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Travel Smart: Snacks to Pack When You Fly


Recently, I've found myself on planes a bit more than usual, and that means I've had lots of airport terminal time. I'm trying to keep with a healthy eating plan, and the healthy options behind the TSA checkpoints are a bit iffy. "Healthy" food stands are short on truly healthy options--a Caesar salad, the lowest calorie option I could find for lunch while on my way to Chicago last month, had more than 500 calories. And the prices! A bag of pistachios, which had 5 servings, was $15. That's why I've learned to adopt the Boy Scout motto when it comes to flying and eating: "Be prepared."

TSA has rules about what you can and can't bring with you. You'll have to purchase your water once you're through security, but all of these options are TSA-friendly.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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1) Almonds. Nuts are great to keep in your carry-on, backpack, or purse. They pack easily, are very filling, and provide a rich serving of fats, fiber, and protein. To avoid overeating, buy a larger bag and separate into smaller servings in zip-top bags or reusable pill boxes.

2) Single-Serve Nut Butter Packets. Small jars are too big for security, but individual packets are just right. They're mess-free, easy to tote, and one packet acts as a great snack. Eat it by itself, or buy an apple or banana in the airport. I like Justin's and Betsy's Best.

3) Instant Oatmeal. I save money when traveling by eating breakfast in my hotel room, but there's no reason you can't bring oatmeal as a snack, too. Stop by a coffee shop, ask for a cup of hot water, an extra cup, and a spoon. Combine, stir, and you've got a portable breakfast or filling snack.

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Five Things to Do Before Every Flight

We all know that flights are not the highlight of any trip. Whether a short commute or a long-haul flight around the globe, there are preparations you can take to ensure a smoother and more comfortable journey.

Here are my top things to do before a flight!


TSA-Approved Snacks to Pack for Your Next Flight

Airline food tends to be expensive and bland with limited options available. And who needs it? Contrary to popular belief, you can actually get some tasty food through airport security.

Why not save some cash and indigestion by bring your own meals and snacks for your next flight? Packing food for long journeys is one of the best habits I’ve developed in my years of travel.

Here are the best TSA-approved snacks to pack for your next flight!

  • Trail Mix: This is a popular and all-around great pick. You can grab some on the way there or stop by the grocery store to do a super easy DIY blend. I love to make my own with popcorn, seeds, nuts, and dried fruit for a custom mix of my faves.
  • Beef Jerky: A good pick for a dose of protein, beef jerky (or veggie “faux” jerky) is as simple as it gets. Of course, you’ll want to be considerate of smells when you’re on a plane, so avoid huge bags or crazy seasoning.
  • Protein Bars: It doesn’t get any easier than this. I love KIND Bars, Square Organics, and RX Bars. Again, keep other passengers in mind by avoiding peanut butter in the case someone has an allergy.

  • Instant Oatmeal: For early flights, I love to put some instant oats into a jar for a hearty and warm breakfast. Just ask for hot water when you get on the plane, and you’re ready to go. Try Better Oats for a convenient 100 calorie pack!
  • Veggies and Hummus: Toss some pre-cut veggies into a resealable bag, and then grab a container of hummus. Just keep in mind that creamy dips, spreads, dressings, sauces, and salsas are subject to the 3.4-ounce liquid restriction.
  • Salad: Avoid the liquid restriction by adding dressing to your salad right before you go through security! If you time it right, you can avoid soggy lettuce and have a fresh salad ready to go.

  • Sandwich or Wrap: Mustard and mayo packets are a good way to minimize the amount of liquids you’re dealing with while maximizing flavor. It’s also a smart idea to use lettuce as a barrier between the bread or wrap and the sandwich toppings.
  • Nut Butter Packets: I love packing Artisana Organics organic cashew nut butter along with fruite. Just be sure to opt for hard fruit only since soft picks will get squished.
  • Cheese and Crackers: Solid cheese doesn’t count as a liquid, so go for snacks like string cheese or Babybel cheese. These cheeses can go up to four hours without refrigeration, and they are perfect with crackers.
  • Sweet: Even if you have just a minute to stop by a convenience store, pick up some candy, cookies, or whatever you’re into. As soon as you get to the airport, these treats are way pricier, and you’ll have fewer options.
  • Salty: Did you know that being in an airplane reduces your taste bud’s sensitivity to sweet and salty foods by 30 percent? That is why food tastes so bland when you’re in the air! And it’s a good excuse to stock up on flavorful potato chips, nuts, and pretzels.
  • Yogurt: Strangely enough, yogurt is considered a liquid, so you won’t get a pot through. I highly recommend bringing a reusable bag of granola then grabbing a yogurt on the other side of security.

