Traveling by plane this summer? Check out these 15 healthy, portable snacks your bring right on the plane!
15 Healthy Travel Snacks You Can Bring On the Plane
Scroll down for my favorites and lots of variations!
- Water (see my work-around)
- Snack bars (like granola bars, fruit bars, Kind bars)
- Protein or meal replacement bars (Quest, Clif or Balance bars)
- Protein powder.
- Fruit – fresh, dried and freeze-dried add almond butter
- Jerky/dried meat
- Dark chocolate
- Trail mix
- Granola or dry cereal
- Go Picnic Kits
- Fresh food options purchased at the airport
- Breakfast cookies (link to mine)
But first, what makes a great healthy travel snack?
Choose a snack that is portable, will stay fresh, is sturdy and easily packed. An energy bar can be crammed in a carry-on, a ripe pear cannot. I look for gluten free snacks without added crap like artificial flavors, colors, high fructose corn syrup, etc. I aspire to paleo eating – most of the time – though I definitely make exceptions and I’m not ultra picky when traveling.
Here are the top healthy travel snacks…
You obviously can’t bring water from home, but you CAN purchase a bottle after you go through security. I am happy to shell out $5+ for an over-priced bottle of water once I clear security so I have it just in case. It’s not that I’m worried about drinking my 64 ounces of water – I just want my own water if I need it. If a headache strikes, I can take an aspirin with no worries. If I am thirsty, I don’t have to wait for inflight beverage service.
2. Snack Bars
A snack bar to me is one low in protein, so it would not be a good choice for a meal replacement. If I’m flying over lunch or dinner time (and you’re lucky if you get a pack of peanuts on the plane) then a snack bar might be a part of my meal. Or, just something to grab if I’m hungry.
There are literally TONS of snack bars, from old school granola bars, fruit bars, nut bars, crunchy bars, soft bars… I’d recommend trying several brands in advance of your trip. Then stock upon your favorites.
I like these:
What I love about Kind bars is that you look at the bar and can SEE what you are eating. They are incredibly beautiful and made from real fruit, whole nuts, seeds and grains. No unpronounceable ingredients and they are gluten free, dairy free, no GMO’s. I use Kind bars as a quick snack, dessert or treat. I am currently obsessed with the Dark Chocolate Almond Mint, which tastes pretty dang close to a Girl Scout Thin Mint. Not that I remember what one tastes like, ha ha. This bar has 200 calories and 5g protein.
Fit & Active Fruit Bars
I found these in the checkout aisle of Aldi. My favorite is Blueberry & Hemp seed which is 110 calories and 3 g protein. The bars are slightly chewy, sweet and very fruity. Reminds me of a fruit roll up for grown ups.
I discovered Rawxies Mint Chocolate Chip bar at a local health food store. These are vegan, gluten free and made from “real” ingredients like GF oats, seeds, nuts, coconut and dates. But, best of all, each “cookie” is in the shape of a heart! I totally wish I had invented these because I often cut homemade protein bars into cute shapes. The mint chocolate chip variety has 130 calories and 4 g protein.
Melissa’s brand Pumpkin Seed Clean Snax was a grocery store impulse purchase yesterday and I may have to add these to my “trigger” list. They are so good!! These are crisp nuggets that are slightly sweet and you made with chia, flaxseed, sesame seeds and honey. One serving is 5 pieces for 150 calories and 6 grams of protein. (Luckily if you put the words “flax seed and chia” on a package in my house, no one will touch it. More for me!)
These are just a few of my favorites. Explore your local grocery or health food store to see what you discover!
3. Protein or Meal Replacement Bars
Protein bars pack a protein bunch so they can be used to replace a meal in a pinch. Just like with snack bars, there are TONS of varieties. Have some fun shopping at your local grocery or health food store. Or check out Amazon and read reviews. Sample some bars and choose your favorites for travel. Here are some of my favorites…
It’s no secret I love my Quest bars. My absolute favorite is White Chocolate Raspberry followed by S’Mores and Double Chocolate Chunk. Most bars are around 200 calories and 21 grams of protein. I’ll use a Quest bar as a quick breakfast on-the-go.
