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Healthy snacking tips for planes, trains and automobiles

For many of us the holidays mean travel, and lots of it! With the abundance of temptation to overindulge this time of year, it can be even more important to seek out healthy options while on the go.

The key to staying healthy on the go is preparation. As a busy working mom that begs for more hours in the day, I know this isn't always feasible. If you don't have time to pack perfectly planned snacks, what other options are out there and how do you choose? Here are som guidelines to follow:

  1. If you are purchasing a snack, stick to items that are around 200 calories or less.

  2. Avoid high sodium foods when traveling, especially by air, as they can exacerbate dehydration.

  3. Pair healthy proteins with carbohydrates to prevent peaks in blood sugars and prolong satiety.

  4. Drink water! Skip the sugary stuff and stay hydrated.

Remeber, just because you are traveling doesn't mean everything you or your kids eat should be a treat. Healthy food choices promote even keel energy levels and moods.  Let's be honest, if you travel around the holidays (with or without kids), patience is key! In order to help you steer clear of junk food on your travels, here are some tips as well as my top picks for the healthiest food options available by plane, train, and automobile.

Road trip tips:

Are you piling into the car or boarding a bus to head to grandmas?  The bonus of a car/bus ride is you can pack a cooler and load it up with healthy treats like yogurt, fruit, low-fat cheese or even a sandwich.

No time for planning?  Grab the inevitable jar of nut butter in your fridge or pantry and pack it for the ride.  Come time for a pit-stop, grab whole grain pretzels, and an a apple or even some whole grain bread and you are back in business.  Pairing nuts which are packed with protein and healthy fat with a carbohydrate like an apple or other piece of fruit makes for the perfect family friendly snack on the fly.

Riding the Rails?

Do your research first as not every train is equipped with a café car.  If a café car is available, you can often find a few healthy items in the mix.  Most Amtrak trains offer Greek yogurt, a vegetable or fruit cup, fresh salads, granola bars and whole grain pretzels.

Taking to the sky?

I personally researched the airlines and their food offerings, taking all the guesswork out of flying! Here are my top picks for the top U.S. airlines:


  1. Choice Menu: Wild Garden Hummus Dip & Multi Grain Pita Chips

  2. "Morning Energy Selection" yogurt, granola, hard-cooked egg, pineapple and grapes.

  3. "Lunch and Dinner Mediterranean-style Salad" $9.29- Grilled zucchini, squash and bell pepper with olives, feta cheese, hummus and pita.

Jet Blue

  1. Free: Popchips

  2. Simple Snack: KIND Fruit and Nut Bar

  3. Meal: "Shape Up box" Milas Classic Hummus, Oloves Olives, The Good Bean Chickpeas, Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers, Sun Maid Raisins, Bobs Mint Ball, & Pamela's Simplebites Mini Ginger Cookies.


  1. Anytime: "Kickstart Combo" - Blueberry Chobani Greek yogurt, KIND Cranberry Almond mini and banana.

  2. Lunch/ Dinner: "Roasted Chicken Breast & Cheddar Sandwich": Sliced roasted chicken breast and cheddar cheese on an oat roll topped with roasted red peppers, arugula and garlic herb aioli.

American Airlines Group

  1. Breakfast: "Fruit & Nut Mix": Blend of almonds, cashews, walnuts, dried cranberries and roasted sesame sticks.

  2. Snacks: "Wild Garden Hummus & Pita Chips" or "Great Nut Supply Company Trail Mix"
    "Fresh Chicken Caesar Salad Bowl" (go light on the dressing)- Romaine lettuce with all white meat chicken and Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese.

Fly by quick tip: When it comes to airline snack boxes, the calories can add up quickly.  I suggest buying one box to share or ration out.  You'll also want to be careful around those pre-packaged trail mixes as they can be loaded with salt.

You can also stock up in the airport, as you should have no problem finding any of these healthy snacks:

  1. Bottled water

  2. Chobani Greek Yogurt

  3. Unsalted Trail Mix

  4. KIND Bar

  5. Evolution Freeze Dried Fruits (at Starbucks)

  6. ½ turkey sandwich (sans the mayo)

  7. Fresh, whole fruit like a banana or an apple

You see — there is far more good-for-you food available than you would think.  Snack healthy while getting from here to there and save room to enjoy the good stuff once you get to grandmas!

Katie Cavuto MS, RD is a registered dietitian and trained chef. She is the president of Healthy Bites, a company offering local and national culinary nutrition services. Katie is also the consulting dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies, and a regular contributor on local and national TV and radio as an expert in her field. To learn more about Katie, check her website at