To prevent dehydration, drink one glass of water for every hour that you fly. It’s best to avoid alcohol too, but if you’re really in the mood for a drink, keep it moderate. Check out my favorite reuseable water bottles too!

HELPFUL TIP: If you have been looking to get a travel reward credit card, I recommend applying for one before a big trip or purchase. Some of the biggest benefits are earning points to use for free flights and hotels. Plus, many cards offer additional points when making travel-related purchases. Some cards also offer travel protection when you pay for a trip with the card.

My personal favorite is the Chase Sapphire Reserve (for frequent travelers) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred (if you’re just starting out)! Check out my favorite travel reward credit cards!


When you're traveling, packing jerky is a great snack to have on hand because it will keep you full and everyone loves it. Jerky also comes in so many different flavors and styles that I am pretty sure you can find a type everyone will like.

String Cheese is an easy snack you can pop in your bag and it goes with everything else you packed: apples, crackers, and jerky. It is a super simple food that will keep you staying happy. Plus, I'm pretty sure string cheese is one of the best snack because you can put it with so many different foods, or have it by itself and it's just as tasty.


A Nutritionist’s Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling

I’ve traveled a lot lately, and have even set a new personal record with over a dozen plane rides thus far this year. I’ve been in airports with lots of options, and in others with surprisingly few — and figured out what’s worth buying and what’s a must-pack snack. Plan ahead by using my tips to BYO and make smart on-the-fly buys.

Pack small liquid-y snacks. Creamy snacks like yogurt and applesauce count as liquids or gels when you’re going through security, so buy them in snack-size containers smaller than 3.4 ounces, or pack your own in leakproof containers.

Scout a healthy breakfast. Omelets and oatmeal are good go-tos. Many terminals have Starbucks, which offers an oatmeal with little added-sugar — that is, if you skip the brown sugar packet that comes with it (the dried cranberries and cherries are already sweetened with a little sugar). Mix in the packet of nuts, then add a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you prefer fresh fruit, swap the dried fruit for a side of blueberries or a banana.

Pack your own munchies. By bringing a snack bag of healthy foods, you’ll be prepared and likely to save money. Good go-tos are fruit-and-nut bars (or your own homemade energy bites, like my Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites). You can also tote along snack-size favorites.

Teabag in a cup extreme close up

Photo by: Calvin Stevenson

Hydrate! You might be parched if you wait for beverage service to roll through the aisles. So consider carrying an empty water bottle in your travel bag that you can fill once you’ve passed through security. And remember: Tea hydrates too. While most airlines serve only black tea, expand your options by packing your own tea bags (such as soothing peppermint tea) and asking for hot water on board. Fruits like pears, oranges and strawberries are also hydrating. Delicate berries hold their shape if you pack them in a hard-sided container, versus a plastic bag.

Bring your own mix-ins. Love hemp hearts, cinnamon or almond butter as a topping for Greek yogurt or oatmeal? Instead of leaving it to chance that you’ll find your favorites in an airport shop, plan ahead and bring them with you.

Skip the salt. Airplanes tend to have lower humidity, which can lead to dehydration. Salty processed snacks like chips, as well as salted nuts, only help speed along that parched feeling while you’re on board.


20+ Healthy Foods to Pack When You Travel

Hitting the road this summer? Whether traveling by car or plane you can still make healthy choices.

By the time you turn the corner, everyone in the car is begging for food. The last thing you want to do is bring a never-ending supply of junk. Instead, pack a few good-for-you mess-free meals and snacks. To keep things fresh, bring a cooler (the traditional kind or one that plugs into the car).

