15 Healthy Travel Snacks To Pack Ahead
Claire Wood, MS, RDN
It’s time to head to the airport, and you have several hours of travel ahead of you. What snacks should you take to keep you fueled throughout your journey and save money at the airport? Here are 15 top healthy travel snacks.
Airports have come a long way, and now you can find more health-conscious options spread throughout the terminals. But even when the options are there, sometimes it’s hard to know which foods are best.
So, set yourself up for success by planning ahead and packing snacks in your bag before you step foot out of the house. Then, if there are any last-minute items you want to add, you can always look for the foods on this list at the airport!
Key Elements for Healthy Travel Snacks
All the foods in this list are whole foods with minimal ingredients, and easy to pair together! There are three key nutrients you’ll want to think about:
Protein – This is one of the three macronutrients that you need each day. Including protein in snacks can help you meet your daily protein needs, keep you fuller for longer, and help maintain lean muscle mass.
Fiber – Fiber is a nutrient great for gut health that can help with regularity during your travels. It can also help you stay fuller for longer to manage hunger.
Healthy Fat – Fat is another one of the three macronutrients. It is needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, and K. Fat is also important for hormone regulation and helps control hunger. Healthy fats like omega-3s can also reduce inflammation and contribute to heart and brain health.
Phytonutrients – These often go under the radar, but they are perhaps one of the most powerful nutrients to contribute to your overall health! Phytonutrients are found in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole-grains. They can benefit heart health and act as antioxidants to fight off certain diseases, among many other benefits.
This combination will satisfy you for longer and will contribute towards your daily nutrient needs on a day that may be thrown off from so much on-the-go time.
15 Healthy Travel Snacks
Use the following list to mix-and-match based on the foods you know you love. If you are looking to add additional protein items, Greek yogurt, string cheese, and hard-boiled eggs are very easy to find at the airport too!
1. No-bake energy bites
No-bake energy bites are a quick and easy snack to make that you can take on-the-go. Simply blend pitted dates, almond butter, and cacao powder in a food process or make them into balls, coat with chopped nuts or coconut flakes, and you have a snack with fiber, fat, and a little protein.
2. Snap pea crisps
These are another great snack with tons of flavor, fiber, and a crunch! Switch things up and look for flavored varieties.
3. Turkey jerky
Always have an easy protein option on hand. Look for jerky without preservatives - you should just see turkey, and a few spices in the ingredient list. This pairs well with fruit or an energy bar.
4. Roasted chickpeas
Easily make this snack at home, grab at the grocery store, or find online! It’s crunchy and is a great form of fiber. The chickpeas also provide small amounts of protein.
5. Packaged olives
This snack is a great addition for healthy fats and sodium for electrolytes while traveling.
It has a savory flavor that also pairs well with crackers and dip.
6. Oatmeal cup
Look for an oatmeal cup with added flaxseed or chia seeds for healthy fats. Then on the flight, ask the flight attendant for hot water, and you have fat, fiber, and protein.
7. Protein or energy bar
Look for options that use whole foods and have minimal ingredients. Lara bars, RX bars, and Kind Bars are easy options! Aiming for >10g of protein per bar is best.
8. Sandwich on whole-grain bread
When in doubt, a whole-grain sandwich can be your go-to! It provides more sustenance for your travel day. Easy options include peanut butter and jelly, turkey with veggies, or cheese with veggies and hummus.
9. Air-popped popcorn
Look for single-serve bags at the store or pop your own! If you make your own, get creative and add in other herbs or spices you love, such as black pepper, rosemary, or garlic! Popcorn is a whole grain that contains healthy fat and fiber.
10. Cheese crisps
These have started to pick up more speed in the healthy snacking category. You can find them at most grocery stores. Common brands are Parm Crisps and Whisps. They provide a nice crunch and offer protein and calcium.
11. Cut up veggies
Add a fresh snack to the mix by pre-slicing veggies and bringing them in a bag – cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, and bell pepper are great options that will survive transport. These foods offer fiber for regularity, Vitamin C, and powerful plant compounds called phytonutrients that have many health and immune-boosting benefits.
12. Dried fruit, fruit bar, or whole fruit
Hit your daily fruit and veggie targets even while traveling! Apricots, raisins, and mango are great dried fruit options. You can also find dried fruit bars for an even more portable choice! If you prefer fresh fruit, choose whole fruit options such as mandarins, bananas, or apples. These all provide fiber, phytonutrients, and immune-boosting nutrients.
13. Hummus or guacamole with whole-grain crackers
These duos contain healthy fats, a small amount of protein, and fiber. Choosing whole-grain crackers adds additional vitamins and minerals. Look for single-serve hummus or guacamole packets at the market for easy transport.
14. Nut butter packet, nuts, or trail mix
These are portable and a mess-free choice for protein, healthy fat, and fiber. Common packets include almond butter, peanut butter, or sunflower butter.
Nuts or trail mix are great alternatives! Choose from pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds. Add in dried fruit and dark chocolate chips to make your own trail mix. This snack provides all three nutrient targets.
15. Dark chocolate (>70%)
A flight isn’t complete without a sweet treat. If you aren’t the biggest dark chocolate fan because of the bitterness, the closer you get to the 70% mark, the less bitter it will become. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, fiber, iron, and magnesium among other valuable nutrients – all of which will contribute to a healthier travel experience.
Now that you have a complete list of healthy travel snacks, it’s time to start planning for your next trip. Mix and match a few of these, and remember to include a protein, healthy fat, fiber, and phytonutrients. And of course, don’t forget to stay hydrated!
Claire Wood, MS, RDN, and founder of Nutrigility, is a Registered Dietitian who works with businesses and other dietitians to develop nutrition content for many different audiences.