The best snacks to bring on the airplane
Have you ever been hungry on an airplane?
Most domestic flights aren’t long enough to make hunger a huge issue and most international flights bury you in food, so luckily it isn’t something many travelers have to deal with often.
But getting hungry when you’re stuck on an airplane is pretty miserable. Myself and hundreds of other passengers discovered that on a flight from Europe to the US. During this 12 1/2 hour flight, the flight attendants discovered that over 100 meals were not loaded on the aircraft prior to take-off. This meant that every passenger got one meal and two bags of pretzels… for a 12 1/2 hour flight.
That was miserable, but it was an eye-opening experience to me: it is absolutely critical to pack snacks in your carry-on. It’s so easy to bring food on an airplane. Worst case? You don’t eat it. The snack will be there for your enjoyment later while you’re relaxing in the hotel room (something I have appreciated on many occasions).
If you’ve always wondered what things you should pack in your carry-on, look no further: these are the best snacks to bring on the airplane for your next travel adventure!
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Can you bring snacks on an airplane?
Did you know you can bring food on the airplane? Not only the food you buy after security – you can bring your own food to the airport from home!
Many travelers don’t know this. Don’t worry if you falsely assumed that food & liquids cannot pass through security. That’s a very common misconception. Thankfully, TSA is just worried about liquids. Anything on this list can make it through US airport security with no problems!
What makes a great travel snack?
The best carry-on snacks are tasty, filling, and not very smelly. It’s important to satisfy yourself and not disrupt the other passengers!
You also need to keep in mind importation rules when you’re traveling, however.
Anything you bring with you into a new country is considered an import. Many countries have import regulations and some of these food items may be prohibited. That means you can bring it on the plane, but not into the country… so you just have to be sure to eat it before landing!
Fruit, meat, and dairy are often restricted. Check out the State Department website for more information.
Another consideration is nut allergies. I was on a flight once where a passenger had a dangerous allergy and just the scent of nuts would set them off. Because of that, all foods with nuts were banned for the flight. Be sure to pack at least something that doesn’t contain nuts, just in case!
My favorite travel snacks are:
- Allowed for import, or easily consumed on the plane
- Easily packable – they don’t need special refrigeration
- Super filling & satisfying
- Low odor (so no tuna sandwiches here!)
- Low risk for food poisoning
At the end of the day, the best airplane snacks are the snacks you would love to eat at home – and don’t break any rules!
1. Trail mix
Trail mix is the quintessential packable snack. Sweet, savory, crunchy, chewy, and super filling, it’s great to throw in your bag.
Two notes, however – as mentioned above, the dried fruit and nuts may be problematic. Definitely check on the import of dried fruits before assuming it’s safe to import. And bring a backup snack in case a passenger has a nut allergy!
2. Granola or breakfast bars
Granola bars are classically packable snacks. I like to bring a couple fruity granola bars and a couple crunchy granola bars. I never really plan to eat them all on the plane, but they’re great to have in your bag while walking around town or lounging in the hotel. Trust me, extra snacks are always good!
I’m definitely a fan of KIND bars because they are packable, filling, and seem somewhat healthy. You can throw one of your favorites in your carry-on and a few extras in your checked luggage in case you need something quick and easy at the hotel.
Another snack I always bring on the airplane is breakfast biscuits. Usually, coffee & tea is served before landing and these little biscuits are so tasty when they’re dunked in coffee. I’ve eaten them during layovers, too, and it’s a great pick-me-up.
3. Snack crackers, like Cheez-Its, Goldfish, or Pita Chips
Is there anything better than a salty cracker? I love packing savory snacks. Cheez-Its and Goldfish are a little bit less healthy than pita chips, so go ahead and bring whatever you prefer!
The package from Amazon below is awesome. There are so many alternatives and you’ll be able to enjoy the snacks before, during, and after your travels. Plus there’s variety for everyone in your group!
4. Hard-boiled eggs
Hard boiled eggs are tricky for two reasons: they may be problematic upon arrival and they may be smelly.
For that reason, I recommend you pack them in Ziplock bags and only open the bag when you’re ready to eat your tasty airplane snack.
Be respectful of the flight attendants and peel your egg ahead of time. If you try and peel the egg on the plane, you’re almost guaranteed to drop egg shell bits on the floor. If you peel it ahead of time, you can pre-add some salt and pepper to your baggy and make the snack even easier!
Pin me for later!
5. Easy-to-pack cheese snacks
Cheese snacks are almost certainly NOT allowed in other countries so you’ll have to eat these on the plane. However, my favorite cheese snacks are these little Baby Bel cheeses wrapped in wax. They are fine out of the fridge for a bit, so don’t worry too much about transporting them. I would plan to eat them sooner rather than later, but these cheese snacks are super satisfying and filling so I don’t think that’ll be a problem!
6. Uncrustables – or some other nut butter snack
You probably haven’t thought of Uncrustables in over a decade, but they have become my new favorite travel snack. I throw them in my bag for road trips, short flights, and international flights alike because they are so easy. If you’ve never had an Uncrustable, it’s a frozen PB&J sandwich that you allow to thaw for a few hours. When it’s thawed, it’s a perfect PB&J – without crust, of course.
If Uncrustables aren’t your thing, some other nut butter snack is a great option for the airplane. Justin’s has some awesome options that go great with crackers & fruit. I love the variety of Justin’s – there is chocolate hazelnut butter, honey peanut butter, and even chocolates!
7. A comforting treat, like your favorite candy
You know when you get to that point on an international flight where you just can’t anymore?
Can’t wait to land. Can’t wait to brush your teeth. Can’t wait to be out of your seat. Can’t wait to be off the plane.
For me, that happens around hour 9. For many flights, that’s pretty close to the end. For a 12+ hour flight, however, you still have a ways to go. When that hits, I like to pull out some chocolate. Chocolate for me is my favorite treat and it’s nice to have something to look forward to.
One chocolate I’ve recently discovered that I love is AWAKE Caffeinated Chocolate. Each chocolate bar has the caffeine of a cup of coffee so it’ll both help with you beat jet lag AND give you the chocolate satisfaction you crave.
AWAKE has a few different varieties but I prefer the chocolate peanut butter variety. It’s like a Reese’s – but with caffeine!
8. Instant ramen
Full disclosure, instant ramen is not a great airplane snack. But I still think you should pack it anyway.
I’ve found that the best way to beat jet lag is to eat something warm and satisfying, take a shower, and take a nap right after checking into the hotel room. Ramen is cheap, warm, and satisfying, so I’ve started packing that any time I take an international trip.
So why put it in your carry on?
Well, you never know what will happen if you have a layover. You may miss a flight, have a canceled flight, or find out your luggage is lost. It’s nice to have something on hand to get you through this headache. Whether it’s a quick snack at the airport while the airline figures out your problem or having one comforting thing in your hotel room while they find your luggage, a brick of ramen doesn’t take up much space.
The best carry on snacks are easy to pack, filling, and not too smelly
I’ve compiled this list of the best carry on snacks after dozens of long-haul flights and lots of mistakes. These have become my favorite travel snacks because they are easy to pack, really filling, and super satisfying.
If you’re looking for more packing tips, check out my guide on packing essentials!
Do you have any snacks I’ve missed? Comment below!