Nourishing Food for Family Air Travel

Since we don’t have fast food joints that sell organic whole foods, or convenience stores selling vegetables and freshly made soups, we need to pack our own food for traveling. If you have a child with food allergies, you know that this task is even more important! Children also have a high metabolic rate and need to eat more often than adults. A long road trip or airplane trip means snacks, right? The types of snacks you pack can make all the difference in keeping everyone happy. Sugary, nutrient-deficient foods won’t necessarily lead to calm behaviors on such a stressful day. Instead, choose simple, whole foods that travel well.

The Three P’s

Plan: Make a list of what you will bring on the plane at least four days before the trip. This way you can go to the store and pick up any necessary ingredients.

Prep: Make any food the day before your trip that can be prepped early. Cut up carrots, celery, or cucumbers. Make a whole grain salad. Bake a loaf of bread for sandwiches. Pop some popcorn. The morning before you leave, cut up apples, make sandwiches, and do whatever else needs to be prepped the day of the trip.

Pack: For air travel, use small insulated lunch packs with an inserted frozen pack to keep things that can spoil easily cool. We like to dedicate one small roller bag for food. One of the kids is always responsible for it. This keeps everything in one place so if we want to have a picnic in the airport we can. Also, everyone knows where to go if they are hungry on a flight. For road trips, we like to pack a large cooler full of green smoothies, grain and bean salads, sandwiches, raw nut and date truffles, and fresh vegetables. Always remember to pack a roll of paper towels to use as placemats and for clean up.

Air Travel Security Regulations

Liquids: Of course you all know that you need to buy water once you get through security, but if you have a baby or toddler you can take water or formula in a bottle through security. Breast milk is also permitted through security, even if you are not traveling with your infant.

Food: Did you know that almond butter and hummus are considered creams/lotions and have to be in three-ounce containers or less? But if six ounces of almond butter is spread onto four sandwiches, it is okay! Another gray area with “creamy” foods: if you are traveling with young children, it doesn’t matter if you bring a 12-ounce container of hummus through security. If you don’t have very young children, then play it safe and make sure these types of foods are packed in 3-ounce sized containers or less.

Healthy Foods for Travel

  • Sugar snap peas
  • Cherries
  • Apple slices (squeeze lime juice on them to prevent browning)
  • Radishes
  • Cucumber slices
  • Carrot and celery sticks
  • Whole grain, vegetable, and bean salads*
  • Sandwiches (turkey and lettuce, or almond butter and jam)
  • Smoked salmon
  • Hummus
  • Nori rolls with sticky brown rice*
  • Homemade popcorn popped in coconut oil (packed in a paper bag)
  • Fruit leathers
  • Homemade high-protein muffins
  • Dried mango
  • Crackers (we like Mary’s Gone Crackers)
  • Cubed, steamed yams (for baby)
  • Soaked and dehydrated almonds
  • Dates (one for each person as a sweet treat)

*For recipes, visit

Tips for Traveling with Children

  • Don’t bring chocolate or sugary foods. The goal is a happy, calm child, right?
  • Make sure your child has had enough sleep to be able to handle a stressful day of travel and time zone changes.
  • We have each child pack a backpack of things to do on the plane. They bring activity books and crayons, books, wool yarn to finger knit with, and a movie for the computer.
  • Before we go anywhere, we will research our destination and map out the nearest health food store and healthy restaurants. We always rent a place that has a kitchen or kitchenette to be able to prepare much of our own food. This saves money and allows us to know what we are actually eating!

Written by Alissa Segersten

Tags: Kid Friendly Magazine
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