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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Ultimate List of Plane Snacks for Long Flights

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Before you head out – for a vacation, business trip, spring break, or weekend getaway – read up on these healthy plane snacks so you can eat smart while you’re on the go!

healthy plane snacks: cup of carrots, whole wheat roll, rice and vegetables, hard boiled egg, and cup of nuts

Summer is coming!

And if you’re anything like me, that means lots of sun, hanging out with friends and family, outdoorsy activities, and hopefully – travel.

If you’re like me, you need healthy plane snacks so that you can stay on track with your healthy lifestyle even when you’re on the go.

The food and snacks you find at the airport and on the plane are not the healthiest options. That’s why it’s best to go to the airport prepared by bringing your own snacks.

I know it may seem like a pain, especially when you’re already busy packing your bags, but trust me, you’ll be so much happier knowing you’ve got a stash of nutritious and tasty snacks when you’re trapped on the plane!

paper bag lunch with apple and water

How To Pack Healthy Plane Snacks In Your Carry-On Bag

I always like to pack food and take it with me to the airport – that way I’m not searching for something healthy among the random fast food options, and I’m never hungry and stranded on an airplane either (oh and for the budget conscious, this is a much cheaper option).

It takes a bit of prep work before you leave, but it’s so worth it when the person next to you is eating a greasy overcooked burger and fries and you have your healthy mini-meals to keep yourself going!

Pack A Mini Meal For Your Travel Day

When packing a mini meal, think of easy to travel food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Here are some of my favorite ideas.

  • Peanut or Almond Butter Sandwich on Sprouted Wheat Bread with Low Sugar Preserves. This is a great one-dish meal that doesn’t spoil, travels well and is super easy/fast to make.
  • Steamed Mixed Vegetables, seasoned with salt, curry powder and other spices, or salt & freshly ground black pepper. This is a great snack and a way to make sure you’re eating veggies when you travel! I like to steam the veggies in the microwave, season them, and pack them in a disposable container to take on the plane.
  • Cheese and Veggie Sandwich on sprouted grain bread made from 1 slice of your favorite cheese, sliced tomato, some greens, salt & pepper. This is another great go-to sandwich – slightly more perishable than the PBJ, but a good option for a shorter flight or if you know you’ll be eating the sandwich within a few hours of boarding the plane.

Pack a Bag of Healthy Plane Snacks

Pack a healthy snack bag – I fill my carry-on bag with non-perishable items.

raw healthy trail mix, healthy plane snacks, with almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit

Best Non-Perishable Snacks for The Plane

  • Raw Nuts
  • Seeds (Pumpkin or Sunflower)
  • Unsweetened Dry Fruit
  • Raw Trail Mix
  • Healthy Protein Bars
  • Fresh Fruit (apples, bananas, oranges)
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries)
  • Celery Sticks
  • Carrot Sticks
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Sliced Cucumber Sticks (or mini cucumbers)
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Low Sugar Cereal

Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruit for the Plane

Make sure you get nuts, seeds and dried fruit without any added oils or sugar (I like a combination of raw cashews, raw walnuts, raw almonds and raisins in the “Go Raw” Trex Mix from Trader Joe’s).

I like to separate them out into mini portion sizes (1/4 cup each). That way I don’t go overboard and eat a ton!

Freeze dried fruit is even healthier than traditional dried fruit as it’s typically lower in sugar and a bit more filling!

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables for the Plane

cucumber, carrot slices in small cups- plane Snacks of fresh fruits and vegetables including carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and grapes on a table at a children’s party.

If you’re packing fresh veggies, like celery, carrots, grape tomatoes, or cucumbers, place them in a durable container so they don’t get squished. Depending on where you’re traveling to, you may not want to hav to carry around containers with you once you’ve landed, so a disposable container is best in that case. That way you can throw out the trash on the plane, and not have to carry it around with you.

When considering what type of fruit to pack, consider any fruits that are easy to eat, not too messy and don’t get squished easily. I usually stick to Fuji Apples because they’re high in fiber and filling as a snack, and they’re pretty durable too.

Healthy Protein Bars for the Plane

best vegan protein bars - image of variety of vegan protein bars

When choosing protein bars look for ones that are low glycemic and low in sugar. Get one with no more than 200 calories, and at least 4 grams of fiber and at least 6 grams of protein (but the more protein you can pack into your bar the better).

I like Aloha bars, or Raw Revolution Glo bars for higher protein options; and KIND nut bars for a less filling snack option. Make sure to check out my post on the healthiest vegan protein bars for my favorite options!

Instant Oatmeal and Healthy Cereals for the Plane

cereal topped with strawberries - healthy plane snacks

Include packets of plain instant oatmeal, or your favorite low sugar healthy cereals. Divide the cereal into individual portion sizes in separate containers so they’re ready to go when you travel.

Either oatmeal or cereal can be a great snack or breakfast – you should be able to find boiling water in any airport (or even on an airplane) to cook the oatmeal, or low fat milk to eat the cereal with.

Add some of the fresh fruit you packed on top for a balanced and filling snack or meal!

