Whether you are in the airport catching a flight for a business meeting or loading into the car for a family road trip, eating on plan is hard while traveling. The last time our family traveled together we found an airport restaurant to grab a bite before takeoff. I was so upset to learn that there was not one piece of fresh food on the menu. Not a fresh salad or even a celery stick to dip in ranch. I was frustrated. So I made it my mission to help you find healthy travel snacks.
This article will help you to navigate the airport, car travel and what in the world you can eat while traveling.
Whole food, first
The easier thing to grab when heading out is a processed muffin, breakfast taco, or prepackaged breakfast item. The issue with convenience foods is that they lack nutrient density. The nutrient density of a food is the ratio of beneficial ingredients to the food’s energy content for the amount that is commonly consumed. You want to consume foods that have high nutrient density.
What’s the best way to ensure you are eating nutrient density? Eat more whole foods, clean meats, and wild-caught fish.
Okay, so how do I eat whole foods, travel snacks and meals on the road?
On the road, look for fresh fruit, first. Typically convenience stores place fruit near the register as a grab and go option. They want to sell the bananas and apples quickly to avoid their expiration.
If there is nothing fresh to purchase, go to the chip aisle and look for a bag of almonds or cashews. Once you flip over the back of the package, look for additives like sugar. Purchase the food with the least amount and most recognizable ingredients. Also look for the energy bar section and choose the bar with more protein than carbs.
Pack a cooler!
Remember when we were kids and the cooler had sodas, candy,, PB&Js and canned cheese and crackers? Yeah, that was acceptable when your metabolism worked well. If your cooler still looks like this then it’s time to level up.
When your cooler has a layer of ice at the bottom then layer the following ingredients…
- A tupperware full of fresh berries
- Carbonated waters or regular bottles of water
- Travel charcuterie board including nitrate free salami, prosciutto, other dry meats
- High quality cheese
- Hard boiled eggs, sliced and salted with chipotle mayo
- Gluten-free pita bread
The cooler doesn’t sit in the trunk under your bags. It has to be readily available so you can snack! Don’t allow yourself to get hungry. When you stop for lunch, it’s probably going to be fast food and you don’t want to be starving.
Lunch at a fast food restaurant
Let’s be real, there are not a ton of great options for healthy food on the road. Cracker Barrel has a grilled chicken salad that’s good, but you will have to wait on that food. Typically we are running into a McDonald’s to use the bathroom and grabbing food to go. So what do I eat at fast food restaurants while road tripping?
All American – Wraps with grilled chicken and ranch
Burger places – Bun-less burgers with a handful of fries
Taco restaurants – Chicken fajita taco on corn tortilla
Sub shops – Sandwich in a bowl
Let’s talk travel snacks in airports
I’m just going to acknowledge that drinking an alcoholic beverage before a flight is a common practice. That is the first and easiest thing to avoid when trying to engage in healthy behaviors when flying. When thinking about travel snacks in the airport, you will notice coolers on the outside of restaurants and magazine shops. These coolers often have salads, wraps, sandwiches, and sodas. Choose a salad or a wrap. If you are eating low carb, salad is your best option. Instead of a high sugar soda, choose sugar-free, carbonated water.
If you are flying first-class, you may have a meal offered to you in-flight. Opt for the high protein option and avoid the pasta option. If you are flying business-class or economy, plan your snacks ahead of time. You will be offered pretzels or biscuits and both of those snacks will spike your blood-sugar and leave you feeling hungry in a matter of minutes. Before you board, grab some of the following (non stinky) travel snacks.
- Organic jerky
- Natural almonds
- Wasabi peas
- Smart pop
- Salami and cheese
- Apple and almond butter to-go pack
- Rice cakes
- Vegetable packs
- Mixed fruit
List of low carb travel snacks
- Ready Cooked Meat, Chicken & Fish
- Bluebell cheese
- Cello Whisps Variety Bundle
- Quest Nutrition Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie
- Wonderful Lightly Salted Pistachios
- Whole Natural Almonds
- Stuffed olives
- Hard boiled eggs
- To-go nut butter packs