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Lifestyle & Wellness

20 Top Healthy Travel Snacks (Dietitian Approved)

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!

4. Portability

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!

  1. RX Bar Single Serving Nut Butter Packet
  2. Purely Elizabeth Individual Oatmeal Cups or Plain Oatmeal Packets
  3. CHOMPS Meat Sticks
  4. Made in Nature Veggie Pops
  5. Made in Nature Figgy Pops
  6. Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers Snack Packs with Hummus
  7. Nuts or Low-Sugar Trail Mix
  8. Pumpkin Seeds
  9. Portable Fruit Slices
  10. Portable Veggies Slices
  11. Dried Fruit
  12. Air Popped Popcorn
  13. Hard-Boiled Eggs
  14. Ella’s Flats
  15. Low Sugar Yogurt
  16. Homemade Wrap/Sandwich
  17. Low Sugar Granola
  18. Nut Butter Stuffed Dates
  19. Roasted Chickpeas
  20. Baked Cheese Crisps
RXBAR nut butter healthy travel snack

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.

CHOMPS meat sticks healthy travel snack

3. CHOMPS meat sticks

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.

figgy pops dietitian approved healthy travel snack

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!

healthy travel snack nutritionist approved simple mills fine ground sea salt almond flour crackers

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
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Low Sugar Yogurt
  • Homemade Wrap/Sandwich

More Healthy Snack Suggestions

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!

Traveling to Thailand? Be sure to check out this post and this post too!

**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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15 Dietitian approved healthy travel snacks

This article has been updated and edited. Originally Posted: June 20, 2019

Travel

Thailand Recap: Koh Samui & Bangkok

We are definitely the relax on the beach with a tropical drink type people when it comes to vacations. The beautiful island of Koh Samui was a little over an hour via plane from Chiang Mai and was exactly the tropical paradise we imagined it would be. It was the perfect contrast to the busy streets of Bangkok where we ended our trip.

We got to Koh Samui on Monday (you can read all about what we did in Chiang Mai here) and absolutely loved the resort we chose and the beauty of the island. Breaking up the trip like this with three different places gave us the perfect mix of adventure, culture, and relaxation.

Koh Samui, Thailand

KOH SAMUI

We stayed at Six Sense Samui located on the northern tip of the Island of Koh Samui. It was a secluded jungle like resort where each hotel room was its own room separate from the others making us feel like we had our own little piece of the island. Our room had an infinity pool overlooking the ocean which I highly recommend if you are going to travel all the way over there! Every morning we drank coffee poolside watching the breathtaking sunrise. Yes, the big adventures of the trip were great, but it was these little moments watching the sky turn from golden yellow to orange, to blue that made it unforgettable.

Six Senses Samui
Maggie Michalczyk, RDN

The resort offered transportation to Chaweng Beach and Fisherman’s Village Bophut for a small fee which were each about 15-20 minutes away. That’s one thing to think about when deciding where to stay on this island. For us it was more about enjoying the quiet beach and the pool vs. venturing to one of the bigger beaches known for nightlife and activities.

We ventured out to Chaweng Beach on our first night and unfortunately ended up at a very touristy restaurant filled with westernized sushi and Asian food! From then on we knew the more authentic looking when it came to restaurants, the better. Fisherman’s Village was much more our speed and we had one of the best meals of the whole trip at a restaurant there. Other people vacationing were always so great to talk to and had the best restaurant recommendations!

One really unique aspect of Six Sense Samui that I loved learning more about was their sustainability and efforts to reduce waste and reuse resources on the resort. The property had its own farm with goats, chickens, and ducks all helping to fertilize the plants and flowers growing around the resort. Instead of plastic straws they used hollowed out lemon grass in the drinks and cleaned the rooms with a solution made from citrus skin that they ferment onsite.

Make sure you pack mosquito repellant especially if you are prone to bites! I am a mosquito magnet and did get quite a few bites on the island. The resort also had repellent available and I never felt sick from the bites, just itchy! Fisherman’s village was definitely more our speed and is where we had great food, less crowded shopping and a Nutella crepe dessert.

