Stay Healthy with Airline Travel

By Momma Wolf

airline travel

There are millions of people coming in and out of the airports across the world thinking they have no choice – thinking they have to eat airport and airplane food because it’s the only thing available. Unwittingly they are allowing their surroundings to control their food choices, and therefore their health.

Bring food with you to the airport & on airplanes

If you feel bloated, lethargic, and experience air-travel headaches; get back aches and leg cramps, and then are congested and miserable after you land at your destination, you don’t have to continue the madness. Bring your own food, take herbal supplements, and drink plenty of water when traveling by air.

Airplane food is heavily processed with tons of controversial additives and preservatives that don’t fit into a healthy lifestyle. If you are wondering how you can bring your own food on board it’s easy to do, but it does take a bit of prep time and you have to make sure that what you bring won’t get confiscated by the TSA at the security checkpoint.

TSA lets you bring food through security

In the United States and in most countries, the transit authorities allow you to bring food through the security screening and onboard. Here are some items that work well and don’t get confiscated:

  • Homemade sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper stored in a quart-sized plastic bag. Keep in mind that all food that you carry on will need to go through the x-ray machine at the checkpoint. So, never use any foil. They will want to search your bag and delay your travels.
  • Dips and sauces, such as hummus, salsa and almond butter, as long as it is in a 3.4 oz (or smaller) container, and put into a quart-sized plastic bag.
  • Fresh fruits and veggies, such as pears, red grapes, sliced fennel or jicama, peeled cucumbers, and avocados. Just wash them at home or in your hotel room before you put them in your bag. If you cut or peel them ahead of time, of course they need to be wrapped in parchment paper or put in a stainless or glass container. Keep in mind that you can also bring a butter knife to slice ripe avocados and bananas on the plane.
  • Crunchy snacks such as whole grain crackers, organic popcorn, kale chips, etc.
  • Dried fruit and raw nuts make a great snack on the plane. Make your own mix – 1/2 cup each of raw almonds, coconut flakes, dried cherries, mango, pineapple, or raisins, organic dark chocolate or carob chips, and raw cashews. The airport usually has trail mix, but it comes loaded with inflammatory oils, other additives are usually not raw or organic.
  • Pre-made salads in glass containers or BPA-free plastic. Salad dressing can be packed separately as long as it’s in a 3.4 oz. or smaller container. However, it’s easier to bring it already mixed into a salad or at the bottom of the bowl for mixing in later. (Just don’t forget to bring a fork!)
  • Empty thermos and empty water bottles – any size. These are great for filling up after you get through security.
  • DIY stainless tea ball or organic reusable tea bags for making hot tea in the airport before you board. Don’t use regular tea bags – they paper is loaded with harmful chemicals so the bag doesn’t break, and don’t use the hot water on the airplane. It’s not as clean as you would like, try to get it from a cafe in the airport before boarding.
  • If you are traveling with your child: baby food, breast milk and formula are exempt from the 3.4 oz. rule and you can bring those on the plane in any quantity needed.
  • Green juice in mini Ball or Mason jar containers packed in a cooler to stay fresh.
  • In addition to this list – Check out this app on the TSA website to search for what items may (or may not be) currently allowed in your carry-on.
airline bag

Tips for packing your carry-on bag

You can pack a cooler as one of your carry-on bags. There are some great travel coolers available, and even some that are on wheels that easily go through security for long flights or if you are traveling with family. Just make sure that it meets the size requirements for the airline that you are flying on. These are two favorites:

  1. eBags Crew Cooler – Designed to fit over your carry-on luggage as your second bag and comes in many different colors. Perfect for in-flight food.
  2. Coleman Wheeled Travel Cooler – This cooler has a hard plastic liner, which is good for either taking as your carry-on bag or checking in with your luggage at the airport.

Hydration and Healthy Food

  • Drink a lot of water, especially when traveling. Try packing a large empty water bottle and fill it up after going through security. Make sure you fill it up before you get on the plane, some airlines won’t do it for you.
  • Pack an extra empty plastic bag and fill it with ice from a restaurant after you get through security to keep your cooler cold. Just ask for free ice, they will gladly provide it. Some airports have food courts, where you can just help yourself too.
  • Most people haven’t had any trouble bringing in frozen gel ice packs, so you can try it – but there is a possibility that they would be confiscated. So, an extra bag for ice is a good back up plan.
  • For longer flights, pack some frozen food in your cooler. If you pack some frozen berries or yogurt in small containers, it will help to keep your cooler cool and slowly defrost during your flight.
  • If you find yourself in a bind or didn’t have time to pack food, don’t worry. There is fresh food available if you look for it. Many airports have a Jamba Juice, where you can pick up wheatgrass shots and some juice bars even offer fresh squeezed green juice or cold pressed juice in bottles (Yeah! San Fran airport!). You can always find fresh fruits (bananas, pears) and raw unsalted almonds in a store or restaurant at the airport. Check out this “Farmers Market” stand with plenty of real food options at terminal E of the Charlotte Airport:
  • If you are traveling internationally, only bring enough food for your flight in your carry-on because you will likely need to throw away any leftover food when you arrive at customs in your destination country.  Before you leave, review the customs restrictions for your destination, to see what you may be able to bring into the country you are visiting.
  • A great idea is to fill a thermos with about 3 inches of sliced raw ginger before packing it in your carry-on bag. After you go through security, fill it up with hot water from a restaurant and you’ve got hot ginger tea for your flight! Ginger tea improves circulation, reduces inflammation, and is antibacterial – everything you need on a flight. Try the Think Sport insulated bottles, and try this recipe:

In-Flight Ginger Tea

Prep time: 2 mins
Total time: 2 mins
Serves: 1


  • 3 inch piece of ginger root
  • Empty insulated water bottle
  • Option: unfiltered honey to taste


  1. Wash, peel and slice fresh, organic ginger root
  2. Place ginger root in an empty insulated bottle (add honey if using it)
  3. Fill with hot water after going through security – any cafe will gladly do this for free or sometimes for a dollar. (If you get it free, don’t forget to leave a tip).
  4. Enjoy hot ginger tea while you travel, on flight or anywhere!


You can refill your bottle again with hot water after you land – the ginger will last for another serving! Please choose organic ingredients when possible.

 Recipes that travel well for your flight:

Salads – These pack well, especially if they have some grains in them such as rolled barley or brown rice cous cous or orzo to help keep the greens from getting wilted. When packing a basic salad, layer the salad in a glass container with the dressing on the bottom, followed by the grains, and then layer the greens on top. Just stir it up on the plane right before eating.  Of course, this will need to be packed in a cooler with some ice to keep it from going bad if you don’t eat it right away.

Wraps – My absolute favorite thing to pack for a flight is a wrap, filled with lots of fresh veggies and greens. This keeps well for an hour with no cooler and is easy to eat on the plane.  Use an organic Lavash flat bread, whole grain tortilla, large kale or mustard leaf as your base, spread on some soft goat cheese, thinly sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and avocadoes, layer in fresh spinach or arugula leaves, some alfalfa or red clover sprouts, maybe some wild smoked salmon, dill and mustard and you’ve got a winner!

If you start from a destination with no kitchen – remember to hit up a natural food store or a Whole Foods market to stock up for your flight or have the hotel make you some raw fruits and veggies or a healthy real food meal to take with you.

If you know someone who is traveling soon, needs these tips and/or eats unhealthy airplane and airport food, please share this post with them! I’m sure they will thank you later for it – let’s change for the better the lives of people around us together!

June 10, 2023

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