and cold.
Pass on the alcohol, stick to plain water (buy or refill a water bottle AFTER airport security) and add in some healthy plane snacks to keep your body happy.
The easy to grab snack of choice for many are RX protein bars, Lara bars and Clif bars-all good healthy options available in many grocery stores and whole foods outlets like Trader Joe’s with some yummy flavours to choose from.
It’s actually easy to make your own granola bars and going DIY means you get to include all your fave flavours and you can make them vegan, gluten free, dairy free or whatever. Literally search “make your own protein bars” online for recipes to set your taste buds tingling. You could also blend your own trail mix for your next flight.
For a decent and ethical option check out vegan, GMO free and kosher Badabean snacks (crunchy roasted broad bean) and BobbySue’s nuts. Both brands offer great flavours and purchases of BobbySue’s nuts supports animal welfare charities.
Why you should bring your own snacks
It makes sense to bring your own airplane snacks if you want to eat smart and save money. Pack ingredients to create your own graze board on that tray table and enjoy eating a filling snack which will help keep you healthy and happy for a few hours.
The big benefit of bringing your own food is that you know exactly what you are eating during your flight. This is especially important for anyone who has an intolerance, allergy, other health-related requirements or faith-based restrictions.
Which snacks you can bring on a plane
When thinking of airplane food ideas, bear in mind that you can’t bring just anything on a plane and there are even stricter rules on what goes in carry-on bags compared to hold luggage. So what food can you bring on a plane?
You can usually bring less solid foods to eat during a flight including coconut oil, nut butter, including peanut butter and almond butter but only in quantities up to 100ml/3.4 oz and they have to be included in your liquids allowance and carried through security in a clear bag.
You could also bring instant oatmeal or instant miso soup and ask your flight attendant for hot water to add when on board. Powders like hot choc can be tricky and you may be taken aside for a second inspection at the airport.
Smelly food is a no-no for air travel so leave that durian at home. In fact some fruits and veggies cannot be taken into the US or other countries and forgetting that apple at the bottom of your rucksack could land you a hefty fine.
As we’ve mentioned before liquids have to be in a 3.4oz container or smaller. Top tip – keep all food together to make the TSA check quicker and easier.
Here’s a quick list of some of the best food to pack to enjoy at high altitudes whether you have a sweet tooth or prefer savoury treats.
- Pizza, wraps and sandwiches (choose high fiber options where possible).
- Create your own pan bagnat (a supremely Instagrammable French tuna picnic sandwich) for a spectacular snack.
- Fresh fruit like apple slices, and veggies, including salads with dressing in a 3.4-ounce container.
- Peanut butter, cream cheese and dips, also in snack size containers
- Cheese cubes or individually wrapped cheese portions
- Deli meat, cured meats
- Nuts, dried fruit, and gummy fruit snacks
- Potato chips, pretzels and other packaged snacks
- Dark chocolate and snack bars
- Turkey or beef jerky
- Crackers and bread sticks
- Dried fruit like dried apricots, banana chips, raisins etc
- Veg based sushi
How to bring snacks on a plane
Nowadays you don’t have to save your old takeout containers to pack your picnic into although they are still a decent option if not still curry scented. Shop for cool reusables from bento boxes to beeswax wraps in a host of bright colors. You can also buy reusable silicone bags and snack cups.
Avoid bringing food that might require refrigeration or at least pack it into an insulated lunch bag. Bear in mind “room temperature” on an aircraft can vary wildly. Don’t forget knives, even blunt plastic ones, are not allowed in carry on so choose food you can eat with a fork and spoon, fingers or chopsticks.
Which snacks will you bring on your next plane ride?
Have you got more ideas for a great snack? Do you have tips on what to pack for long flights? Share your inspo for healthy plane snacks on this Facebook group and share your recommendations on this post. For more great ideas check out this post on hiking lunch ideas and this article about food to take backpacking.
Meet the Writer
Afra is an award winning journalist who has enjoyed many adventures including swimming with sharks, crewing hot air balloons and canyoning. She started creating online content ten years ago, diversifying after years writing for print publications. She loves travel, great food, and her family. Not necessarily in that order.
Favorite outdoor adventure: Snorkeling in the warm waters off the coast of Cyprus
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