Koh Samui, Thailand

Ang Thong National Marine Park

On the second day in Koh Saumi we took an hour long boat ride out to Ang Thong National Marine Park, an archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand. One of the islands most famously known for inspiring the book called The Beach, which later became the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio…you know that one?!

The island hopping adventure started with snorkeling, something I was a little nervous about because it was my first time but once I made it into the water, I absolutely loved it! We were really lucky to be able to see so many different types of fish and ecosystems in the water. Our tour guides were so knowledgeable and pointed out some really cool fish and creatures of the sea.

Koh Samui, Thailand

From there we kayaked to another small island with amazingly clear blue water and then back to one of the main islands for a traditional Thai lunch and relaxation on the beach. The last stop on the tour was the island with the blue lagoon that inspired The Beach (the movie itself was actually filmed on Phi Phi islands). Word of warning if you’re not a fan of heights, climbing the extremely steep steps to the top of the lagoon might not be for you! The steps were more like a latter. It was totally worth it but something I know might not be for everyone!

The rest of our time on the island was filled with tropical drinks and relaxing. Hanging at the resort and enjoying their infinity pool and a traditional thai massage at their gorgeous spa was exactly what we wanted to do. The resort also had a beautiful full size gym overlooking the ocean and I enjoyed a very relaxing yoga class on the beach one morning.

BANGKOK

Bangkok, Thailand

Bustling bangkok was the last stop on our tour of Thailand. Our agenda wasn’t set in stone but we knew we wanted to explore the famous floating markets, the Grand Palace and Chinatown.

On our first night in Bangkok I unfortunately had a little bit of a stomach bug (I was thankful that it was at the end of the trip vs. the beginning) It was no fun but luckily white rice and emergency room service french fries (I couldn’t imagine eating any Asian food at that point!) helped calm my stomach. I highly recommend packing a couple different stomach medications in case one doesn’t really help. I found that pepto didn’t really help but was glad we had a couple different extra strength medications with us.

Admittedly uber busy cities are not my thing, so having two full days in Bangkok felt like enough time to see the sights and enjoy it for what it is. We checked out a huge mall and walked up and down the stalls of the ultimate market in Bangkok where we bargained for tshirts, handmade jewelry, ceramics and of course a lucky elephant.

Drinking “matcha in the garden” at a Bangkok street market
Gac fruit aka baby jackfruit

Exploring Chinatown stimulated all of the senses. The sights, the smells, the lights were all so different everywhere you turned. We tried durian for the first time–a fruit notorious for its pungent smell and even banned in some places because it’s so stinky. It had a custard like taste that lingered in your mouth a little. I’m not rushing back to eat it but it was fun to try and little did I know it is very high in nutrition!

Mangosteen and the traditional alphonso mangoes found in Asia were my favorite fruits to eat during the trip. The mangoes are so unlike any mango that I have ever had here in the states and we ate one pretty much every day!

Trying durian in Chinatown
Mango in Thailand
Alfonso Mango

We wandered the bustling streets of Chinatown and grabbed a dinner down one street where the best smells were coming from. I couldn’t tell you what the place was called but I think that’s part of the experience–finding the hidden gems with some of the best foods you’ve ever eaten.  

On our last day in Bangkok we visited The Grand Palace and The Emerald Buddha. We thought we were getting ahead of the crowds by going early but the grounds were still bustling with tourists also largely due in part to the fact that Chinese New Year was approaching. We opted out of a guided tour but rather took in the grounds at our own pace. I loved looking at all of the details and opulent colors and old world design. Totally worth the trip when you’re in Bangkok!

The Grand Palace

The Bangkok airport itself could be considered a tourist destination. It was super huge but very efficient. It’s further than I thought from the actual city of Bangkok itself. We gave ourselves plenty of time as we said our goodbyes to Thailand and I headed home by way of Japan!

If you are playing a trip to Thailand and have any other questions that I didn’t cover in these blog posts, feel free to leave a comment or email me at onceuponapumpkinrd@gmail.com

XOXO

MAGGIE