Food Glorious Food: the Best Healthy Travel Snacks for Kids

Tips on packing a good variety of healthy travel snacks for your kids and family. Good eating on the road or in the air is key to happy family travel.

Your plane has been delayed for 2 hours and the kids are starving. You had planned to feed them with the breakfast service on the flight (rare these days, I know) – that’s out. But you are not worried because you’re a modern travelling mom who’s planned for every possible outcome. You’ve packed along healthy snacks for your trip.

These days, in-flight meal service can be quite sporadic, if it exists at all. You can buy food items on many flights, but if your children are anything like mine, they need constant feeding and watering, which means – PICNIC!

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about packing, now you need to plan, pack, and carry a variety of road trip snacks or your own meal tray of healthy snacks to feed your hungry travelling family. Perhaps even before, during and after the flight.

Picnic-packing success is all about the planning done ahead of time. Key considerations include; the time of day of your flight or road trip departure, food likes and dislikes, food allergies, and basic practicality.

Tips on packing a good variety of healthy travel snacks for your kids and family. Good eating on the road or in the air is key to happy family travel.

A delicious veggie sandwich on whole-grain bread is a perfect and easy travel meal.

If you’re travelling during the day and especially over a meal-time, items of more sustenance are really needed, accompanied by your choice of smaller snacks for toddlers to teens. We’ve had success with cold pizza, cheese, Nutella, peanut-butter, or mashed avocado sandwiches on firm, whole-grain bread. Home-made cheese quesadillas are big winners too.

I shy away from meat products due to concerns about potential spoilage and customs issues, though we love and pack beef jerky. Avoid tuna or egg salad for reasons of smell and spoilage. Your seat mates won’t be too impressed as soon as the smell of tuna hits their nose. Be a considerate traveller – it should be a golden rule. Note: If you’re booked on a red-eye or night flight to Europe, you do not need to pack a three-course meal. A few snacks should cover it.

Tips on packing a good variety of healthy travel snacks for your kids and family. Good eating on the road or in the air is key to happy family travel.

Individually bagged snacks make it easy for everyone to have their own healthy treat bags.

Favorite Healthy Snacks for Kids

Here’s a list of some of our favorite road trip food ideas and snacks – just as perfect to enjoy at 30,000 feet.

Granola, homemade trail mix, chocolate or energy bars, dried cereal (i.e. cheerios), cheese-strings, beef jerky or dried pepperoni sticks, crackers, cheese snacks, sesame snacks, baby carrots, celery, dried fruit, fruit leather, real-fruit gummies, hard candy or lollipops, and bubble-gum (*this can really help if the kids suffer from ear-pain on the descent).

Leave at Home

Soft fruit: mushed pear in the bottom of your backpack? Yuck.

Meat products: Unless they are dried (i.e. jerky). Fresh meat products may be prone to potential spoilage, unless you can keep them well-chilled.

Over-processed pre-packaged snacks: Too artificial, too much sodium, too much fat.

Liquids

Liquid items are out unless you buy them in the airport once you’ve cleared security. Breast milk for babies is the one exception. We always pack empty water bottles to fill once we’ve done that, or you can buy water at an airport kiosk. Most airlines are pretty good with in-flight drinks service, but it never seems frequent enough to keep us all hydrated.

Packing Your Picnic

You might wish to divide up some of the food items to lessen the load on you. Individual Ziploc bags are really handy and keep things in tidy order. Give each family member a small food bag to fit into their backpack or shoulder bag if possible, with the proviso that they have to share what’s inside with everyone else of course! (This can be difficult if Skittles or Smarties are involved.)

Pin for Later

Tips on packing a good variety of healthy travel snacks for your kids and family. Good eating on the road or in the air is key to happy family travel. (via thetravellingmom.ca)

[travellingmom tip: We like to pack some special snack items that we don’t normally have in the house for our trips, like hard candies or chocolates, as a special treat for the kids. They pack well and provide some good energy when needed.]

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons

What are your favourite healthy travel snacks? Share your recommendations below.

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26 Comments

  • Fiona says:

    I do tend to go to Pret a Manger (recommended) and buy a salad to take onboard once I’m airside. And I appreciate parents who take the time to think this kind of thing through so that their kids are not hungry and grumpy through a flight

  • noel says:

    Wow, you pack some really good snacks, I wouldn’t mind having some as an adult and it’s quite a nice mixture of different flavors and textures which is great!

  • I see so many parents just give their kids Kunj so they are quiet. Nice to see a mum making some great efforts for healthy snacks.

    • Claudia says:

      Healthy snacks are the way to go. Though we pack some special surprise candies for extra motivation.

  • Jenna says:

    Lots of great ideas–thanks for the suggestions! I never remember to pack my own food when we fly, but I think I need to start making more of an effort. We love Kind Bars and jerky is always a great idea that I seem to forget about!

    • Claudia says:

      Thanks Jenna! It’s worth the effort packing goodies you’ll want to eat, no matter the trip length.

  • These are excellent snack ideas. Being prepared and having more than enough food items stashed in the kids’ bags (and mine as well) has saved us more than once. We do many of the same you mentioned above and I always include a special treat just like you mentioned so they have something to look forward to and I have something to bribe them with- ha! Great tips!

    • Claudia says:

      Thanks very much Amber! Totally agree on adding some snacks to the kids bags too. Why should Mom and Dad have to carry everything, right?

  • Good ideas but so ambitious! I always pack nuts and dried fruit, or dates. Cheese and crackers would be great as well for longer flights but too often I punk out and buy a quick sandwich at the airport. I like my meals fresh!

    • Claudia says:

      Quick sandwiches at the airport are great too. Families have to watch those premium prices though. They do tend to add up.

  • This is a good idea. I normally buy snacks at the airport, bringing snacks saves money and better snack options than those in the airport shops.

    • Claudia says:

      I’m all about saving money and packing favorite goodies! If food allergies are a concern, knowing what’s in your snack bag is very important.

  • Oh I’ll have the veggie sandwich! Looks really yummy 🙂 Now that we live in Rome we love to have local snacks: “focaccia” (a fluffy olive oil bread) or “gressini” on the road…

    • Claudia says:

      Love those treats, though my absolute favorite Roman street food is arancini! I could eat those all day long.

  • Chrysoula says:

    These are some great suggestions. Kids are constantly hungry and when they are hungry they get agitated so your ideas will come very handy.

  • Annie says:

    My mother always always carried a package of saltine crackers in her purse no matter where we were going, but your snacks look much tastier! Although, I do appreciate mentioning that egg or tuna salad are not likely to be appreciated by your seat mate haha 🙂

  • Kirsten says:

    We love to pack bagel thins and cream cheese (food allergy over here). Also those Kind bars are great and the apple sauce squeeze packets. Anything that’s easy to store is a must! (Except my husband always insists on grabbing a banana. It drives me crazy!)

    • Claudia says:

      Those are great snacks Kirsten. Thanks for the suggestions! I agree with you about the banana… 😉

  • Ashleigh says:

    I always find that having a couple snack bars in my purse come in handy no matter where we are travelling… for the kids or for me! my go to is Taste of Nature, they are organic and delicious.

    • Claudia says:

      Thanks for the suggestions Ashleigh! Great to know of another organic snack product that travels well.

  • I usually over pack for late flights then I end up just sleeping so yeah. These were good advices by the way. Always good to have different snacks instead of too much food. Besides, you would want them to sleep, wouldn’t you?

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