20 Snacks to Pack to Avoid Airport Rip-Offs


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woman's hand holding strawberry by airplane window
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Getting hungry while traveling is inevitable. Plan ahead and bring travel-friendly food to avoid buying in a terminal or aboard a plane, where normal retail value can more than triple; even having a small snack on hand can be the difference between hours of hunger or dropping up to $20 on overpriced, often mediocre, food. Consider legal limitations when packing (AARP has a video), opt for foods that will stay fresh, and be courteous to others by avoiding foods that are smelly or require lots of fussing to enjoy.

Dried Peppered Beef Jerky Cut in Strips
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Whether it's classic beef, turkey, or even salmon jerky, these soft and chewy dehydrated meats make excellent on-the-go snacks. Most come in shelf-stable packages and pack a lot of flavor and protein into a small portion size.

Cheddar Cheese Sandwich
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Soft cheese tend to be stinky and gooey, especially when warming to room temperature, but hard cheese will stay put between bread and not release as much funky smell when opened. A simple cheese sandwich with a bit of mustard or fig jam is a satisfying snack any time.

All Natural Homemade Trail Mix
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Homemade trail mix is cheaper than store-bought, and allows customization. Load up on chocolate chips when feeling indulgent, or stick to heart-healthy seeds and antioxidant-rich dried berries to snack on. Beware rules against nuts that guard against allergic reactions.

Chocolate Bar Pieces
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A chocolate bar can ease the tensions of flying with its decadent, comforting flavor, yet takes up virtually no space in a carry-on, and is easy to wrap up and save parts of for later. When traveling to or from a warm region, keep chocolate next to a cool bottle of water to stay firm.

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Fruits are a great source of natural sugar and energy and can be eaten at any temperature. Hard fruits such as apples, and fruits that have their own shell, such as oranges, make the best travel companions. Avoid softer fruits such as bananas or pears that tend to mush in a bag.

Carrots and Celery Sticks
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Healthy and crunchy, veggie sticks are fun to munch on by themselves or with a small packet of dressing for dipping. Stick to vegetables that stay fresh for a long time without refrigeration, including carrots, celery, and bell peppers. Broccoli and cauliflower can get smelly, and cucumber wilts fast once peeled.

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Salty snacks including chips, pretzels, and crackers will stay fresh for an entire trip. Opt for packages that protect the product, or snacks that tend to be hard rather than brittle, to avoid ending up with a bag of salty crumbs.

Peanut Butter and Jelly
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This comforting classic satisfies any hunger craving, sweet or salty. The hit of protein from the nut butter provides long-lasting energy, while the sweet fruit offer a pick-me-up.

Healthy Homemade Mason Jar Salad with Egg Bacon Lettuce and Veggies
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Packing a salad for a plane is all about layering ingredients correctly. Using the salad-in-a-jar method, place the dressing in the bottom of the container, followed by lettuce, then toppings. When it comes time to enjoy, shake to combine.

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Stash a pack of gum and a favorite candy in a carry-on to have something to snack on during long waits. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candies can also help alleviate ear pain from pressure changes.

Instant Oatmeal
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This indestructible packet of wholesome goodness just needs a cup and some boiling water -- most flights offer it for tea -- to become a nutritious meal.

Miso Soup Packet
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Freeze-dried miso soup comes in slender packets that can be mixed with hot water to create an umami-rich snack or light meal. Add other elements to the soup or enjoy simple as is.

Deli Wraps
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Self-contained wraps are an ideal travel sandwich. Ensure a wrap stays fresh for many hours by avoiding wet ingredients such as fresh mozzarella or roasted red peppers; opt instead for flavorful spreads such as pesto and dry proteins such as grilled chicken.

Assorted Cookies
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Stashing a few homemade cookies in a bag will come in handy when the dessert craving hits. Packed in a zip-top bag, they will stay fresh for up to a few days (though they are likely to run out before that).

Granola Bars
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Bars have a high nutritional value in a small package, a handy hack for those who like to travel light. Slip a few bars into coat pockets for easy access at any time during travel.

Quinoa Grain Bowls
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This hearty meal can be an alternative for those who dread plane food. Choose a favorite grain and toss with vegetables and chicken or tofu, dress with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Packed in a plastic pint container, it's a no-fuss, one-container meal.

Pasta Salad
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This picnic staple stays fresh over a long time. Ensure the best flavor and texture by using al dente pasta and a sauce based on olive oil and vinegar, not the more perishable mayo. Load it up with cheese and meats for extra satisfaction.

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Bringing cakes and pies may be too cumbersome, but brownies are easy to stash for midflight snacking. Wrapped individually, they can go in a purse or pocket for even easier access.

Pita Sandwich
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Pita pockets help keep sandwich ingredients contained -- they have only one open side. Stuff pita with favorite fillings, such as chicken salad, deli meats, or Greek salad.

Cheese and Fruit Plate
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Pre-cut slices of a few different cheeses and pack into a plastic container with some dried fruits, a small bunch of grapes, and some crackers for a bit of decadence in the sky.

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