Trying to stay healthy while travelling the world can be tricky. It’s sometimes tempting to just grab food on the go, but pre-packaged snacks can be unhealthy, unsatisfying and for some contain dietary triggers that leave them feeling unwell.
It’s even worse when taking planes, buses and trains. Plane food isn’t appetising at the best of times and costs a fortune on budget airlines. When travelling by bus and train, there’s rarely an option to purchase something to eat, let alone something healthy. That’s why being prepared and planning ahead pays off. Luckily, there are plenty of healthy travel snacks to take on your journey – these ones deserve a place in your hand luggage.
Healthy travel snacks when travelling by plane
Many assume that you can’t bring any food onto a plane, but there are plenty of airline approved snacks that taste great and are a much healthier alternative to the standard reheated mush.
Of course, liquid based foods like soups, smoothies and honey will get you stopped at security; but do you really want to try slurping soup during a bout of turbulence anyway? Most other foods are fine, but you need to be careful if taking fruit and veg as some countries have strict regulations about which fresh produce you can bring in. Here are some of our recommended healthy travel snacks for flying:
- A homemade sandwich: Easy to grab food that doesn’t require cutlery is always a winner. A handy cool bag opens up your choice of filling to things like chicken and mayo. Otherwise, hardier options that can go without refrigeration for a few hours (like hard cheese, salami, peanut butter) are your best bet.
- Granola bars: Avoid unappetising plane breakfasts by stocking up on granola bars instead.
- Rice cakes: Individual sachets of nut butter or hummus can help liven up the humble rice cake. The toppings might be classed as liquid, but individual serving pots come under the 100ml limit. #lifehack
- Dried fruit: An easy way to get your five a day.
- Popcorn: You don’t need an in-flight movie to enjoy this one but it helps! Popcorn is surprisingly rich in fibre too.
- Bananas: Full of potassium and will keep you energised for hours. Just make sure they don’t get squashed!
Healthy travel snacks for long bus and train travel
The good news is that staying healthy during bus and train travel can be a little easier, as you’re not limited by airport restrictions. Here’s what we suggest:
- Smoothies: Not an option when flying but a great way to get a fruit and veg hit when travelling via bus and train. Your best bet is to make one as close to departure as possible, or make in advance and freeze, buying you some time whilst it defrosts.
- Porridge pots: These are great for easy breakfasts and the oats will keep you full for hours. Simply add hot water and stir! Hot water facilities are sometimes available on board fancier trains, but train/bus stations and service station stop-off points should have access. If not, homemade overnight oats stored in a kilner jar are a good alternative and can be eaten cold!
- Beef jerky: Packed full of protein but no refrigeration required. It has a long shelf life so is perfect for those overnight journeys.
- Pretzels and tortilla chips: Keep these snacks on hand to ward off hunger pangs. Tortilla Chips are usually gluten-free too. Feeling ultra-healthy? Swap tortilla chips for kale chips instead.
- Individual dairy free cartons: You can now get dairy-free milk in handy single-serve cartons. It’s not only healthier, but longer lasting than cow’s milk. Keep this in your bag to drink by itself or add to porridge or hot drinks.
- Rehydration sachets: You’re at a higher risk of dehydration when travelling to hotter climes – and this is even more prominent on long journeys where you’re not drinking as much as usual. Rehydration sachets (usually in the form of an electrolyte mix) help avoid dehydration and are also vital when battling local tummy bugs. If you can’t find any, coconut water is a good alternative.
Healthy food to avoid when travelling
Sometimes even the healthiest foods can be a disaster to take with you when travelling. Here’s what we recommend giving a miss…
- Boiled eggs: A great snack and sandwich-filler, but we wouldn’t want to be you when you discover them at the bottom of your backpack after a week.
- Soup: It’s just too messy and difficult to heat up.
- Tuna or seafood: Not only will your travelling pals not be happy with the smell it gives off, but it can be unsafe to store this without proper refrigeration.
- Soft Cheese: While hard cheese can usually last the distance, softer cheeses (like camembert and brie) warm up quickly, leading them to rapidly spoil and let off a pretty vile odor as they do so!
Healthy travel snacks: storage essentials
It’s great to stock up on snacks but make sure you’ve got the proper containers to store them. Use air-tight containers or kilner jars to avoid spillage. Leak-proof water bottles that use stainless steel can be a godsend too – these keep liquids cold for 24 hours or hot drinks warm for 12. Finally, eating on the go can get messy so pack plenty of napkins and rubbish bags to dispose of your healthy treats too!
So there you have it – the best snacks for staying healthy while in transit. For more tips, check out the Body Coach’s advice for cooking quick, healthy hostel meals!
About the author
Jenna Farmer is a freelance journalist from Warwickshire. Having spent several years working in China and travelling across South Asia, she’s now back in the UK. Jenna also runs A Balanced Belly, a blog all about living, eating and travelling with food intolerances.