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The holiday season is in full swing, which means that many of us will be doing a lot of traveling over the next few weeks. Whether you’re visiting family and friends or just treating yourself to an end-of-year vacation, you’ll want to make sure that your travels are as smooth and stress-free as possible. If you’re traveling by plane, one of the ways you can lower your stress is by planning ahead by packing food you can snack on throughout your day of travel. Having your own airplane snacks on-hand will not only will this save you money, but also it can also help you stick to some of your health goals and feel better during the holidays.
To get advice on which foods make the best airplane snacks, we spoke to a few dietitians about their favorite treats to munch on while in flight. And if traveling by car for your holiday excursions, be sure to also check out The Best & Worst Car Snacks for Your Next Roadtrip.
“Protein is essential to help you get full faster and stay full longer. But considering how lots of proteins have to be kept hot or cold, they can be a challenge to travel with,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD , author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Expert Medical Board.
Because this essential nutrient can be difficult to travel with, Goodson suggests bringing your favorite beef jerky with you on your next flight.
“Beef contains 10 essential nutrients including high-quality protein, selenium, zinc, and iron, making it a nutrient-rich snack for running through the airport or flying high in the sky,” says Goodson.
“As a registered dietitian that travels a lot, I’m all about having nutrient-rich snacks in my carry-on bag! And I love crunch, so some pistachios like Wonderful Pistachios are the perfect snack to have with me,” says Goodson.
Pistachios are not only convenient, but they can provide your body with helpful nutrients, as well.
“With 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving, these are the perfect snack for keeping me satisfied when traveling,” says Goodson. “Plus, 90% of the fat found in pistachios is the better-for-you unsaturated kind.”
“The trio of protein, fiber, fat may help you feel fuller longer after snacking,” she adds.
According to Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Family Immunity Cookbook, homemade trail mix can be a great snack for taking on the plane.
“I use whatever dried fruit, cereal, nuts, and seeds I have on hand,” Amidor says. “Since a huge bag of trail mix usually has lots of calories, I divide it into single snack bags, so I don’t overdo it and have a perfect amount every time.”
In addition to helping you avoid the airport convenience stores, saving you time and money, making your own trail mix ahead can also ensure you get some health-boosting ingredients as you travel.
“The nuts have protein and healthy fats, while the dried fruit has fiber—all of which are three nutrients that keep me feeling satisfied,” Amidor explains.
Another convenient and affordable snack to bring on your flight is some tasty fruit.
“I’m all about eating foods with lots of nutrients to help keep my immune system strong while traveling,” says Goodson. “Whole fruits like apples, strawberries, grapes, and bananas provide me with the nutrients to stay healthy and energized when on the go.”
When it comes to fruit for traveling, Amidor specifically loves packing Wonderful Halo Mandarins. “Halos are rich in vitamin C, which contributes to the normal function of the immune system, and each Halo mandarin is 45 calories and are hydrating because they are 85% water,” she says.
If you need a quick protein boost to keep you feeling full, but aren’t a fan of meat-based protein snacks like beef jerky, a protein bar can be a great choice.
“Protein bars can be a great solution for times when you are stuck on a tarmac, or didn’t get to grab a meal before you boarded the plane,” says Goodson. “But make sure to look for bars with a good blend of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to help you stay satisfied in the air until you can get to your next meal.”
When you’re choosing your travel snacks, don’t forget about a simple carrot and celery combination.
“As 90% of Americans don’t meet their daily vegetable recommendations, I try to include them in my diet every opportunity I get,” says Amidor. “When I’m taking a plane trip, I will pack sturdier veggies like celery and carrots that I can munch on during my trip.”
According to Amidor, vegetables also contain “filling fiber, antioxidants like the beta-carotene in carrots, and water, which helps keep me hydrated during my travels.”
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