3 Tips for Healthy Family Air Travel

Air travel is often an inevitable part of many families' lives. Whether to see family members, friends, for work, or for a much needed getaway to a dream destination, thousands and thousands of people find themselves on an airplane each and every day.  And since it’s nearly impossible NOT to miss a meal when hopping on a flight, travelers often find themselves buying food at the airport or on the plane to help fuel their travels. However, this food is usually less than nourishing, often quite processed (though some airports are making impressive strides to offer healthier foods to commuters), and most definitely expensive. So, it is understandable that more people are leaning towards packing their own snacks and meals when getting ready to hop on a plane, for the sake of their health and wallets.

With safety restrictions being what they are at airports, what foods can you safely and easily bring with on a flight? As someone who lives across the country from where I grew up, my little family and I find ourselves on a plane multiple times a year. Over the years and trips, I have figured out what foods to bring with me to keep my little crew full and happy for our airplane adventures (and also which ones NOT to bring) as well as a few tips and tricks for making our travels easier and healthier.

9 Tips for Healthy Family Travel

1. Remember to be reasonable when packing your food. You can carry enough food on your plane to make it through the flight but not enough for the duration of your whole trip. Breast milk, formula, and commercially prepared baby food in excess of the 3.4 ounce liquid limit is allowed for infants and toddlers, but again in moderation and are subject to testing/extra screening. So, make sure to hit google prior to your trip to find a location where you can stock-up on healthy goodies at your destination so that you won’t find yourself on the other side unprepared and hungry.

2. Bring an empty water bottle in your carry on. It's easy to become dehydrated while flying and buying bottled water in the airport can cost you a small fortune if you are flying with a family. Many (not all) airports have water bottle filling stations that you can use to fill up with once you're through security. Utilize those suckers to keep your water intake up while traveling without breaking the bank. My husband and I fancy  Healthy Human Insulated Water Bottle or Hydroflask for our water bottles. My daughter's Rocket Water Bottle from Planetbox is perfect for kiddos. 

3. Bring your own food. As I stated before, most food sold in airports is quite processed and devoid of much nutrition and through the stress of travel, your body absolutely needs healthy choices. I am so pleased that some airports are recognizing the need and desire of travelers to have wholesome food choices and bringing in companies that cater to this call. However, not every airport has a healthy option for every dietary need/preference. When in doubt as to what dinner options will be waiting for you on the other side of that security line, bring your own nourishing nibbles to fuel you through your travels. Here are some of my tried and true travel foods:

Veggies and fruits. Simple, clean, and nourishing!  What could be easier or more travel friendly!?  Some of my favorite airplane fruits and veggies are sliced carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, grapes, apples and oranges (those don’t even need to be sliced).  Leave the berries or other fragile fruits at home, as they will likely get squished in the carry-on (and could create a mess in your bag).  If you are traveling with a small baby, a banana or avocado is a great thing to bring with you for homemade baby food on the go, as you can easily mash and feed right where you are! Just be careful when traveling internationally, as some countries prohibit produce from other countries from being brought in. 

Cheese, meats, and hard boiled eggs. Air travel takes a lot out of a person and you need to be sure to keep some protein on hand to keep you going. Get a block of cheese and cut it into bite-sized cubes for your journey or just some simple organic cheese sticks. Before a trip, I'll make a chicken I my slow cooker, take the meat off the bone, and bag up bite sized pieces of chicken for us to nibbled on at meal time. Or I make the meat and cheese into a sandwich!  Boil and peel some eggs too for another easy punch of protein when traveling! Worried about keeping things cold? Since most ice packs are gel filled and won't make it through security, stick your cheese, meats, and even sandwich into the freezer the night before your trip and grab them right before you leave for the airport. They will stay cold, but thaw by the time you want to eat!

Healthy crackers or plantain chips. These go great with the cheese, meat, eggs, fruits and veggies for a well balanced bag of snacks! Easily portable and always travel sized, a small bag of healthy carbohydrates is a must-have for an extended trip. Because my family prefers to eat a gluten-free diet, we love these flaxseed crackers, but if gluten free/grain free is not a priority to your family, any whole grain cracker with a handful of wholesome clean ingredients will work too (aim for under 5 ingredients!).

Nuts, dried fruit, or dried fruit & nut bars….but check your flight first. All of these are great for a boost of energy after a long day of traveling. Plus they are easy to pack in a carry-on bag. However, some flights are nut-free due to a fellow passenger having an extreme food allergy. So that you don’t have to pitch some of your travel food last minute or accidentally expose someone to an allergen, check to see if you flight has been dubbed a “nut-free flight” a day or so before your trip.

  • Hummus, nut butters, dips, applesauce, and yogurt….but in small amounts. All of these things are great to bring with you, but things like hummus, applesauce, and other “slow moving liquids” are still often considered a liquid and will have to be brought on in 3 ounce portions in a quart-sized ziplock bag to make it through security. 

Traveling healthy isn’t difficult, however it does take some planning and preparation. Just like you plan what to pack in your suitcase for your trip, plan what foods to bring on the airplane with you a few days ahead of time. This will not only help fuel your body, and save you money…but you’ll likely bounce back from jet-lag faster! And all those will things help you enjoy your trip that much more.

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