  • Whole-grain pasta salad or quinoa salad
  • Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Hard-boiled egg and cheese in a whole-wheat pita
  • Sliced fresh fruit like melon and berries
  • Snack bar
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cheese and whole-grain crackers

If you end up having to hit the quick mart anyway, look for the smarter choices:

  • Whole-grain pretzels
  • Hummus cups
  • Coffee or tea (nothing fancy)
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Small bowl of oatmeal

These days, most flights don’t provide food (or they sell mostly junk), so if you want to stay on track with your healthy eating goals, advanced planning is a must. If you're counting on purchasing food at the airport or on board, you'll pay a pretty penny, plus not all airports carry healthy fare. Instead, pack a few sandwiches and snacks such as:

  • Cucumber and whipped cream cheese on whole-wheat bread
  • Peanut butter and jelly on rye
  • Grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato and mustard in a whole-grain wrap
  • Hummus with sliced tomato, pepper and cucumber in a whole-wheat pita
  • String cheese
  • Hummus cups
  • Whole fruit (plums, peaches, banana)
  • Cut vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery)

As you can't bring liquids (or ice!) into the airport terminal, place the food in a small insulated pouch and bring empty resealable plastic bags. At the airport fill the resealable plastic bags with ice to make your own ice pack.

Traveling always makes me hungry, and the last thing I want to do is check into my hotel and run to the vending machine. Instead, I ask ahead if there is a supermarket nearby and if the room has a refrigerator and microwave oven.

At the supermarket, I pick up easy finger foods that require little or no prep, such as fruits, pre-cut veggies or baby carrots, dry roasted nuts, Greek yogurt, and whole-grain cereal and milk. If I know there's a microwave, I will pre-make several brown bags with popcorn kernels to pop in the microwave.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »


13 Smart Ways to Stay Healthy on a Road Trip

Is there anything that screams &ldquofreedom&rdquo and &ldquosummer&rdquo more than a few friends, a dusty car, and the open road? The road trip has been immortalized in American pop music, literature, and movies since the invention of the automobile at the end of the 19 th century. But more often than not, road trips go hand-in-hand with unhealthy road foods (fried onions, anyone?), cramped legs, and sunburned noses. This summer, try these tips for a road trip that&rsquos fun, entertaining, safe, and &mdash best of all &mdash healthy.

On the Road &mdash Your Action Plan

1. Bring smart snacks.
Fill a cooler with ice or cool packs and load it with plenty of nutritious, easy-to-eat snacks like low-sugar yogurt cups (choose plain or Greek to avoid mega-doses of sugar), string cheese, fresh fruit, homemade granola bars , cut-up veggies and hummus, healthy trail mix (keep track of portions to stay out of dangerfood territory), unsalted nuts, dried seaweed snacks, or preservative-free meat jerky .

2. Choose water.
Bring a few reusable (BPA-free) water bottles and fill &lsquoem up at every rest stop. If overnight lodgings include a freezer, chill bottles while you sleep for ice-cold H20 all day long. Avoid soda and creamy, sweet coffee drinks, which pack unnecessary sugar and fat and (if caffeinated) actually contribute to dehydration.

3. Stretch your legs (and shoulders and neck).
Stop frequently (at least a few times a day) to get out of the car, move around, and do a few stretches. The hip flexors, lower back, shoulders, and neck are most likely to tense up after a few hours at the wheel Association between sitting and occupation LBP. Lis AM, Black KM, Korn H, Nordin M. Occupational and Industrial Orthopaedic Center, New York, NY, USA. The European Spine Journal. 2007 February 16(2):283-98. . If the road runs along a national park or other hiking terrain, consider making a pit stop every once in a while for a short walk in the woods.

4. Don&rsquot forget the SPF.
No trucker burn here! Windshields and windows might keep the bugs out of the car, but they don&rsquot fully protect our skin from the sun. Slather on some broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher at regular intervals to keep skin safe.

5. Keep eyes on the prize.
A good set of sunglasses is essential to protecting eyes from the sun. Exposure to too much sunshine can damage vision and even cause certain kinds of eye cancers. Light-colored eyes are often more sensitive to light, so blue, green, or grey-eyed guys and gals should take especial care to protect peepers from the sun. Bring along a pair of high-quality sunnies that protect against UVA, UVB, and HEV light. A polarized pair can help cut down on glare, making driving safer and more enjoyable.

6. BYO gym.
No treadmill? No problem. Pack sneakers, gym clothes, and small exercise equipment like resistance bands or a yoga mat to turn any quick stretch break into a mini-workout. Print out (or save on a smartphone) plenty of bodyweight workouts for hotel rooms or mornings when other road-trippers are moving slowly.

7. Practice perfect posture.
Especially if driving for more than one day, comfort in the driver&rsquos (or passenger&rsquos) seat is essential. Adjust the seat and bring pillows and seat supports to make the car seat as comfy (and ergonomically correct) as possible. Sit up tall and take frequent breaks to roll the shoulders, stretch the neck, and realign posture.

