Eating Healthy on Vacation: On the Plane

Eating healthily on vacation can be a challenge. Here are simple tips for how to make healthier choices at the airport, on the airplane and on the road.

Eating healthily on vacation can sometimes be a challenge. Junk food temptations begin to creep in as vacation mindset takes over. And while a few indulgences are (more than) okay, most of us still want to maintain our family’s healthy eating habits as we travel.

Check out these simple tips for how to make healthier decisions when options are often limited: at the airport, on the airplane and on the road.

  • Before Your Flight: Eat a healthy meal before heading to the airport and pack nutritious snacks or a meal to carry on. Though many airports feature stores offering grab-and-go healthy snack packs, packing your own will save you money and give you more control over your eating decisions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends firm fruits like apples, washed and chopped vegetables like celery and carrots, low-fat cheeses, whole-grain crackers, and high-protein choices such as almonds. Though travelers are limited to three ounces of liquid while flying, the TSA’s guidelines for traveling with children outlines some exceptions. Also, pack an empty water bottle to fill up at the water fountain after clearing airport security.

  • During Your Flight: Drink water — then drink more water. Carbonated and alcoholic beverages can be dehydrating and contribute to jet lag. Remember that fatty foods with added sugars may make you feel tired and groggy, but protein gives you energy and keeps you feeling full. For longer flights, consider bringing a small cooler on wheels as a carry-on item. Keep your food cool by adding frozen gel ice packs, which are permitted as long as they are fully frozen at security. (Note that if they are slushy or melted, the 3-ounce liquid limitation will apply.) Carrying on a cooler allows you to store healthy, fresh options for you and your family to eat onboard or at the airport in case of flight delays.

  • After Your Flight: Ease jet lag and fatigue by staying hydrated. Before hitting the road, fill up your water bottle again and grab an apple or orange. Peanuts, almonds and walnuts help satisfy hunger and give you energy. Keep a supply of these power foods with you or in your rental car so you’re prepared for any snack attacks.

Most importantly, have fun and chill – even when your children insist on an ice cream cone. A little indulgence is allowed. After all, you are on vacation!

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About the Author

Nell Anne Hunt serves as a trustee for the Irving Independent School District in Irving, Texas. One of her main concerns in this role has been the nutrition of students who are 80 percent below the poverty line.