Traveling and eating well doesn’t always go hand in hand. Between flight delays and long days in the car, traveling can make it difficult to find a fresh salad or grilled piece of fish at mealtime. And oftentimes, grabbing a quick bag of chips or a bottle of soda as a snack can be commonplace, thanks to the unhealthy food choices typically available at gas stations and snack kiosks.
That’s why having some healthy travel snacks in tow when you are hitting the road or heading to the airport is so important — it ensures you’ll still have access to your typical good-for-you food. Sure, having healthy snacks available takes a little preplanning, but when you are feeling those hunger pangs and you are tempted by the typical travel junk food, you will be glad that you have some healthy noshes in your travel bag to help you stick to your healthy lifestyle while on the go.
“When traveling, it’s important to have nonperishable, satisfying foods available,” explains registered dietitian Rayna McCann, MS, RDN. “In order to truly satisfy you, try incorporating a mix of protein, carbs and healthy fats.”
We asked some registered dietitians to share their go-to healthy travel snacks, and their list may help you decide what to toss into your travel bag before you leave for your next adventure.
Fruit is a quintessential dietitian-approved snack thanks to the variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber that it contains. But some fruit choices can become a pile of mush when they are tossed into a purse or travel bag.
“Fruits like bananas, oranges and tangerines come in their own natural packaging, making them a great portable snack,” says registered dietitian Christine Milmine, RDN. And since many varieties of fruit contain key nutrients that help keep us healthy, like vitamin C and potassium, including them in your travel plans is always a good idea.
No matter whether you are team walnut, cashew, pistachio or almond, nuts can be a perfectly portable healthy travel snack. “Nuts can easily be thrown in a bag and can be kept at room temperature, making them easy to travel with. They also provide a great source of heart-healthy fats and protein, which can help keep you feeling full until your next meal,” explains registered dietitian Holly Klamer, RD.
Protein bars can be a perfect go-to travel snack, with some caveats. While some choices are packed with nutrients, others can be loaded with sugars, unhealthy fats and other unsavory factors.
“Protein bars that provide at least 6 grams of protein with less than 8 to 10 grams of added sugar can help keep blood sugar levels and hunger stable during travel,” Klamer shares. To determine how much sugar is in each bar, simply look at the food label and this information will be easy to find.
While oatmeal is often thought of as a breakfast food, this dish can be a satisfying snack, as well, as long as it is prepared properly.
McCann suggests bringing “a packet of plain oatmeal and asking for a hot cup of water” when traveling. She adds that this can be done anywhere that offers tea, including an airplane. “Throw your dried fruit and peanut butter right into your oatmeal, and just like that, you have a plant-focused, satiating, sustainable snack,” McCann says.
Nut Butter and an Apple
Sometimes the simplest combos are the best. Combining a single serving of nut butter with an apple makes for a healthy travel snack that is totally dietitian-approved.
“The apple contains fiber, is portable and offers up some vitamins,” says registered dietitian Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN. And the nut butter contains healthy fat and protein, which will sustain you while you travel. Portable, filling and inexpensive — a willing combo.”
Roasted Seaweed Snacks
For a portable and satisfying travel snack, roasted seaweed snacks can be a great healthy alternative to potato chips or other similar noshes. “Roasted seaweed snacks are nonperishable and satisfy that salty craving with almost no carbohydrates, which is great for people looking for wholesome snacks while monitoring blood sugar,” says registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN.
If you have a fierce sweet tooth and you need a healthy travel snack to tame that craving, then medjool dates can be your best bet. Chock-full of nutrients like fiber, calcium and iron, these fruits are filling and satisfying with a lower glycemic index. “Eat them with nut butter to make it even more satisfying,” suggests registered dietitian Jenna Gorham, RD.