25+ Travel Snack Ideas for Road & Plane Trips

Whether you’re heading home for the holidays, or escaping the cold to warmer climes, you’re likely going to get hungry while in transit. Food on the road and in airports tends to be limited and expensive; packing your own meals and snacks can help you feel more satisfied and energized, and is easier on your wallet.

On the Road

If your destination is a car ride away, my favourite tip is to pack a cooler. Even if you’re just packing a few snacks or lunch for the day, it can help you save time because you don’t have to stop for lunch along the way, and it doesn’t hurt to have some nourishment in case—knock on wood—you get stranded somewhere.

Load your cooler up with…

  • Water bottles or bottled water. If using your own water bottles, try adding lemon, cucumber, mint, frozen berries or strawberry tops for extra flavour.
  • Cut-up raw veggies. Save time by buying pre-cut vegetables or a veggie tray at the grocery store. For a more filling snack, add a dip with protein, like hummustzatziki, cottage cheese, or plain Greek yogurt or skyr
  • Fresh fruit. Some fruits, like apples, pears, and oranges tend to travel well and don’t necessarily need to be kept in the cooler.
  • Individual packages of yogurt or cottage cheese. Don’t forget to pack a spoon!
  • Individually-wrapped cheese. Individual portions, string cheese or Babybel are popular. Pair with crackers, fruit and/or vegetables.
  • Hard boiled eggs. Great, easy source of protein, but be careful if you don’t like the smell!
  • Edamame. You’ll find these fuzzy green soy bean pods in the frozen foods section of the grocery store. Simply let them thaw out in your cooler for a tasty, high-fibre and high-protein snack.
  • Sandwiches and wraps. An easy meal idea that can be enjoyed anywhere on the road. To keep your sandwiches from getting soggy, try keeping the vegetables (lettuce, tomato, etc.) in a separate container or zip lock bag.
  • Hardy salads. Green salads tend to wilt easily. Instead, pack a grain-, bean- or pasta-based salad, or a Greek salad. Save time by picking one up at your deli, or try your hand at making your own.

When it’s cold outside, it might make more sense to pack an insulated container, like a Thermos®. It can keep your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate warm, so that you can stay hydrated (and caffeinated). Depending on the length of your trip, you might even use a larger container to pack a hot meal, like soup or stew.

Don’t want to pack all these gadgets around? Here are some non-perishable snacks to enjoy.

  • Whole grain crackers with peanut butter or flavoured canned tuna. Be careful of smell from latter!
  • Trail mix. Make your own by heading to the bulk bins at your grocery store and filling up on your favourite nuts, seeds, dried fruit, cereal… and a little chocolate never hurt anyone! 😉
  • Bars and/or balls. Store-bought granola bars, protein bars, or power balls, or homemade.
  • Roasted chickpeas. Store-bought or homemade.
  • Kale chips. Store-bought or homemade.

Domestic and Non-U.S. International Flights

Eating while flying has its benefits, like tray tables and access to hot water. It also has its unique set of challenges, like less carrying capacity, limited liquids and gels and changes in your sense of taste and smell.

For Canadians flying to the U.S., because you often have to clear customs before boarding, you might sometimes find your food confiscated; for other international flights, you’re probably OK as long as you eat everything before you land.

All the non-perishable snack ideas for the road above should work—though you might want to leave the canned tuna at home—and for short flights, some of the perishable ideas can work as well. Some other tips:

  • Pack an empty water bottle. There are usually water fountains past security for you to fill up, or you can always ask a flight attendant for water on the plane.
  • Think travel-sized. Foods like yogurt, hummus and peanut butter fall into the “liquids and gels” category, but most individual packs fall within the 100 mL limit. Just make sure you put it in the clear bag with your toiletries as you clear customs. Bonus tip: freeze your yogurt so that it can thaw in your bag and stay cold—there’s nothing worse than warm yogurt—PLUS it can double as an “ice pack” for your other foods.
  • Just add water. If you prefer a hot meal, pack along some instant oatmeal (I also like to bring nuts and dried fruit for some extra flavour and texture), or some instant soup or noodles. (If ramen is not your thing, try this mix from GoGoQuinoa.) I don’t fly well, so sometimes I’ll bring a favourite tea bag to help calm my nerves, or mix cocoa powder, skim milk powder and sugar for some homemade hot chocolate.
Do you pack food when you are travelling? What are your favourite meals and snacks to bring?

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