One baby-sized pack of pretzels and a dry cookie for a five-hour flight? I think not. Airlines only give out the bare minimum when it comes to refreshments, often leaving travelers kicking themselves for not packing a more substantial snack. The key to a smooth flight and a positive overall travel experience is planning and preparedness, and this starts with the food in your carry-on bag.
While the quantity of snacks you’ll need absolutely depends on the duration of the flight, the quality of the snacks you pack for your journey can and should remain consistent. Choosing your ideal plane snack is all about meeting a number of criteria.
Give yourself a variety of options
You’ll want your plane snacks to satisfy whatever craving may occur at 35,000 feet, and it’s not always clear what those cravings might be—the body can get confused by early morning flights and disruptions in your daily routine. So, first and foremost, strike the right balance of savory, salty, and sweet snack options.
My general lineup usually consists of something like: a bag of Fritos Flavor Twists Honey BBQ Flavored Corn Chips, Skittles, and a few granola bars of different varieties such as Quaker Chocolate Chip or Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut. Here’s another ideal combo: mini Babybel cheeses, salt and vinegar chips, and M&M’s. These snack trios also offer three different textures, which can help stimulate your brain and your appetite on a boring, monotonous flight.
Sturdy, not-too-crumbly foods are the name of the game; these won’t squish or turn to dust when you’re asked to shove your backpack under the seat in front of you. And since air travel can be hit with unforeseen hours of delays, non-perishable snacks are the only way to go.
Watch out for travel pitfalls
Once you’ve got a flavor balance that suits your taste buds, you’ll also want to consider the logistics of travel. For example, there was a time when I used to crave apple juice on airplanes. (No idea why, but when the flight attendant would come around and ask if I’d like a beverage, I would always ask for apple juice.) I eventually came to discover that apple juice can have a laxative effect on the body, and that’s just not something you want when you’re thousands of feet in the air sharing a cramped bathroom with a bunch of strangers.
Convenience is a logistical issue, too. The best snacks are anything that doesn’t require utensils or too much assembly. Dipping snacks, like cracker sticks in cheese, are okay, but ideally you want a snack you can take straight from the bag to your mouth; this is because some turbulent flights require passengers to keep their tray tables up.
You also don’t want anything that requires a lot of cleanup. Asking for 10 tiny airplane napkins is just wasteful, and anything that can send crumbs flying is bound to cause a disruption to the other folks in your row.
This is the best guidance I can give you about choosing your airplane snacks for any travel you might have coming up. But maybe you’re an old pro. If so, what are your go-to airplane snacks? And which ones do you typically avoid?