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  • Justine Hays

Healthy travel snack hacks

Travelling can be a fun and exciting experience. It can also be exhausting, mentally and physically. You are doing your best to avoid meltdowns (adult and child), rushing to make connections or beat traffic, and through all of it the food is - meh.

Airport or rest stop snacks can leave a lot to be desired. Often the snacks are salty, high in sugar, loaded with fat, low in fiber, and frankly aren't that good. All that said, you and your family members need to eat in order to avoid that meltdown mentioned above. No one wants to travel with a hangry person, just ask my family and friends. Junk food and highly processed snack foods can also leave you feeling physically tired. Too much sugar can raise you up and bring you crashing down. Too much salt leaves you thirsty, puffy, and sometimes even a little headachey. It's just not what you need on travel day.

So what's the work around? Pack your own. I've come up with a list of solid travel snacks and hacks to make your experience a little less exhausting and a whole lot healthier!

Packing fresh veggies means a healthy snack is always within reach

1) Portion it out- no one wants to dig through a big bag of pretzels or pass a large container of carrots back and forth on a plane. Grab some snack sized zipper bags and portion your snacks out.

Portable fruit & cheese sticks are a must for my family

2)Get fresh- fresh fruits and vegetables are a great option when traveling. Some of my "go-to" choices are bananas, oranges or clementines, apples, baby carrots, celery, and cucumber because they are forgiving to bumps in the road and banging around a bag. The fruits are left whole but the veggies I'll wash, peel, and slice and portion into my snack bags. I avoid pre-packed fruit cups because they require a spoon and can spill the remaining juice if you hit a bump or turbulence. Sticky on a travel day is a fast track to meltdown. This is also why I love unsweetened applesauce pouches. My toddler loves pouches and we don't use them often for a variety of reasons. When I present her with a pouch she is beyond excited and I'm thrilled it's a healthy snacks she loves.

Save money & calories by bringing empty water bottles to fill as you travel

3) Drink it up- I pack shelf stable milk boxes for my toddler when traveling. She loves milk and in rest stops or airports it is often served in large cups with a straw or open jug type container. Bringing my own shelf stable milk means I can offer a healthy beverage anytime- without depending on stock or worrying about the cup being too big and spilling. We also bring empty reusable water bottles to fill up at water fountains. I bring herbal tea bags or pre-sliced lemon to drop into the water bottles for a flavor boost on the go. It helps us avoid the temptation of juice drinks, soda, and milkshake style smoothies.

Dried fruit can help with plugged ears on flights

4)Dried up- I always bring dried fruit when I am flying. Dried apricots are my choice to help prevent my ears from popping during take off and landing. They are chewy and sweet with no added sugar and are packed with fiber. I also always bring small boxes of raisins. They are perfectly sweet and letting my daughter hold the little box seems to thrill her. It's a win-win.

5) Crunch- I always save my "crunch" foods for the plane when I'm flying. I know airlines usually give out pretzels and they are perfectly portioned. If there is a crunch I'm really feeling, like cheese popcorn or whole grain pretzel bites, I'll bring them in a small portion bag.

6) Don't go nuts- don't bring nuts if you're flying. In the event someone on the flight has a serious peanut allergy, you don't want to be the person with the apple and peanut butter or PBJ sandwich. This type of allergy can be life threatening. Your favorite snack is not worth someone else's well being. Avoid bringing almonds, walnuts, or other tree nuts for the same reason. If you're driving feel free to bring nuts as long as it's cool with your companions.

Sandwiches and wraps from home are a huge time (and money) saver when traveling

7)Time it out- If you're flying and you have a quick layover during mealtime, you'll need to eat. If you're driving and get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, you'll need to eat. Pack a sandwich, wrap. or other hand-held eating device. Whether it's PBJ, turkey on rye, or leftover grilled tofu in a lettuce wrap, knowing you have a filling meal means you are prepared and won't be tempted to grab the less healthy stuff in a rush. What's more, if your flight is delayed and you're sitting on the tarmac for a while, you're good. No snack riots there.

8) Chill out- Are you asking yourself how can I bring all this on a long flight? Doesn't it get hot and gross in the car? I always bring ice packs or a cooler bag. I LOVE PackIt

bags. The entire lunch bag folds flat and goes in the freezer. It keeps food cold for about 10 hours. The inside wipes clean which is a feature I love! This cooler bag allows me to also bring cheese sticks and keep cucumbers cool without the added weight of a bulky ice pack.

Sweet treats can make the day special- without going overboard on portion size

9) Treats for you, treats for me- Travelling is stressful. Travel day is by far the most stressful day of your vacation. Bring a little something special for yourself or your family. My daughter loves m&m's. I bring a small tube of mini m&m's when we travel as a treat for her. I also bring yogurt covered raisins as a special treat for myself and my daughter. Chewing gum, Reese's pieces, and Milano cookies are treats for the traveling adults. Plus, bringing and portioning my own treats means I'm less likely to eat a "too large" portion served at an airport shop.

10) Save your cash and splurge- Since you packed your own snacks and avoided the outrageous prices at airports and thruway stops treat yourself to something special on your trip like a manicure, new book, or trashy magazine!

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