Airport eats: snacks to pack for the airport and your flight

If my mind was a pie chart there would be a large slice labeled Intense Thoughts about Snacks.  A subcategory of that slice would be Travel Snacks with a sub-subcategory for Airport Snacks.  And since we’re about to leave for a trip my Intense Thoughts about Snacks mind wedge is in full planning mode.

Most airport food is disgusting, innutritious and preposterously overpriced—fight back and bring your own.  Here are some considerations when planning your airport eats:

  • Work with the TSA rules.  Since liquids or gels (except for 3 ounce containers inside a quart zip-loc) are not allowed, bring food without heavy sauces.  We carry an empty water bottle and fill it from a water fountain once we go through the security check point.
  • Plan snacks for different phases of your journey.  Fresh food is great for a pre-flight mini meal.  You’ll also want something to nibble on inflight.  Got a layover?  Bring snacks for that too.  Finally, think about what happens when you land at your destination.  Will you immediately catch a train to another city?  You guessed it, more snacks.
  • Pack light.  Yeah I know, I just urged you to pack all this food and then I turn around and tell you to pack light.  It can be done with a little strategy–seek out lightweight snacks, remove any excess packaging in advance, and if you’re travelling with another person, give them a stash to carry (hey–it’s only fair since they’ll be sharing.)  And remember, most of that food will soon be in your belly, not in your carryon.
  • Seek out nutritious snacks.  Find food that will give you energy and help you stay healthy through the jetlag and stress of travel.

TABLET - WIN_20150427_204916 I hate rushing at the airport, so we always arrive extra early.  Once we’ve found our gate it’s snack time! Pack something homemade–a sandwich is fine.  If you’ve got more time, grain salads and soba noodle dishes are tasty (put them inside reused containers from things like cottage cheese or yogurt that you can toss when you’re finished).  For our upcoming trip I made Kale Quinoa Bites (recipe from 101 Cookbooks).

TABLET - WIN_20150428_170653

Dehydrated fruits and veggies are perfect inflight snacks.  Sure, I prefer fresh vegetables and fruit, but these are lightweight and won’t spoil.  Also, customs rules often prohibit bringing in fresh produce and you don’t want to mess with that.

TABLET - WIN_20150428_185633

Now its time to eat on your layover.  For this trip, I’m bringing whole grain crackers, tuna cups and cheese.   CHEESE!  One of the happiest revelations of my snack-obsessed life was realizing that I could pack real cheese.  The next time you go to Whole Foods, notice how not all the cheese is refrigerated.  The lady at the cheese counter assured me that they keep several types of cheese unrefrigerated for 14 hours a day, so now I just look through these varieties and buy what’s on sale.

We also bring protein bars which are basically candy bars masquerading as health food but boy can they be handy in a time crunch.

TABLET - WIN_20150428_171037

But wait–you’re still going to need an emergency snack in case of flight delays. (One time, due to thunderstorms, HOB and I were stuck in a small wing of Atlanta airport where the only food option was a nasty fast food chain.  We didn’t have an emergency snack, and the chicken sandwich we ate in desperation made our mouths taste like we’d just gargled MSG.)

Granola makes a great emergency snack.  Here’s my own granola recipe, which you can modify to your taste:

The Wife of Bath’s Flight Delay Granola

  • Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  • In a large bowl whisk together 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar, 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or coconut oil, a teaspoon of vanilla extract or coconut flavoring, and a pinch of salt.
  • Fold in two cups of rolled oats.
  • Mix in 1 1/2 cups raw seeds/nuts.  (You should chop up the larger nuts).  I use a combination of whatever’s in the house: sunflower and pumpkin seeds, cashews, sliced almonds, walnuts and pecans.
  • Spread mixture on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.  If you want the granola to come out in large chunks, press down on the granola with a spatula.
  • Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • Cover with tin foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Turn off oven and remove foil but keep granola in oven for additional five minutes.
  • At this point your kitchen will smell like pure yum.  Use the last five minutes of wait time to write a comment on my blog about how I’m your travel snack guru.
  • Take the granola out of the oven to cool.  If you’re feeling frisky, mix in some toasted coconut or mini chocolate chips.

