Pack for the Snack Attack

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It has been my experience that the "food and drink" category is the biggest wildcard while travelling. You plan to munch on the in-flight snack... but your fare category doesn't entitle you to a snack (or, as I've learned the hard way... water). Or perhaps your afternoon hike goes a little longer than expected. Cooking at the hostel seems like a great idea in theory, until you smell all the wonderful street-food your chosen destination has to offer.  Of course you should be partaking of local goodies, but there is no easier way to break the bank than going a little food-crazy. Packing a few travel snacks can absolutely make the difference between a $50 food weekend and a $150 food weekend.

What should I pack? And how much?

Think about where you're going, how long you'll be there, and what you may be doing. You'll expend fewer calories laying on a beach and meandering through museums than hiking a volcano or joining up with a city-wide walking tour. Think of how much energy you'll need, and go from there.

Why should I be planning out my snacks before I go? Most places have convenience stores. 

You're so right. convenience stores are everywhere. However, the markup in convenience stores can range from 40 - 80% on food items and  w a y  more on health and beauty. You'll be saving money before you even leave your city with a little planning ahead!

But my flight is going to feed me and I'm only planing on lying on a beach.

Fine then, don't bring anything - BUT - you'll be mighty irritated when your flight is delayed an hour, you don't want to buy airport food, and then you only get pretzels and coffee on your flight. Arriving in paradise hangry is the pits.

I'm driving.

What I'm hearing is "great picnic opportunity."

Katie, you're migthy persuasive... do you have any recommendations?

Why thank you! And of course I do:


My objective is usually something filling, healthy, and portable. I know I'm not alone when I say that I sometimes consume calories like an absolute she-beast on trips, so its important to me that if I'm putting a lot of crap into my body, I want to have a few healthier options on-hand as well.

Chopped veggies are pretty awesome to pack on the go. They're full of the good stuff (aka vitamins and minerals) and they help keep you hydrated- which is especially important while flying.

Small, portable fruit. Note that this is only legal on domestic flights. I think you're ok to get it through airport security, but bringing it on the plane is technically illegal. That being said, I've done it by accident more than once with no repercussions. Clementines are great, as are small apples (I lose my mind over the Trader Joe's organic apples-- because they're usually perfect snack size). Throw it in a baggie with a moist paper towel, and you'll have your snack, hand hand wipe, and trash bag all in one!

Another good option for meat-eaters is some form of jerky. Processed meat products can be pretty gross, but I particularly like the Trader Joe's Beef + Pork with Cracked Pepper snack stick. There are a handful of good vegan options on the market, too!

A non-fussy sandwich. PB&J can be portable if you're willing to be a little conservative with the jam... which I am not (but maybe don't eat this one on the plane - nut allergies are a real thing and being the cause of someone else's allergic reaction at 35,000ft is not a good look). A dry ham and cheese wrapped in plastic wrap is a great option. Snag a mini mustard packet from an airport restaurant and you're good to go! Important note: do.... not.... use.... foil. Made that mistake and nearly had a whole banana bread confiscated (I just had to rip it apart to prove it wasn't secretly a bomb).

Nuts pack really well. They're not the most soul-satisfying option (nothing like a bag'o'chips amiright?!), but the're filling and small. If you're an avid planner, you can make a few snack mix packs. My favorite = walnuts, good almonds (we're talking the kind that crunch, not the weird soft ones), banana chips, and maybe a few pistachios (still in the shells-- because I like an interactive snack experience). I've also fallen in deep, deep love with the World Peas brand of snacks (the vinegar fava beans are the best!)... and always, the Larabar minis. Same note about allergens on a plane - I'll use seeds and dried fruit if I'll need it for an in-flight snack.

I am  u t t e r l y  addicted to crunchy snacks, so cereal is a staple for my trips. One reason why I always prioritize free breakfast when searching out accommodations, is that most offer cereal.... so I only need to pack enough for my journey and then I can stock up in the hotel/hostel.

Last, and certainly not least, is a reusable water bottle. Staying properly hydrated goes a long way towards staving off hunger. If you're hydrating properly, you would potentially be spending way too much on bottled water. If you find yourself grabbing lunch at place without table service (ie, a coffee shop or food court), you'll be glad to not have to shell out more money for a beverage.

Check out some of my favorites!:


More reading:  An Afternoon Experiencing Milwaukee's Craft Breweries and Cocktails

  • What are some of your favorite snacks to pack for trips?
  • Do you have any hacks for keeping your food budget reasonable?

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Posted in How To, Travel, Trip Planning, Uncategorized and tagged , .


  1. So true. This is especially true for Iceland around the holidays. Most food places are closed and packing our own food/pots was essential to even eat as all the supermarkets were closed around Christmas. Similarly, we saved a lot of money on snacks by bringing granola bars from home!

    • Oh totally! I learned the hard way to look up major state holidays in new countries haha Store/restaurant closing are a real thing!

  2. Totally agree! I hate buying airport food (not just because it´s expensive but mostly they just have crappy products like weird coloured hotdogs costing 10 dollars or so…) and I always try to have some nuts and fruit wherever I go 🙂 Also, even alsewhere than in the airports, there might be no stores, or the store seller might decide they don´t want to sell anything to you because of whatever reason! Then it´s great to have some snacks. And a water filter.

    • Exactly. Even having one or 2 little things with you can make all the difference, especially in desperate situations.

  3. Great tips – especially re the foil for sandwiches! My two tips – don’t take chips (crisps) on planes because once my packet exploded with the pressure and it sounded like something you wouldn’t want on a plane. And 2 – be VERY careful taking any food when flying to Australia and New Zealand. If you have anything left that you haven’t eaten by the time you land, either leave it on the plane or throw it away in a bin. If you don’t then you are likely to get a big fine which isn’t the best way to start your Aussie adventure! 🙂

    • Good head up! I once bought a bag of chips and the guy sitting next to me said, "You might want to vent that before takeoff…" Fantastic advice!

  4. Hi Katie, these are great hints 🙂 I usually take a lot more stuff because I often hike in the mountains so almonds and brazil nuts are just my "side dish" 😉

    • Oh totally! If I’m doing intense exercise, I hit the local market when I arrive in whatever country/city- and then need to be ultra creative with calorie-packing for the energy intense days!

  5. Haha, this is the best name ever. But let’s get serious, it is very important to pack sufficient amount of nutrients, you are so right about that!

  6. Totally agree, I always load up my carry on with snacks and even sneak more in my baggage. It’s also comforting to know that if you can’t find anywhere at your destination or you’re homesick for some home-food (aka vegemite :p ) you don’t have to wait until you get home to have it!

    • Totally. I’m in love with these things called Larabars (didn’t include because they’re not universally available) and they always make it into my checked bags!

  7. These are great tips and yes, Katie, you’re mighty persuasive! I hate how convenience stores mark everything up. Carrying everything sucks but it’s worth it in the end. You should totally do a recipe post on your favorite nut snack combos. #inspiration.

  8. I hate being hangry!! 🙂 You’ve got it right on the snacks, you gotta pack em… otherwise local food is tooo tempting!!

    • Ah yeah! String cheese is one of those things that probably should be able to survive unrefrigerated, but miraculously is! 😛

  9. Great ideas! Apples are probably my favourite on the go snack, but clementines are amazing! And yes yes yes about the water bottle, I can plow through water like its the last I’ll ever see – I’m always thirsty!

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