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Your plane has been delayed for two hours and the kids are starving. You had planned to feed them with the breakfast service on the flight (rare these days, I know) – that’s out. But you are not worried because you’re a modern travelling mom who’s planned for every possible outcome. You’ve packed along some of the best travel snacks for kids that you could get your hands on for your trip.

These days, in-flight meal service can be quite sporadic, if it exists at all. You can buy food items on many flights, but if your children are anything like mine, they need constant feeding and watering, which means – PICNIC!

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about packing, now you need to plan, pack, and carry a variety of road trip snacks or your own meal tray of healthy snacks to feed your hungry travelling family. Perhaps even before, during and after the flight.

Picnic-packing success is all about the planning meals and snacks ahead of time. Key considerations include; the time of day of your flight or road trip departure, food likes and dislikes, food allergies, and basic practicality.

avocado and vegetable sandwich
A delicious veggie sandwich on whole-grain bread is a perfect and easy travel meal.

The Best Travel Snacks for Kids

If you’re travelling during the day and especially over a meal-time, pack food items that will fill hungry tummies. And be sure to pack a selection of your choice of bite-sized snacks for toddlers and older kids.

We’ve had great success with foods that our kids love: cold pizza, cheese, and fresh fruit. We’ve made sandwiches filled with Nutella, peanut butter and other nut butters, and mashed avocado sandwiches on firm, whole-grain bread. Home-made cheese quesadillas are big winners too.

I shy away from meat products due to concerns about potential spoilage and customs issues, though we love and pack beef jerky. Avoid tuna or egg salad for reasons of smell and spoilage. Your seat mates won’t be too impressed as soon as the smell of tuna hits their nose. Be a considerate traveller – it should be a golden rule. Note: If you’re booked on a red-eye or night flight to Europe, you do not need to pack a three-course meal. A few snacks should cover it.

bagged snacks of nuts and energy balls
Individually bagged snacks make it easy for everyone to have their own healthy treat bags.

Favorite Healthy Snacks for Kids

Here’s a list of some of our favorite road trip snack ideas and food items – perfect to enjoy on the road or at 30,000 feet.

Granola bars, homemade trail mix, chocolate or energy bars, dried cereal (i.e. cheerios), string cheese, dried fruit, beef jerky or dried pepperoni sticks. Other foods that picky eaters may enjoy are crackers, cheese snacks, sesame snacks, baby carrots, celery, dried fruit, fruit leather, real-fruit gummies, hard candy or lollipops, and bubble-gum. (*this can really help if the kids suffer from ear-pain on descent)

Don’t pack these foods

Soft fruit: mushed pear in the bottom of your backpack? Yuck.

Meat products: Unless they are dried (i.e. jerky). Fresh meat products may be prone to potential spoilage, unless you can keep them well-chilled.

Over-processed pre-packaged snacks: Too artificial, too much sodium, too much fat.

What to do with Liquids

Liquid items are out unless you buy them in the airport once you’ve cleared security. Breast milk for babies is the one exception.

We always pack empty refillable water bottles to top up once we’ve cleared security. You can also buy water at an airport kiosk. Most airlines are pretty good with in-flight drinks service, but it never seems frequent enough to keep everyone hydrated.

Pack a Picnic

You might wish to divide up some of the food items to lessen the load on you. Individual Ziploc plastic bags are handy and keep things in tidy order. Better for the environment are reusable snack containers.

Give each family member a small food bag to fit into their backpack or shoulder bag if possible, with the promise that they have to share what’s inside with everyone else of course. (This can be difficult if Skittles or Smarties are involved.)

Tip: Pack some special snack items that you don’t normally have in the house, like hard candies or chocolates, as a special treat for the kids. They pack well and provide some good energy when needed. Springing them as a surprise treat has also been known to prevent travel meltdowns, which is an extra bonus.

Pin for Later

Tips on packing a good variety of healthy travel snacks for your kids and family. Good eating on the road or in the air is key to happy family travel.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Shutterstock

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What are your favourite healthy travel snacks? Share your recommendations below.


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