Wondering what a registered dietitian brings to eat while traveling to stay healthy? I’m sharing my favorite dietitian approved healthy travel snacks that are nutrient dense and low in added sugar.
I love traveling but it quickly becomes no fun when I don’t feel my best (aka my digestion is off) or come home with a cold. These healthy travel snack ideas will help you fuel you up for any adventure. Plus, they’re packed with the good nutrition you need to feel your best while traveling.
I was also recently quoted in Huffington Post in their article “Best Breakfast Foods To Eat When You’re Traveling, And Why It Matters.”
Healthy Airport Dining Options
Being hangry with a delayed flight and limited food options is no way to kick off a work trip or vacation. While you can’t control how long the line for security will be, you can control what snacks you pack to have on hand for any travel situation! Plus, knowing your airport options and having some carry-on essentials can help even more. A little planning a head of time is to key to fueling up, feeling your best and starting your trip off on the right foot.
I will say that airports have come a long way when it comes to food choices. Here in Chicago, O’Hare airport has a few different local Chicago restaurants like Summer House Santa Monica and Publican Tavern inside the airport, and a couple Cibo Express (I know terminal 2 has one for sure!) locations throughout the airport that stock many of the snacks on my list of 15 dietitian approved healthy travel snacks below!
4 Key things to Look For in a Healthy Travel Snack
1. Protein Content
Things with protein take longer for our body to digest vs. carbs. That is the reason eating a snack that is all carbs doesn’t work to keep us full for that long. Balancing it out and bringing high protein snacks for travel ensures we actually feel full for longer. Totally needed for every jet setter.
2. Fiber Content
When you’re reading a nutrition label check the fiber content. Why? Fiber helps to keep us fuller for longer and is needed for healthy digestion. Anything above 3 grams of fiber is considered a good source of fiber, and 5 or more is considered “high in fiber”.
Just beware of certain packaged products that have high amounts of added fibers like chicory root fiber and inulin. These can sometimes cause GI distress.
Most of us don’t get close to the recommend 25 gram of fiber we should be eating a day! To prevent constipation while traveling make it a point to incorporate fibrous foods like fruits, veggies and nuts and seeds.
3. Sugar Content
Sugar content will vary from snack to snack. Fruit, veggies and dried fruits contain natural sugars, whereas some packaged snacks can contain a lot of added sugar. Bars are notorious for their sugar content, which is why you want to pick ones that are lower in sugar and contain protein and fiber. The last thing you want is a sugar crash and no energy when you arrive at your destination!
Simple, mess free and easy to pull out of your bag when you’re running from gate to gate! This is a must for snacks which is why I like all of packaged items on the list below or packing fruits/veggies from home in a reusable stasher bag!
20 Dietitian Approved Healthy Travel Snacks
These 20 dietitian (and TSA!) approved travel snacks include ones that are gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly and low in sugar. They’re portable, easy to take-on-the-go and will fill you up and make you feel GOOD when traveling!
- RX Bar Single Serving Nut Butter Packet
- Purely Elizabeth Individual Oatmeal Cups or Plain Oatmeal Packets
- CHOMPS Meat Sticks
- Made in Nature Veggie Pops
- Made in Nature Figgy Pops
- Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers Snack Packs with Hummus
- Nuts or Low-Sugar Trail Mix
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Portable Fruit Slices
- Portable Veggies Slices
- Dried Fruit
- Air Popped Popcorn
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Ella’s Flats
- Low Sugar Yogurt
- Homemade Wrap/Sandwich
- Low Sugar Granola
- Nut Butter Stuffed Dates
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Baked Cheese Crisps
1. RXBAR single serving nut butter packets
These nut butter packets are the perfect portion size! Pair with an apple or banana or use on top of plain oatmeal for more protein. The vanilla almond butter is my favorite flavor, but you can’t go wrong with any of them!
2. Purely Elizabeth individual oatmeal cups or Quaker plain oatmeal pouches
Great for breakfast or a snack in between flights, oatmeal will give you extra fiber (extra important for digestion when you’re off your routine!) Get plain pouches and add your own fruit and nut butter or opt for these from Purely Elizabeth that are low in sugar and high in fiber.
Each stick has 9-10 grams of protein per stick, no added fillers and no added sugar — it doesn’t get much better than that! They are also gluten free, dairy free, AIP friendly, whole30 approved and low carb.
4 & 5. Made in Nature veggie pops or figgy pops
I love these little pre-made energy bites that satisfy your craving for something sweet while not breaking the bank for sugar. The veggie ones are awesome too and contain a good amount of fiber!
6. Simple Mills almond flour crackers snack packs
These are my favorite crackers because they’re made with nutrient dense ingredients and nothing artificial. They’re gluten free and perfect for pairing with string cheese or hummus for a snack!
7. Nuts or low-sugar trail mix
Think pistachios, almonds, or walnuts. You can find Wonderful Pistachios at most airports. I also really like Skinny Dipped Almonds when I’m sick of plain old almonds.
