The holidays are here! Visiting family and friends! Sparkly lights and parties! And road-tripping. And airplane food.  Airport security lines? Wait, we thought the holidays were supposed to be fun…

First, figure out what’s allowed.Liquids over 3.4 oz are not allowed through airport security, so buy your bottled water in the terminal. Pack wisely, and that could be the only thing you need to buy at the gate. Most foods are allowed through—just no pudding, yogurt, applesauce, or anything that might be called a “gel or liquid.” If you’re road-tripping, pack a cooler or possibly the greatest invention ever, a hot/cold pack.

Then, pack snacks.Don’t be that person on the plane with sauerkraut and Rochefort. Pack non-smelly, allergen-free snacks that won’t disturb your stomach or your seatmate.

  • Early morning flight? Combine ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup water, and a little honey in a leak-proof container. It will be perfect by the time you’re on the runway.
  • Wrap simple sandwiches in a layer of parchment and then foil: perhaps nut butter and whole fruit preserves, hummus and sprouts, edamame hummus and turkey. After coming out of the refrigerator, deli meats should be consumed within 3 hours.
  • Fresh fruit, like sliced apples. A squeeze of lemon will prevent discoloration.
  • Crunchy veggies. Think broccoli florets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices.
  • Hard-boiled eggs, in the shell. This violates the no-smelly-snacks rule a bit, but we can’t resist. Portable protein! Choline! Only 70 cals!
  • Nut Butters. For dipping or tossing back energy-shot-style. Justin’s makes all-natural almond, peanut, or hazelnut 80-cal packs. Portion control with no mess!
  • Dried or cooked ready-to-eat edamame
  • String cheese isn’t just for the kids. Delicious, satisfying, and you can make those single-servings last for a good 10 minutes.
  •  If you’re traveling with a particularly young or (ahem) enthusiastic child, consider packing treats for your seatmates as a gesture of goodwill. 
  • Bars. There are a million granola bars out there, so making your own is extra-special. They also make a lovely hostess gift, if there are any left J

Empty-handed at the airport/gas station/train station?In a pinch, you may have to find snacks at a travel hub. Flawless food safety is a tall order in airport delis more focused on speed than cleanliness. Stay safe with these always-reliable picks:

  •  Nuts and seeds: raw or unsalted almonds, walnuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds are great. As always, watch portion size!
  • Peelable fresh fruit, like bananas and oranges. That peel is a bacteria shield!
  • Unsweetened dried fruit like Peeled (ooh Mango!)
  • Yogurt: we don’t mean yogurt “parfaits,” which are loaded with fat, sugar, and surprisingly, sodium. Go for the sealed 6 oz. Greek yogurt. Add those sunflower seeds or a squeeze of almond butter!

If a delayed flight or layover has you hunting for a restaurant on the go, don’t let the chaos throw off your nutrition goals. Stay focused, and be careful of restaurant portion sizes. Keep food safety concerns when eating in major travel centers, where thousands of hands have touched every surface.

Want to know how clean each airport deli is actually? Look them up! Many states post food safety grades online, and airport restaurants are usually listed like regular foodservice establishments. For example, get JFK’s food safety scores at NYC’s Health Department.

Have a secret weapon.  No need to dig through a tote full of healthy snacks to find your boarding pass when you need to remember your gate. The Gate Guru app allows you to email your itinerary to the app, and it will index all your travel arrangements. Gate Guru automatically tracks your flight delays, security line wait times at your terminals, and available amenities (like places to eat) near your gates. Love it!!

Of course, it’s always fun to see if your hometown airport is one of those with the tastiest options. But after a week or so of mom’s holiday cooking and no gym access, you might want to think about the healthiest options. Happy Travels!