The National Digest

How To Pack The Best Food For Travel

Whether you’re in a plane, train, or car, it’s important always to have good snacks.

Suitcases full of clothing get most of the scrutiny and forethought when preparing for a trip, but this is an unfortunate oversight. Figuring out what you’re going to eat while travelling is just as important as thinking about what you’re going to wear! This is my plea for you to start thinking about the edible contents of your carry-on as much as you do the wearables.

Having good food on hand can mean the difference between a hellish or heavenly experience. It prevents blood sugar crashes (to which I am prone), which affect mood and patience level. It minimizes disappointment because, let’s be honest, airplane food never hits the spot, and when you bring your own, you eat exactly what you want. It saves loads of money, almost enough to pay for another trip! (Well, not quite, but you get the picture.)

I don’t like to make sandwiches in advance because they get soggy, squished, and generally unappetizing after a few hours. Instead, I take sandwich parts and assemble them on the spot. For example, a wedge of hard cheese and a baguette or bag of soft rolls makes a delicious lunch on the go. If I need to make something in advance, I opt for wraps or breakfast burritos, as they’re less messy.

My go-to list consists of crackers, cheese, small container of hummus, pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs with salt, chopped vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, celery, peppers, and non-sticky fruits, like berries, apples, bananas.

Bake a batch of hearty, healthy oat or flaxseed muffins the morning of your trip. Another kid-pleaser is no-bake energy bars. One commenter suggested keeping logs of cookie dough in the freezer and slicing a few to bake ahead of departure. Flights are also my excuse to enjoy a decadent chocolate bar, such as Toblerone or salty caramel.

Some salads are surprisingly great to eat on the go. I liked this rule of thumb from Epicurious: “If you’d eat it at a cookout, you can eat it in the air.” So think corn-and-bean salad, tortellini pasta salad, grain salad, etc. Just keep it in a sealed container or jar that won’t leak dressing everywhere, and lay off the garlic.

Everyone has their snack preferences, but I love salty, savory snacks on airplanes. This craving has taught me that airport popcorn is exorbitantly expensive, which is why I’m totally making myself a bag next time I board a plane. Pack salted nuts of all kinds, wasabi peas, moon cheese, sesame rice crackers, roasted chickpeas, pretzels, or whatever else you enjoy munching on.

Remember, the flight attendants offer boiling water for tea, so there’s no reason why they can’t pour that into your cup of instant oatmeal, your mug of peppermint tea, or your bowl of miso soup. Yes, you can recreate your own comforting rituals in the air!

– Eat in order of perishability. For example, make sure you get to the salads and fruits before demolishing the crackers and cheese.

– It’s not a bad thing to have a few containers on hand during a trip. You can use them to snag leftovers from the hotel breakfast buffet or buy impromptu snacks at an open-air market. But you should have some lightweight options, too, such as beeswax bags/wraps or silicone food storage bags.

– Take paper towels, a paper napkin, or a washcloth. Whatever you do, don’t make a mess of your seat table or everyone around will hate you. Keep your food in a drawstring bag so you can put it away easily and neatly.

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