What to eat at the airport? Healthy eating tips

Airport food is expensive.

But what’s actually even worse is that the food most of travellers eat at the airport is unhealthy. It’s mostly sugary or salty snacks, not proper food. So, what are the options? What to eat at the airport? One of the options is to bring some food from home or supermarket. This way both saving some money, as well as having a more healthy diet.

Not sure what to bring? See our recommendations.

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The best healthy snacks to take to the airport and on the plane

Can you take food through security at the airport?

According to the law, you are allowed to take food through security unless it’s with a high liquid content. Or it’s something specific that isn’t allowed in a particular airport.

Liquids, like dressings can be taken through security only if they are in separate containers that are no more than 100 ml (3.4 oz) in volume. Remember this and the rest of the carry on luggage restrictions, or you'll get stopped at the airport security screening.

Larger bottles and jars containing liquids are only allowed in checked luggage.

This means you can take with you simple meals and snacks prepared at home, or bought in a supermarket. But before packing snacks for your journey you must remember that not all food is good as airplane / airport snacks.

To feel good during your trip we highly recommend you to focus on healthy food.

Prepare some healthy meals and pack only healthy snacks.

A few suggestions on what healthy snacks and foods to take to the airport or on the plane:

  • Whole grain pita bread with houmous. Smear the bread with some houmous and stuff it with vegetables and pieces of avocado.
  • Baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. While carrots are solid and can be thrown in a bag, you should be careful with tomatoes. Put them in a plastic container so you don’t crush them.
  • Fiber-rich fruits such as bananas, apples and mangoes. Apples and bananas are the best option as a fruit snack for the journey because they are firm and can’t be smashed easily. You can also pack peeled oranges, tangerines and berries. Just put them in a container. Mangoes are great, too, but you should cut them beforehand.
  • Trail mix. It’s a snack mix consisting of nuts, dried fruits and granola.
  • Nuts. They are high on fiber and healthy fats, and also are a good source of protein.
  • Healthy granola bars. Granola bar is a snack made of oats, nuts, honey, dried fruits and seeds.
  • Healthy sandwich. Make a simple sandwich with whole wheat bread, plain houmous, slices of avocado and inoffensive meat.
  • Dried fruit and fruit crisps / chips. Delicious and healthy! You can make them on your own if you have a specialised dryer or dehydrator.
  • Green salad. Make salad with lettuce, spinach, cucumber, kale and other solid veggies and / or leafy greens. Remember, you’ll have to keep the dressing in a small separate container with all your liquids.

Even though you are allowed to take almost all food items, sometimes some of them can be subject to additional screening.

If security agents ask you to take the food they want to take a look at it. Don’t be alarmed! Just take out the bag or box containing the food and show it to the security agent. Most often than not you’ll be allowed to take it through security, unless it’s a liquid (or gel) that is more than 100 ml (3.4 oz) in volume (e.g., a bottle of dressing or a plastic box containing soup).

Also you should not forget about the food you are carrying in your bag and consume it at the airport or on the plane. Because in some situations you may not be allowed to bring it to your destination.

Healty eating tips: What to eat at the airport

Haven’t prepared any food or snacks? Eat something at the airport!

Should you eat before the flight or not? Where and what should you eat? Well, it depends on the airline you are flying with. Are they providing you with a meal or not. If the meal is not provided then you should think when is the next time when you will be able to have a meal. If your flight is quite a long one, and you’ll need a lot of time to get to your hotel you should think of eating at the airport.

Well, you can eat whatever you like but, if you need an advice - try eating something that is rich in protein and filling but not too heavy and high on calories. So, yes, as burgers might seem tempting for some but it’s not the best meal option at the airport.

Choose food that is packed with healthy ingredients such as greens and vegetables, and offer high amounts of vitamins and protein.

The best foods are soups, salads and various light meals.

Do not eat beans before your flight, or at home before leaving for the airport. You know what we mean…

Get a smoothie, if you like them. It’s both filling and healthy.

Fresh-squeezed juices and water are the best options to stay hydrated and healthy.

Healty eating tips: The best foods and snacks to buy at the airport

Some of the snacks and foods you are not allowed to carry through security unless it’s not more than 100 ml (3.4 oz). Or you eat it before the security.

Such foods are yogurt, smoothies and soups. These foods are not allowed in your carry on unless they are in 100 ml containers which is very little. I don’t think anyone will pour a soup in three 100 ml containers to eat it after the security check…

The liquid foods are not allowed at the security but it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat them in the airport. You can and they are actually a really good option. You can buy them in a store or a cafe after the airport security. Same like you can prepare your own salads and wraps but you can also buy them at the airport if you haven’t done it at home.

Drink plenty of water!

Buy a bottle of water before your flight.

Or, even better, refill your own bottle after you've gone through airport security.

Because of the plane’s air circulation system, the humidity on the plane is extremely low. That’s why flying dehydrates you. The only way to stay hydrated is to keep fluid intake up. Also you should avoid alcohol and coffee because it dehydrates you.

How much water do you have to drink during the flight?

It depends on how long is the flight. Drink about 250 ml of water every hour if you are on a flight longer than 3 hours. But don’t drink all of it at once.

What food you should NOT bring to the airport

Don’t take food you can’t take through airport security.

Passengers are not allowed to carry liquids in containers that are more than 100 ml (3.4 oz) in volume. This also applies to food. You are not allowed to carry beverages (water included), dressings, soups, syrups, oils, jams, jellies and gravy.

However, you are allowed to carry duty free items bought after the security check. But you should check what are duty free allowances of the country you are travelling to.

Usually the rules go like this: You’re not supposed to enter the country with more than x number of cigarettes and / or x liters of distilled spirits. Also you are not allowed to enter with more than x ml of perfumes. Rarely, but also some foods may not be allowed to be brought in at all. Do the research first!

If you are travelling to Singapore take into account that it has no duty-free allowance for ANY number of cigarettes brought into the country. Travellers are expected to declare all tobacco products.

What food you should NOT bring on the plane

But there’s another reason you probably should leave some of the foods in your fridge. Because of the smell.

You are travelling on a plane - a relatively small, confined space with so many strangers. Imagine, someone who’s sitting next to you does something that you find really annoying, like, tapping their pen or bouncing their leg. This applies to eating habits, as well. Imagine smelling food that you really hate and which makes you nauseous. That’s why you should think about others and avoid eating food with unpleasant smell.

Some of the smelly foods you definitely must not take on the plane:

  • Eggs;
  • Onions;
  • Smelly cheeses (for example, Camembert and blue cheese);
  • Kimchi;
  • Burgers and hot dogs;
  • Pizza;
  • Oily and deep-fried snacks (french fries and onion rings);
  • Fish and sea food;
  • Tuna salad;
  • Egg salad;
  • Snacks and food with garlic in it;
  • Chips and crisps with a strong smell (for example, Cheetos).

5 extra tips

  • Bring mints and / or chewing gum. It will help keep your breath fresh.
  • Carry a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash and / or waterless toothbrushes, especially if you have a long layover or a long-haul flight. More carry on essentials.
  • Pack some activated charcoal pills, just in case. They are used to treat stomach pains from gas and other stomach issues.
  • Bring hand sanitiser and / or wet wipes, and use them before you eat. Especially when you are on the plane.
  • Pack everything you’ll need during your flight (snacks, book, phone, wet wipes, medicine, etc.) in your personal item that you will keep under the seat in front of you. Keep all the essentials close to you.

For more travel tips click here.

Have a great trip!