by Kassel K

IMAGE Eating well when you travel can be quite a challenge, especially when you are confined to the cabin of an airplane or the inside of a terminal for several hours. But with a little planning ahead, you can have healthy meals and snacks during your journey.

These days, unless you are flying across multiple time zones, you are not likely to be served anything other than a mini-bag of salty snacks. There is no reason to turn these goodies away, just be sure to have a cup of water or juice with them. Airplane travel can increase your risk of dehydration, so be sure to have fluids as often as you can. Alcoholic drinks can contribute to dehydration.

A few other tips for eating well while flying:

Order a Special Meal (Vegetarian or Kosher)

Since fewer of these meals are prepared, they tend to be a bit better in quality. And with the vegetarian option, you are bound to get more fruits and vegetables than if you opt for the standard offering.

Pack for Your Tummy and Your Trip

A few resealable bags or small, spill-proof containers of healthy snacks can prove to be lifesavers when you are somewhere over Kansas with no meal service in sight. Foods that are easy to pack include:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Grapes
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Raisins and other dried fruits
  • A snack mix of dried fruit, cereal (such as Chex or Cheerios), and nuts

For the latest information about what you can pack in your carry-on luggage, check the Transportation Security Administration's website.

Tour the Terminal

You will likely have lots of free time at the gate, so take a walk through the terminal and see what foods are available. Today, airports house a variety of restaurants and food vendors from the well-known chains to newsstands that sell snacks, as well. Here, you can stock up on non-perishable foods to carry-on with you, or have a snack to hold you over until your destination. Depending on how hungry you are, look for some of these healthier options:

  • Low-fat frozen yogurt topped with fruit
  • Pretzels, plain or with mustard
  • Grilled chicken breast sandwich
  • Vegetable wrap sandwich
  • Slice of vegetable pizza
  • Garden salad and bread
  • Vegetable-based soup with roll
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Baked potato topped with salsa
  • Pasta with vegetables and tomato-based sauce

All Around the World

When you travel internationally, there are a few more factors that can make healthy eating difficult. For example, you may be faced with foods you do not recognize or that contain unknown ingredients. Read up on the foods of your destination before you go. Also, in certain countries, there is concern about the safety of the water; you will need to avoid all fresh produce as well as tap water and drinks with ice cubes. In these cases, you may want to bring along your own snacks. However, keep in mind that some customs agents may not let you bring food into a new country. Ask questions and try to find out these details before you take to the skies.


American Dietetic Association 

Transportation Security Administration 


Dietitians of Canada 

Health Canada 


Independent Traveler. Airport security Q&A. Independent Traveler website. Available at: . Accessed June 15, 2010.

Transportation Security Administration. 3-1-1 for carry-ons. Transportation Security Administration website. Available at: . Accessed June 15, 2010.