I wasn’t sure whether to classify Epic Bars as a protein bar, or jerky. They are 100% grass fed animal-based paleo protein. I like the Turkey Almond Cranberry Bar which has 14 g. protein and only 150 calories. (This is a little low in calories for a meal replacement so I’d combine it with a shake, fruit, nuts or homemade trail mix.)
Core Meal Hearty Oatmeal to Go
I discovered these bars at a local Terra Health Food store. I tried the Banana Walnut Core Meal Bar and was surprised to find it was soft and moist; very slightly sweet with a hint of banana. It’s almost like an oatmeal cookie, with gluten free oats, raw nuts, bananas, raisins, flaxseeds, vanilla beans. Definitely a meal replacement at 350 calories and 11g protein. The cool thing is these are perishable. It will last 1 week on the go, 2 months chilled, and 9 months frozen. These bars are very satisfying and filling, so they are a great choice for air travel.
Paleo Protein Bar
I tried the Caramel Paleo Protein Bar. This has a whopping 20 g protein (from egg whites) and 180 calories. I’ll be honest, I am not a huge fan. The bar is hard and has a slight caramel taste, but it was just OK. I wouldn’t buy these again but I recognize that we all have different tastes so YOU might like them.
One of the ladies on my Facebook page recommended I include Balance Bars in this article and she likes the peanut butter variety (200 calories and 15g protein). Balance bars are dense and sweet – almost like a healthy candy bar!
4. Protein Powder
Making a protein shake on an airplane takes only slightly more effort than ripping open a protein bar, but it’s easily doable if you enjoy drinking shakes. Remember the water you are going to buy at the airport? Just combine in a shaker cup with your protein powder and voila! Meal done.
I drink Chocolate Vegan Shakeology because not only do I get protein, but also superfood nutrition, probiotics, prebiotics, anti-oxidants and all sorts of good stuff. My normally healthy diet might slip a little while on vacation, but drinking my daily shake means I am totally covered nutritionally.
Quest Protein Powder
If you just want a delicious protein powder, Quest Nutrition has lots of choices for you. I especially like the peanut butter flavor, and sometimes I’ll add 1/3 scoop of peanut butter to my chocolate Shakeology instead of PB2 for an extra protein boost. You can purchase individual packets or a bulk container.
Here’s how to take your protein powder on-the-go…Portable Protein Powder.
Fruit is a great healthy travel snack – choose from fresh, dried or freeze dried.
When traveling by plane, choose “study” fruit like apples, bananas or grapes.
I love dried fruit and always carry some when traveling. Read the labels when making a purchase – I make sure there is no added sugar – fruit is sweet enough on its own! Some of my favorite dried fruit choices are:
- Dried apples
- Dried pears
- Dried apricots
- Dried Cranberries
- Dried peaches
Freeze Dried Fruit
Freeze dried fruit removes the water from fruit so you are left with a crispy product, versus soft and chewy like dried fruit. But you also have lots more options and bananas and strawberries are two of my favorites!
You can purchase freeze dried fruit in large containers or individual serving bags. Just Bananas (or Just Strawberries, etc.) is one brand; Target has Archer Farms Simply Balanced, and Amazon has Kirkland brand mini bags of freeze dried fruit. I sometimes buy freeze dried fruit on Amazon for the best deal.
Ok, so I don’t routinely carry veggies when I travel by plane, but it IS an option. Great choices would be baby carrots, baby bell peppers and celery. You can find travel packets of hummus which would make a great dip or spread. (Be sure to put the hummus packets in your quart size ziploc bag when going through security.)
7. Jerky/Dried Meat
Back in the day you had Slim Jims – now there are great jerky choices made from a variety of meats, from beef to bison to turkey and good ‘ol bacon!
