Raise your hand if you are getting on a plane this week.
My hand is up and I’m sure a lot of you out there have yours up, too. Going home (or in my case, to my husband’s home) for the holidays is fun and exciting, but air travel itself can be full of stressors. With all of that on your mind, your meals might be the last thing you think about, but a little pre-planning can make your time flying the friendly skies healthy and stress free (at least when it comes to the food). Here are some of my tips:
- Face the facts. There is only one way to guarantee what you’ll have to eat during your flight—pack it yourself. It may seem overwhelming to add another thing to the packing list, but I find that having my food ready to go and in my carry-on is calming. No worrying if you are going to have time to stop between connections. No worrying about what’s available near your gate. Pack it yourself and you are set.
- Know the rules. Make sure to check security regulations before heading to the airport. The most important thing to know is that yes, you can take food past security. Many people think food will be confiscated in the security line, but just as long as it is solid food, I’ve never had a problem. Avoid packing yogurts, honey, or milk or anything else that is gelatinous or liquid. Also, make sure to bring an empty water bottle to fill up past security. Traveling is very dehydrating and having your own water bottle is handy and economical.
- Keep it cold. Another thing you need to leave behind? Your ice packs. The gel inside of them isn’t allowed past security. To keep your food cold, freeze some seedless grapes the night before your flight. In a baggy, they can act like an edible ice pack. Plus, frozen grapes are an awesome healthy, cold snack.
- Breakfast aboard. If you have an early morning flight, skip past the long line at the one coffee shop in the terminal and instead create breakfast on the plane. In your carry-on, pack a low or no sugar instant oatmeal packet and a plastic spoon. When it’s time for drink service, just ask for a half cup full of hot water and mix in your packet. If you need to up the filling power, grab a handful of trail mix from your packed snacks and toss it on top.
- Plan for you. Do you have a nervous stomach when you fly? Pack some ginger or peppermint candies. Are you always cold on planes? Pack your favorite tea bag to use during drink service. Do you like to eat to pass time (I do!)? Pack low-calorie snacks like carrot or celery sticks that you can nibble on in air. No matter what your plan of attack for airport eating, you need to remember you and your family’s personal quirks, and plan accordingly.
- Find the good options. If you decide not to pack your own food, make sure you scope out the good options in the airport. In recent years, there has been a major uptick in healthy choices in the terminal. I even found a local and organic restaurant in an airport this summer! Just because the Burger King is the closest to your gate, it doesn’t mean you have to eat a Whopper. Plus, if you avoid the moving sidewalks, you get some exercise by searching for the best options. Win, win.
Do you pack your food when you travel by air? If so, what’s your favorite thing to pack?
12/22/2011 at 8:59 AM