By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD
Travel excuses never cease to amaze me. I hear them just as often from those flying first class to France as from those taking local road trips. And while the French Riviera-bound can cry me a river over the woes of extra legroom and endless champagne, it’s evidence that travel stress and the opportunity for a food court/rest stop feast will always exist.
I’m sorry, but greasy food court fare is not justifiable simply because options are limited. Sadly, this includes all monster pretzels and the real heartbreaker: those deliciously gooey cinnamon rolls.
There are plenty of ways to keep it healthy while traveling, and this time around, we’re going to talk about preparation.
You pack your toiletries and an emergency pair of socks and underwear. So it’s only common sense that you’d pack an emergency snack kit, right? In my dreams maybe, but it’s time to make a few ‘fridge-free snacks in your carry-on as essential as your iPod.
Your First-Aid (Food) Kit:
- Single packs of nut butter. I can’t imagine life without Justin’s Nut Butters and Barney Butter.
- Whole grain/seed crackers.
- Dark chocolate.
- Single-serving packs of almonds, walnuts, or pistachios.
- DIY trail mix.
- Healthy (operative word) nutrition bars. I’m a fan of Zing, Lara, Kind, Pure, and Bumble Bars.
- Some other ideas that take a bit of effort: Kale chips, homemade popcorn, and roasted chickpeas.
Now that you have the emergency stash under control, let’s talk travel day.
Don’t head to the airport or get on the road starving. This might sound crazy, but just because you don’t have much else to do, doesn’t mean you have to eat. I’m a big fan of books on tape and you’re never too old for travel games.
If you really want to impress me, bring your own meals. Go in the direction of a healthy sandwich or a salad.
- Driving: Don’t risk a 5-car pile up because you dropped the perfect bite. Pull over, eat (and text) your heart out, and then drive distraction-free.
- Flying: Don’t try to smuggle soup through airport security. You’d be surprised…
When it comes to snacks, your first-aid food kit is only half of the puzzle. The other half is from the fridge:
- Fruit and veggies: apples, berries, baby carrots, celery sticks, sliced peppers or cucumbers
- Paired with: cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hummus, almond butter, mozzarella string cheese or nitrite-free beef/turkey/salmon jerky
Not only is arming yourself with snacks healthier, it’s also far less expensive than stocking up at the newsstand. And, on the cost note, we can all agree that your airline (or company) isn’t offering much for free these days. But you’re not getting them back by letting them fatten you up on sugary, processed snacks while seat-belted – that much, I can promise you.
Tell me: Are you a planner or a food-court junkie when it comes to traveling? Any go-to travel snack (healthy or unhealthy)?
My topic next time: Plan B, what to do when you left your well-intentioned snacks to spoil on the counter.