I personally am not a fan of super hard, rip-your-teeth-out jerky, but I do like meat sticks, especially ones made with ingredients I can pronounce.
For an upcoming trip I choose Vermont Meat Sticks. I like the BBQ Beef and Turkey Uncured Pepperoni (though only one lasted long enough to photograph!) These meat sticks are relatively soft, are gluten free and are made from meat raised without antibiotics.
I actually have made homemade jerky in the past and this is a good reminder for me to make a batch or two!
Again, you have limitless possibilities. While I prefer eating sweet or salty roasted nuts, I almost always choose raw nuts because if they are too tasty I will over eat them! Buy nuts in individual-size packages or save money and portion nuts in snack baggies. I usually try to stick to around 100 calorie portions.
Good choices are:
- Raw almonds
- Macadamia nuts
- Peanuts (though I usually avoid peanuts – throwback to my paleo days)
- Brazil nuts
- Make your own mixture!
I like to mix seeds with nuts, coconut and dried fruit for trail mix, but you can eat them on their own as well. Try:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
10. Dark Chocolate
Because why would you travel without it?? Dark chocolate has anti-oxidants, it is low in sugar and relatively low in calories and it feels like a treat! I like 85%, but will go as low as 72% and as high as 90%, depending on the selection. I usually buy bars and split them into squares, but for travel I will splurge on individually wrapped squares. Lindt and Ghiradelli are my faves. If you shop at Aldi they have Moser Roth brand 85% dark chocolate. What I like about this brand is that it comes in a bar (easily portable) but when you open the cardboard wrapping, you have individually wrapped mini bars – each 2 square’s worth.) (Once again, I ate the entire bar without taking a picture …. Oops!)
11. Trail Mix
You can purchase trail mix or make your own and this is one instance where I always choose homemade. My basic formula is a combination of unsweetened coconut flakes, dried fruit and nuts. Sometimes I add dark chocolate just for fun!
12. Granola or Dry Cereal
I’m adding this as an option because it works for many people, particularly if you choose a healthy cereal like Kashi or gluten-free granola like Udi’s. I absolutely CANNOT eat granola – or any dry cereal – in moderation so it is permanently crossed off my list. I once ate an entire box of Archer Farms Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Biscotti granola in one sitting, sooooooo….
13. Go Picnic Snack Kits
I am a huge fan of Go Picnic snack kits. They are a little pricey but I use these as a back up if I don’t know I’ll have time to grab a meal in the airport or want to be sure it is something I can eat (gluten free). I like the Turkey Pepperoni & Cheese pack which includes: turkey pepperoni slices, Asiago cheese spread, multi-grain crackers, sweet + spicy fruit & nut mix, and a caramel lollipop for dessert. This particular kit has 330 calories and 14g protein and will keep you busy eating for a while!
14. Fresh Food Options at the Airport
Don’t rule out airport food because many airports have fresh “travel ready” options after you pass through security. Or, even get take out from some airport restaurants. You can find healthy options like hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit cups, salads, sandwiches and yogurt.
I don’t want to rely on picking up fresh food for the plane just in case, but if something looks good trust me I’ll snap it up and pop it in my carry on. The only drawback is sometimes the packaging. I remember wrestling with a plastic cup of hard boiled eggs on a plane for a good 20 minutes. I couldn’t get the dang thing open!
15. Homemade Bars, Cookies or Treats
I don’t often make homemade snack bars for travel, but my breakfast cookies are very travel-friendly. Just be sure whatever recipe you choose is pretty sturdy to withstand being bumped around in your travel bag.
Bonus: Packing Travel Snacks Tips
Ziploc baggies are your best friend. Use snack baggies to portion out snacks like raw nuts, homemade trail mix or dried fruit. Use snack baggies for scoops of protein powder. Use quart size bags to keep your bars or protein powder packets together inside your carry-on. Use gallon size bags to keep snacks together in a suitcase.
Do you pack snacks when you travel by plane? Have I missed any great healthy snacks?