I’d love to hear about your favorite airport snacks.  And if you’ve got a good snack recipe, please share—my pie chart is always seeking inspiration.


  1. When I go abroad with chocolate or candy, the next time I’ll try the dessert. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Chocolate is my favorite food group!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. These beat my airport snacks! Definitely gonna take some of them on my next flight!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You could pack some of those Columbian pastries (what are they called?) that are essentially deep fried cheese dough balls. Not healthy, but suuuuper tasty!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy snacking Traveling Rockhopper!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I take dehydrated fruit, baggies of nuts, and protein bars. So boring. But I am definitely trying your granola recipe, and I went straight for the Kale Quinoa Bites recipe. Thanks for that! We are leaving May 25th for Austria, Germany & France. We’ll be doing some hiking, so I’ll be packing plenty of extras.
    Love your ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks cheezlousie. I always think “this baggie of nuts is boring” too, but then I’m trapped somewhere so hungry and they turn into the most delicious treats….I hope you have a super trip!

      BTW, I love your profile picture. Is that a smiling angel from Reims cathedral?


      1. It is! That angel has smiled back at me for many years. I like to put that face “forward”!! I’ll remember to be thankful for my bags of nuts and protein bars. But adding some new pizazz is always welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. aqua10111 · · Reply

    Very helpful! The prices were mad the last time I had a layover at Dubai International.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They call it a captive audience for a reason….


  6. Thanks for these ideas. I’ve never been sure exactly what you can and can’t take through TSA and customs. I have sent snacks in my checked luggage for us on a trip. As far as the airport itself goes, I haven’t been that creative. I’m especially intrigued by the dehyrdated veggies.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi seam31. Yeah, I know–my parents own a dehydrator and I totally want to steal it!

    I don’t think you need to be all that creative–even a pb&j will hit the spot when you’re at the airport.


  8. When I’m being good, I pack pb&j and a ziplog baggie of popcorn to bring with me. When I’m lazy (or when I travel for work and have someone else to pay for snacks), I buy the hummus and pretzel snack cups.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Erin,

      Hmmm…I need to get working on that “have someone else pay for snacks” part.


  9. Great tips ! I will try them out since I am a hangry girl 😉


    1. In fact I had a terrible case of hangry earlier today–we were on a train traveling though Romania. We were enjoying a fascinating conversations with our seat mates and thought it would be rude to start crunching in their faces. 😉


  10. Irène Sharon Hodes · · Reply

    I think a great deal about the appeal of the food I’m packing. I want to anticipate just how much I’m actually going to want to eat a boring bag of carrot sticks. Because in all honesty, travel is draining and the food choices seriously liven up, and often define, the moment. I take great pains to make supremely delicious sandwiches – ones that I know I will be dreaming of eating. If I take granola or trail mix, I make certain it has chocolate in it. That sort of thing. The last thing I want is that “staring into the jammed pack closet and seeing nothing to wear” syndrome. At the end of the day, you need to treat yourself. I throw off the attempt at health food. Food colors the experience. And an unhappy unfulfilled palate is almost as bad as a rumbling tummy. Well, no. Of course not. But food more than helps make the traveling experience bearable… and unique.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could have one your supremely delicious sandwiches Irène!

      It’s not that I’m obsessed with health food, it’s just that we travel so intensely we need food that works as fuel. Back when we first started traveling we had the “I’m on vacation so let’s eat all the treats” mentality, and we lost all our energy by the end of the trip and felt yucky. I’ll never stop eating treats of course, but now it’s in moderation…..


  11. Haha really enjoyed reading about this post. I always have gum on me as well so I can chew something if I get hungry, plenty of water is a must and the one rule is to NEVER buy airport food as you get completely ripped off. Just started my own blog about travelling and would love some feedback, have a look 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t you wish that all airports had readily available water fountains?

      Your blog is neat! I wish you the best of luck with your blogging, traveling and gum chewing adventures!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: