Eating well when you travel can be quite a challenge, especially when you’re confined to the cabin of an airplane or the inside of a terminal for several hours. This is one topic I know well, as I was flight attendant for five years. With a little planning ahead, you can have healthful meals and snacks during your journey.
These days, unless you’re flying across multiple time zones, you’re not likely to be served anything other than a mini-bag of salty snacks. It’s okay to have these snacks as long as you 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, especially water. Alcoholic drinks or drinks with caffeine in them can contribute to dehydration. Tips for Eating Healthfully 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’re bound to get more fruits and vegetables than if you opt for the standard offering. On most airlines, in-flight meals will only be offered on trips that are 5+ hours.
Pack for your tummy as well as for your trip. A few resealable bags or small tupperware containers of healthful snacks can prove to be lifesavers when you’re somewhere over Kansas with no meal service in sight. Foods that are easy to pack and will not violate TSA rules are:
- Carrot sticks
- 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
- Peanut butter crackers
Tour the terminal. You’ll 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. 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
- 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
When you travel internationally, there are a few more factors that can make healthful eating difficult. For example, you may be faced with foods you don’t 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’ll 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.
Have fun on your adventure, and remember to be a savvy traveler!