Trail mix is another great option, but be sure to check the ingredient label as many contain added sugars and extra oils. If you have the time, throw one together at home with nuts and seeds!
8. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of plant-based protein, fiber and magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax our muscles, and chill us out and who couldn’t use a little more of that on a flight?!
9. Portable Fruit Slices
Think carrots, celery or pepper slices. Cut them up ahead of time and store in a stasher bag to snack on in flight.
10. Portable Veggie Slices
Use the same concept as the fruit slices above but sub in some veggies instead – banana, apple, oranges, grapes, etc.
11. Dried Fruit
Think dried mango, apple rings, prunes, unsweetened banana chips. Here again it’s important to look at the label because there can be added sugar included. Dried fruit is sweet enough as is, so just make sure you see one ingredient (the fruit) only!
12. Air Popped Popcorn
You get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to popcorn. Meaning you can eat a lot of it for not that many calories, plus some fiber! Pair a serving (roughly 3 cups) with something on this list for a little extra staying power.
13. Hard-Boiled Eggs
One large egg is a good source of protein along with other vitamins and minerals. Pair hard-boiled eggs with anything on this list. My go-to is to pair it with a fruit or veggie.
14. Ella’s Flats
If travel constipation happens to your regularly (see what I did there?!), then I wouldn’t leave home without these! Dress them with hummus or cheese or make a mini high-fiber sandwich with them.
15. Low Sugar Yogurt
Grab this on the other side of security (yogurt is not TSA approved) and opt for one that’s low in sugar and contains simple ingredients like siggi’s.
16. Homemade Wrap/Sandwich
This is one of the best ways to make sure you have a snack/meal that is balanced and will keep you full for most of your travel. I recommend using a whole-grain bread, adding a source of protein like turkey, a veggie or two, and a low sugar spread like hummus.
17. Low Sugar Granola
While most granolas are loaded with sugar, it is possible to find some that are lower than 5g! But if you have trouble finding one, opt to make your own instead. This also gives you the flexibility to add the ingredients you know that you love! You can also give my Healthy Pumpkin Granola recipe a try.
18. Nut Butter Stuffed Dates
Dates are truly nature’s candy, and they are a nutritious treat that is easily portable. Since dates are primarily made up of carbohydrates, slice one open, remove the seed, and fill with your favorite nut butter. This will make it a balanced snack with carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat.
19. Roasted Chickpeas
These are extremely portable and you don’t have to worry about keeping them cold! Brands offer many different varieties of flavors to speak to your taste preferences. They’re also easy to make at home, so you can make a big batch and share with your travel partner. They’ll provide fiber and a little bit of protein.
20. Baked Cheese Crisps
If you like cheese, run to get these. They are perfectly crispy and cheesy. Simply enjoy them with a piece of fruit or veggie, or add them on top of a plain salad that needs a little more flavor and protein.
I like to bring a variety of these snacks because you never know what you’ll be in the mood far!
High Protein Snacks for Travel
Out of all of these snacks, if you’re looking specifically for higher protein snacks for travel (or at least more than 5g per serving), I recommend the following:
- RX Bar single serving nut butter packet
- Purely Elizabeth individual oatmeal cups
- CHOMPS meat sticks
- Made in Nature veggie pops
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Low Sugar Yogurt
- Homemade Wrap/Sandwich
More Healthy Snack Suggestions
- 25 Healthy Road Trip Snacks Nutritionists Swear By
- Best Protein Packed Snacks for Women
- 20 Healthy Dairy-Free Snacks Approved By Dietitians
- 13 Healthy Crackers Approved By Dietitian
Carry-On Essentials for Healthy Travel
While the food that you have on hand is one of the most important things, here are a few extras I always recommend adding to your travel bag too!
- Empty water bottle. Most every airport has a water refill stations attached to each water fountain…use them! Save yourself five dollars for a water bottle and BYO bottle for water.
- Portable charger. You can’t rely on the chargers near the seats at the terminals…you just can’t! And because literally my worst nightmare is my phone dying as I’m trying to get an Uber home, I always make sure I
- Probiotic Supplement. Tummy troubles can happen whether you’re traveling to a different country, or just a different state. Plus when you’re out of your routine and not drinking enough water, and eating enough fiber, constipation can become a real thing. In order to make sure my digestion stays on track I always pack my probiotic, and this one that I take from mindbodygreen is shelf stable which means it doesn’t need to be refrigerated to be effective.
- Neosporin. I started putting neosporin up my nostrils while flying late last year, and haven’t been sick after a flight since. Yes, it’s weird when the people I’m sitting next to on the plane see me stick it up my nose but I truly do not care at all if it prevents me from catching the nasties that are in the air on planes! I’m not opposed to a face mask either!
**This post contains affiliate links which means I may get a commission if you click one of the links and end up buying something.
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This article has been updated and edited. Originally Posted: June 20, 2019