This may or may not come as a shock, but I’ve been traveling with a “snack pack” for as long as I can remember.
When I was a tiny human, my babysitter Arleen used to pack me a giant Ziploc of food for all flights/road trips/train rides, and I’ve followed her excellent lead ever since. Looking back, she definitely did it to keep me calm and quiet in transit, and the snack pack still serves the same purpose as edible security blanket. I will forever feel panicky and naked embarking on a trip without an arsenal of healthy food in my carry-on. As should you.
The beauty of the snack pack is two-fold. First and foremost, you get to eat what you like, versus being forced to eat something sad and gross. Sure, JFK has Shake Shack, but a lot of airports have nada but soggy sandos and past-their-prime yogurt parfaits. Fact. Second, it makes it easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle anywhere and everywhere, which is no small feat. Delicious, nutritious food isn’t always accessible, and if you don’t have it on hand, you’re likely to eat (and feel like) crap by default. I’m not against the occasional airport feast—that would be hypocritical coming from someone who has crushed Dominos in the fetal position on the floor of DIA—but if you travel on the reg, it’s crucial to BYO smart snacks.
Thanks to ze #dudediettour, your weird blog lady has been traveling consistently over the past two months, and as you may have seen on Instagram, I’ve really perfected my snack pack. I know I’ve rounded up my favorite travel recipes before (think grain salads, energy bites, etc.), but I thought it was high time I shared some of the less perishable, store-bought staples that help keep me happy, sane, and buttoning my jeans on the road. I’m hoping they’ll be similarly effective for my fellow jet-setters.
Happy, healthy travels, friends!
Healthy Travel Snack Staples:
1. Mary’s Gone Crackers Original and Super Seed Crackers. I’m thrilled to inform you that you can now buy these addictive nutrient-dense crackers in single serving packs! They’re tasty and crunchy enough to crush sans accoutrements, but I like them dipped in hummus or smeared with some nut butter (A+ sweet and savory flavor combo). I also recommend Mary’s gluten-free pretzels.
2. Justin’s Almond Butter Squeeze Packs. Perfectly portioned, mess-free, and delicious, these squeezable packs are legit lifesavers, people. They come in a variety of flavors (including natural), but I’m partial to the maple version, which has the perfect hint of sweetness without adding too much sugar. I recommend squeezing the butter on a brown rice cake or an apple (no need to slice, just take a bite of the apple, squeeze some almond butter on the “hole,” repeat), although it’s totally cool to eat the stuff straight from the pack. (If doing the latter, I recommend rinsing the packs with water before throwing them in your snack pack. Probably doesn’t remove allll the store germs, but I like to think it helps.)
3. GoMacro Protein Pleasure Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar. Not gonna lie, I’m not really a bar person. A lot of bars contain scary amounts of chemical additives and sugar, and the ones that don’t tend to taste gross. However, I’ve recently become a die-hard fan of GoMacro’s peanut butter chocolate chip protein pleasure bar. It’s high in protein and fiber, reasonably low in sugar, and tastes surprisingly good. It also keeps me full for a while, so I like it for breakfast or even a (very light) lunch in a pinch.
4. Oatmeal packets. Instant oatmeal packets, like Nature’s Path Qi’a, are a very practical addition to the snack pack, especially when one is staying in a hotel. (A lot of hotels have Keurig machines in their rooms or hot water in the lobby in the morning.) Just stir hot water and oatmeal in a mug, paper cup, or even a glass, wait a few minutes, and BOOM. Healthy breakfast in a flash. If you have some extra nuts or dried fruit in your snack pack, use them as fancy toppings!
5. Raw nuts. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Mix your favorites in a Ziploc for easy snacking on the fly.
6. Matt’s Munchies. Like a grown-up version of a Fruit-by-the-Foot, these organic fruit snacks are my go-to when I’m craving something sweet and chewy, and I’m very grateful to Matt for helping me break my airport Haribo addiction. There are lots of awesome flavors options, but my personal favorites are the Island Mango (which is sprinkled with coconut flakes!!) and the Mango-Ginger.
7. International Harvest Go ManGo! Organic Dried Mango Slices. Speaking of mango, I’m a big fan of traveling with dried mango (fun fact: I love mango), which is a delightfully tart-sweet snack. But beware most store-bought brands!! International Harvest is one of the few with no added sugar, so always check the ingredients before you buy dried fruit, capiche?
8. Granola. I like to keep granola in my snack pack for general snacking and to add to yogurt that I pick up in the airport or at my destination. If I’m not traveling with homemade (usually the Quinoa Crunch Granola from the #dudedietbook), Purely Elizabeth makes a great high-fiber, whole grain option that comes in handy to-go packs containing 2 servings each.
9. Apples and bananas. Honestly, almost any type of fruit (other than berries and peaches) is snack pack compatible, but I prefer apples and bananas. They’re the least messy, and they’re great with the aforementioned Almond Butter Squeeze Packs, or as toppings for oatmeal, granola, yogurt, etc. I recommend washing your apples beforehand and then wrapping them in a couple layers of paper towels before adding them to your snack pack to keep them from bruising.
10. Jerky. Beef, turkey, or chicken jerky are excellent high-protein snacks and super easy to travel with—I’m currently digging Chef’s Cut turkey and chicken offerings. I try not to eat jerky in the air due to its sodium content (I bloat just fine on my own, thank you), but it’s a delicious choice when on solid ground.
11. Lundberg Family Farms Brown Rice Cakes. Brown rice cakes are one of my snack pack staples, and I tend to eat them with almond butter, hummus, and avocado (if I can get my hands on one). If I’m on the road for a while, I’ll take the whole bag, but if I’m only gone for a days, I’ll stash a few cakes in a Ziploc and make sure to put them on top of the snack pack so they don’t get crushed.
12. Dark Chocolate. Sometimes you just need a chocolate fix, ya feel me? I like to travel with dark chocolate (at least 70% so I can reap some antioxidant and mood-boosting benefits), and I’m obsessed with Hu Kitchen’s chocolate, especially the Almond Butter and Puffed Quinoa bar, which is 72% cacao and sweetened with coconut sugar. A couple squares really hit the spot.
*Once I get through airport security, I try to pick up some plain Greek yogurt and/or hummus, both of which can be jazzed up with many of the above staples. If I don’t end up eating them on the plane, I’ll stash them in my hotel mini fridge for snacking/breakfast.