Sweet Treats for the Plane

chocolate covered almonds

Craving something sweet at the airport? There is one easy way to satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking your diet or giving yourself a sugar high + crash!

The secret is dark chocolate. Choose dark chocolate that has a 70% or higher cacao content. I like 88% dark chocolate because it’s super low in sugar, high in fiber and has some protein too!

Another great option is dark chocolate covered nuts. Dark chocolate covered almonds, peanuts, etc. are a perfect sweet treat, with a bit of protein, fiber and an anti-oxidant punch!

Healthy Plane Snacks to Get at the Airport

If you aren’t able to pack food and have to rely on the maze of airport options – here is my list of healthy on-the-go plane snacks that you should be able to find at most airports.

Breakfast Ideas

  • Starbucks is always a good option, especially for a healthy breakfast. A non-fat tall latte has only 90 calories and tons of protein, and you can also get oatmeal (get it without the sugar or dried fruit), whole grain wraps (their spinach and feta wrap is high fiber and under 300 calories), and fresh fruit. Their fat free multigrain bagel has 300 calories and 6 grams of fiber (without the cream cheese). 
  • Au Bon Pain can be found at many airports, and they also have healthy breakfast options similar to Starbucks
  • McDonald’s has oatmeal (get it without all of the sugary add-ins though), and apple slices and low fat milk as well.
  • Dunkin Donuts has an egg white veggie flatbread that has 280 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein – not bad!
  • Fruit – nearly every quick stop restaurant or cafe has pre-packaged food by the checkout counter!

Lunch or Dinner Ideas

  • Subway is a decent pick (choose wheat bread, tons of veggies on your sandwich, and use mustard, salt and pepper as your condiments – no mayo, dressing, or oil)
  • Au Bon Pain has customizable sandwiches (think the Subway strategy here) or great salads / soups too (their garden vegetable soup has only 80 calories for a small)
  • Starbucks also has a line of pre-packaged meals that are all under 500 calories – they come in fresh daily so it’s great especially if you really need a grab-and-go option
  • Delis that allow you to customize your sandwiches work well – think of them as a good alternative to Subway. They also will typically have healthy soup options too.
  • Taco Bell – opt for the bean burrito or anything on the “Fresco” menu
  • Mexican Restaurants like La Salsa, Chipotle, Andale, or Baja Fresh have great options – look for soft corn tacos, or the “bowl” option filled with black beans, veggies, salsa for a satisfying treat (omit the sour cream & guac, avoid anything fried, and go light on the cheese)
  • Even McDonald’s and Burger King have been offering a few healthy options – you can get salads (order the dressing on the side and use it very sparingly – dip your fork in it and eat your salad, don’t pour it on your salad). McDonald’s has apple slices and smoothies that you can order without the frozen yogurt as well.
  • Some airports have all natural frozen yogurt – like Red Mango or Pinkberry. The small size with fruit mix-ins is a decent option for a healthy snack or dessert.

Simple Formula For Healthy Plane Snacks

Here are a few simple things to remember when you’re in the airport or on the plane to stay on track with your healthy eating lifestyle.

  • Avoid anything fried, or breaded and fried. Opt for baked or sautéd lightly in oil. Stir-fries often use too much oil.
  • Get the dressing on the side! Raw salads are awesome, but if you pour the dressing all over it you’re adding tons of fat and up to 400 calories. When you get the dressing on the side you have control over how much you add.
  • Fresh is always best: fresh fruits, fresh veggies – anything without added sauces, etc. are good.
  • Stick to Water: When it comes to drinks, avoid soda, juice, smoothies, or sugary drinks. It’s also important to stay hydrated. You can buy a large bottle of water in the airport to take with you on the plane. Or bring an empty water bottle, and fill it up once you enter the terminal.
  • Try to substitute as much as possible: wheat bread instead of white, egg whites instead of regular eggs, half the usual amount of cheese.
  • Don’t forget to keep cold things cold and follow perishable guidelines.

But the most important rule is: have fun and don’t stress out about eating healthy too much. If you indulge a few days, it’s not a big deal – just get back on track the next day. The point of vacation is to relax, so make sure you do! Happy travels everyone!

Check Out These Other Helpful Healthy Eating Guides!

32 responses to “Ultimate List of Plane Snacks for Long Flights”

  1. Thank you for these great suggestions. I love that these are not only healthy but great for travelers on a budget like me. You can still be healthy and enjoy foods all these new and exotic foods. It is also a really good idea to always carry a water bottle with you to stay hydrated.

    • No problem Hannah! And great point about the water bottle – that is one of the best ways to stay hydrated and healthy!

  2. I love that you have information for the traveler! We are going on a river rafting trip at the end of this month. I have been trying to decide what healthy food I can take that my kids will like. Some of this stuff looks perfect for what we will be doing. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. This is great! Another good tip is to drink ONLY water (unless you’re traveling third world, in which any soft drink or bottled option is a better way to go!) the entire trip; not only will it save you caffeine, calories and sugar, but drinking only water is great for sensitive stomachs and avoids any funky stomach bugs from milk that’s been left out too long at the bfast buffet or specialty drinks that haven’t been prepared properly.

    • That’s a great point! Drinking water is a good way to avoid empty calories as you mentioned 🙂 And if you are traveling in a 3rd world country, you can still drink bottled water or boiled water (just not tap water!)

    • Hi Era,

      If you’ll notice in my post – I point out that these are healthier options than the normal airport fare, and are alternatives if you’re stuck at the airport with absolutely nothing to eat. And actually, McDonald’s does have salads which are literally raw veggies and the dressing always comes on the side – so that is healthy (the veggies aren’t organic but it’s still much better than eating junk food), and they do have oatmeal in the morning which is just a packet of instant oats that’s cooked with hot water and served with fresh blueberries (you can get it without all the sugary add-ins which makes it a decent option if you have nothing else). Taco Bell does have the Al Fresco menu which is lower in fat and calories and still has the fiber and protein from their beans & veggies. None of it is organic, but again, it’s much better than eating fried foods or candy at the airport or starving. The airport is a limited space, and often people are stuck there for hours (especially on international flights), and sometimes a McDonald’s or a Taco Bell are the only options for food. In those situations, I’d recommend choosing the options I outline in this post vs. starving. We can’t eat perfectly all the time – it’s about balance and choosing the best option for you in your particular circumstance at the time. Hope that helps you understand what I’m advocating for in this post. Thanks!

      Anjali

  4. There is nothing better than being prepared with snacks! Especially when travelling! Thanks for this great list! I have never seen those Core Defender Bars before and that trail mix looks great! Well I might have a hard time sharing these snacks- I might just eat them all myself! 🙂

    • I completely agree, it just makes traveling so much easier and less stressful! The CORE Bars are great – they are seriously like a meal in a bar, 100% natural (only like 5 ingredients in each bar), and keep you full for HOURS. I have a hard time sharing too, so I always bring extra just in case! 🙂

  5. When I make PBJs they do NOT look as good as yours but they are definitely perfect for travelling!

    • aw haha – well let me tell you – after that PBJ has been in my carryon bag for a few hours, it doesn’t look like that either! but it stil tastes delicious 🙂

    • Totally! That’s one of my favorite things about summer – the AMAZING fruits!! 🙂 Farmer’s market here I come!

  6. Packing healthy snacks is such a great idea and I love that you mention packing cereals in plastic baggies! I do this all the time. My Kellogg’s FiberPlus cereal is pretty much a travel staple for me.

  7. Thank you very much for your tips! I am trying to lose weight and I will have to travel for four days next week. I was thinking a lot how to keep on dieting and your Guide was a very pleasant surprise…

  8. Packing snacks is the smartest thing! That goes for anything, even if you spend long days working away from home or a kitchen. Baby carrots and dried fruit are a favorite.

    • Absolutely! I always take snacks with me whenever I have an entire day out (so most work days and some weekends too!) Love baby carrots – sometimes they come with individual serving size packets of hummus which are the best!

  9. Great list! Since I first went to Italy by myself 8 years ago, I’ve been packing healthy snacks. When I travel, I tend to forget about eating until I am absolutely starving and lightheaded. This is SO not like me because I think about dinner at breakfast. So I always keep Luna bars with me. Seriously, I’ll pack a dozen of them before I leave. That way if I get trapped I have something.

    As for the meal, I haven’t done it, but I’ve got a flight one month today, so I might just try.

    • Thanks so much Jenn! Travel is tricky because you can be out all day, or on a weird schedule or jetlagged – all of which makes it hard to stay on a regular/”normal” eating schedule! I love packing “meal” bars – they’re non-perishable and great if you’re in a bind. Let me know how packing a meal goes for your trip next month! Where are you headed btw? Somewhere fun I hope! 🙂

  10. I often (every week) run into Einstein Bagels at airports, but only recently started going there when I found out they have a good ‘light’ menu for breakfast and lunch – Bagel Thin Eggwhite sandwhiches, and plenty of lunch options.

    • Oohhh great recommendation! I just went to their website and they have a TON of healthy options – the bagel thin eggwhite sandwiches (<300 calories, 5g fiber) being one of them! They also have a veggie soup that's only 100 calories, a honey whole wheat thin bagel with only 139 calories and 4g fiber, a fruit cup, and you can pretty much get any sandwich on a "thin bagel" which is a great option. Thanks for sharing Vivek! 🙂

      • That’s exactly what I did this morning at the airport — Einstein Bros’ honey whole wheat bagel with peanut butter! It was a really early morning flight but I usually try to pack snacks like an apple and string cheese, granola bar that you can crumble into a yogurt, or raw almonds and dark chocolate. Also good to note — when I am flying I avoid foods with a lot of salt or I end up with cankles and sausage fingers from water retention.

      • Those are great tips, thanks so much for sharing Val! And that Einstein Bros’ honey whole wheat bagel with peanut butter sounds SO good! 🙂

  11. Thanks for the tips – bringing your own is definitely the way to way to make sure it’s healthy and to save money!

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