8. Stay engaged at the wheel.
Don&rsquot just sit there like a bump on a log! It&rsquos not exactly an hour-long cardio-fest, but even when sitting in traffic you can suck in the abs and squeeze the glutes to keep muscles working.

9. Choose meals wisely.
There are only so many carrot sticks a person can eat before hankering for a real, hot meal. From fast food drive-ins to gas station markets, road food is notoriously unhealthy. For a lighter meal, look for grilled items, plenty of greens, and don&rsquot be shy about asking for a sauce on the side.

10. Go loosey goosey.
Tight tops and snug shorts may look fine at &ldquoda club,&rdquo but they can be darn uncomfortable for hours in the car. Choose loose, light layers to aid circulation and prevent chafing and overheating. Compression socks look dorky, but they can prevent achy muscles (and in more extreme circumstances, deep vein thrombosis, a condition where blood clots form in the legs after sitting for a long time) if you&rsquore planning on long stretches of sitting.

11. Get plenty of rest.
&ldquoDrowsy driving&rdquo isn&rsquot just unpleasant it&rsquos downright dangerous. Get off the road when feeling sleepy or alternate drivers to keep fresh eyes on the road at all times.

12. Keep the brain active.
What&rsquos a road trip without a bumpin&rsquo playlist and plenty of off-key singing at the top of your lungs? The tunes make the trip, but an audiobook or podcast can help pass the time when travel buddies are too tired for a sing-a-long. Everyone will learn something new, exercise their brains, and a bit of new knowledge or an interesting story will make the miles fly by.

13. Be flexible.
Unless scurrying cross-country to meet a specific deadline, factor in an extra day or two of travel time. That way there&rsquos plenty of time to explore a hidden waterfall a few miles off-road, take plenty of scenic detours, and keep the overall mood stress-free.

Special thanks to Greatist Expert Dr. Phil Page for his help with the posture section of this article.

Have you ever gone on a road trip? What&rsquos your best tip for staying happy and healthy on the road? Share in the comments below or tweet the author @SophBreene.


25 Healthy Travel Airplane Snacks to Keep In Your Carry-On

These filling snacks are better than any airport find.

Whether it's a quick flight to a nearby state or an hours-long transatlantic journey, you never want to board a plane without some snacks. Especially when presented with those hard-to-resist airline-issued snack packs, which can be loaded with sodium and high in calories.

From chocolate-covered almonds to homemade quinoa-plum muffins, these 25 nutrient-dense (and absolutely delicious) snacks are the perfect, healthy travel companions.

Already shelled and salted, Wonderful Pistachios are a great on-the-go snack. They're low in calories, high in protein, and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. To make this snack part of a nutritious meal, registered dietitian Jaclyn London suggests pairing an ounce of pistachios with Stuff'd vine leaves & dried pineapple. You can find more even more travel snack hacks in her book, Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked).

Skip the in-flight bag of pre-packaged snack mix and make your own ahead of time. Once you pick your ingredients &mdash we suggest pretzels, pecans, almonds, peanuts, Cheerios and pepitas &mdash season them, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 15 minutes. By bringing your own mix, you can snack with ease knowing exactly what's in your food.

Crunchy, salty and perfectly cheesy &mdash what more do you need in a snack? Moon Cheese is high in protein, gluten-free, and a great source of calcium, giving standard cheese puffs a run for their money.

Snacking on one of these cucumber tea sandwiches is a great way to feel fancy without spending the money to fly first class. Make these ahead of time with whole grain bread, hummus, and cucumbers.

Almonds are always a smart snacking choice, since they're high in antioxidants, packed with vitamins, and nutrient-dense. But tossed in salt'n'vinegar seasoning they're practically irresistible. Pair with hummus and a part-skim string cheese to make this a full meal, suggests Jaclyn London, a registered dietitian and author of Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked).

These muffins turn your kids' favorite lunch into a travel-size snack, and will definitely make your seat-mate jealous. Whip up a batch of these delectable bites the night before your flight and package them in individual baggies to make distributing them to your children in-flight an easier&ndash and cleaner!&ndash experience.

Both delicious and good for you, Biena's roasted and seasoned chickpeas are packed with protein and fiber. With 78% less fat than peanuts, making the swap should be an easy choice.

Made with cherries, molasses, and candied ginger, each bite of these hermit bars is a burst of delicious flavors. Make these ahead of time and be prepared to dole out seconds (and maybe even thirds) as your flight progresses.

Get the rec ipe.

More delicious than the standard airplane nut mix, you can grab a pack before you hit the airport or at a news stand when you get there. Nutrition expert Jacklyn London, author of Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked), suggests pairing one pack with two hard-boiled eggs and a handful of fresh berries.

These bite-sizes cuties hit the spot when you're craving something equal parts sweet and salty. Make these the day before your flight: they only take 20 minutes to prepare!

These crunchy, savory cheese puffs are made of &ndash you guessed it &ndash chickpeas! Packed with fiber and protein, these organic Hippeas snacks are a health-conscious swap that doesn't skimp on flavor.

Beware: these muffins, made with protein-packed quinoa, are hard to stop eating! Great to have as a healthy breakfast on-the-go, these muffins can be made a few days before your trip just cover with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.

These gluten-free Bare strawberry banana chips taste like a smoothie. Munch on them on their own or crumble on top of fat-free greek yogurt to add texture to the meal.

With only five minutes of prep time, you can easily make these while getting ready for your trip. Pop the eggplant slices into the oven before you start packing and come back 50 minutes later to the chips you'll be crunching on during your flight.

If you're craving cheesy Doritos, reach for a bag of these bean-based chips instead. With 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and a whole lot of flavor, you can't go wrong.

This delicious chocolate bark is the perfect travel companion. Cover it with heart-healthy ingredients that pack flavor, crunch, and a salty finish into every bite.

At 80 calories a stick, Sargento string cheese is an obvious choice for one of the best on-the-go snacks. Pack a stick or two and eat with a handful of nuts and a crisp apple for a satisfying in-flight meal.

Potato chips can be hard to resist. For a healthier option, add these these fauxtato chips, made from radishes (surprise!), in your carry-on. Make the night before a trip and crunch on these salty crisps all flight long.

Sometimes, you just can't resist a chocolate peanut butter cup. In those moments, reach for Theo's version. It's made with 85% dark chocolate, which is packed with antioxidants and promotes heart health in moderation.

These chewy balls are packed with protein, and may just be your go-to breakfast the next time you have a day of travel ahead of you. These no-bake, poppable treats are made with peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and a few different kinds of seeds full of rich antioxidants.

These crunchy granola bites are only 120 calories for an entire bag and they're nutritionist-approved. In fact, they're Woman's Day nutrition-expert Joy Bauer, RD's own recipe.

It's hard to resist a peanut butter-chocolate combo. Thankfully, with these Keto-diet-approved cookies, you don't have to. Bake a batch the night before so your kids will have something sweet to nosh on during your flight.

Is there anything better than cherries and dark chocolate? These Larabar truffles are made with dates, almonds and dark chocolate &ndash and they're dairy-free to boot!

Slightly sweet and packed with flavor, this banana bread is easy to make and perfect to pack as a quick breakfast. Make this recipe your own by adding in a few mix-ins. We recommend chocolate chips, because, well, duh.


United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."

Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.


Flights of less than 900 miles (think slightly beyond Denver):

Main cabin: Beverages (water, canned drinks) by request only no alcohol or snacks.

First class: You may ask for an alcoholic drink, but not before departure.

Flights of 900 to 2,200 miles (think Orlando, Fla., or Pittsburgh) or less than 4½ hours:

Main cabin: Bottled water, pretzels or Biscoff cookies at boarding no alcohol or food for purchase.

First, business: No drinks before departure alcohol on request. Biscoff or pretzels maybe a fruit and cheese plate

Flights of 4½ hours or longer or more than 2,200 miles long-haul flights (think Hawaii or New York City):
Main cabin: Water, canned drinks or juice, plus pretzels or Biscoff. No snacks for sale forget alcohol (except on international flights)

Business, first class: You can get drinks but not before departure. Besides the same offerings you get in the main cabin, you may get a fruit and cheese plate and a meal.

Unintended coronavirus effect: Nuts that once were served to elite fliers are no longer in demand, the Wall Street Journal reported. GreatNuts.com is selling its excess for $12.95 for 1 pound. That’s about 64 cents a pound — 34 cents more per pound than Planters nuts cost on Amazon.


Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2015. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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