How to Eat Healthy While Traveling – What Foods You can Bring Through Security

Eating healthy on the go can be extremely tough, not to mention expensive. The healthy food options in the terminal and on the plane are lackluster at best. You may be surprised at the number of nutritious foods you can bring through airport security.

When you are traveling your body is under extreme stress, whether you notice it or not. It is easy to be in a great mood when you are heading to the beach, but your body may not be so relaxed. Anytime you are way out of your element you are subconsciously on high-alert for dangers and threats. Add in a little jet lag plus the bacteria in the airport and you have yourself a nasty combination that could ruin a trip in no time. Not to fear, you can stay healthy and feeling great even if you are halfway across the globe. (and not break the bank)

The TSA states that you cannot bring more than 3.4 fluid ounces of liquid through security. Unfortunately, they do also count other non-liquids such as spreads, dips, sauces, etc. So the peanut butter and hummus will have to stay home, go in your checked luggage, or be purchased on the other side of security, if they are over 3.4 fl oz. The 3.4 fl oz limit isn’t a joint number, but rather a limit per container. It is always smart to bring a small bottle of hand-sanitizer since you will inevitably be touching a ton of germ-infested things.


3.5fl oz or Larger Spreads Cannot go Through Security


I am sure the rest of the passengers on the plane will thank you for not cracking open your garlic hummus at 35,000 feet! Don’t worry, there are many other healthy choices you can walk through security. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Nuts
  • Bananas
  • Avocados (plastic knifes are fine)
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Carrots (small dipping ranch only)
  • Crackers
  • Kale Chips
  • Dried Fruit
  • Granola Bars
  • Ginger Snacks
  • Even a Sandwich (maybe no onions on the plane)


Another reason these foods are great to pack is they aren’t super easy to crush in your luggage on the way to the airport, minus the banana. One thing you will want to avoid is wrapping anything in tinfoil. Since all your belongings are going to be X-rayed at security, it will save you a violation of your 4th amendment rights if you remember to pack your snacks in plastic. Speaking of plastic, you can bring plastic or glass water bottles through security as long as they are empty. It will save you $3 if you just bring your own empty bottle or thermos. Many airports have special water fountains that make filling a bottle easy once you have made it past the boys-in-blue.


Just Place Your Bottle Near the Sensor and Go!
Just Place Your Bottle Near the Sensor and Go!


While you are waiting at your gate there are usually a number of stores to buy juices or bottled water at a hefty premium. There are no size limits for beverages purchased on the “air” side of security, you will just need a thick wallet. Once on the plane you will notice your options for beverages – without high-fructose corn syrup – is extremely limited. Even the “ginger”-ale they offer on the flight has very little ginger and a lot of sugar and syrup. Your options for non-HFCS beverages is water, coffee, black tea, and maybe juice. Ask to see the bottle or can of juices they offer, more times than not they will be full of added sugar and syrup. If those choices don’t sound appealing, be sure to snag healthy juice or tea before you board. I love Honest Tea brand with honey! (when it isn’t $4) What I recommend is to bring your own tea bags and just ask for hot water while on the plane. They will bring you as much water as you’d like, so be sure to use the restroom even before you have to go. If the pilot kicks on that seat-belt light, you could be squirming the rest of the flight.


If you are like most people, you have experienced motion sickness at some point while flying. You never know if you are going to hit bumpy air so it is important to prepare. I like Trader Joe’s Gingermints, they are like Altoids but with ginger. (plus they help your breath if you forget your headphones and score a seat next to chatty Cathy) Another option is to bring ginger tea bags, just keep in mind they may suspend drink service if it gets bumpy (when you need the ginger the most). If you get really bad motion sickness most convenience stores in the terminal will sell Dramamine, just be ready to pay $5-6 for a single dose.


Trader Joe's Gingermints
Trader Joe’s Gingermints


The most important thing to remember when traveling is to NOT skip meals, especially breakfast. Your body is working overtime when you are on-the-go so skipping a meal is a bad option. That is why it is so important to pack a couple of easy to carry, healthy snacks. If you forget to bring snacks and don’t want to eat the bleached-flour pretzels offered by the airline, grab some raw almonds in the terminal. Almonds are high in magnesium and protein which are very important for your body and mind when you are on the move. Oh, don’t forget to stay hydrated, even if it is cold (which the planes always seem to be) you can still get dehydrated. Keep water with you and sip it even if you are not thirsty.

For the traveling mother, you ARE allowed to bring as much breast milk as you’d like. There are no restrictions to the fluid ounces of your milk when going through security. Just be sure to let them know you are bringing it with you so they don’t have to dig through all your things. Another must-have item in my arsenal of carry-on’s is wet wipes. Even if you are not traveling with little ones it can be a life saver to have some disinfectant wipes with you. They are great for small spills or if you want to wipe down the tray table on the plane, one of the most germ infested items you will come across.

Can I bring supplements and pills through security? Yes, you can bring any legal pills, and in my experience, any quantity. I have brought over 100 pills through, half being vitamin C and the other half being ginger capsules. I have not had any issues or added searches because of it. Obviously if you bring prescriptions with you, make sure the name that is on the bottle matches someone who is in your party with you.


They Will Spot it, So Make Sure You Are Supposed to Have it
They Will Spot it, So Make Sure You Are Supposed to Have it



You can bring food and empty bottles through airport security. If you want to bring larger liquids or spreads with you, you will need to check your bag. Remember, most airlines cut-off checked baggage 45 minutes before the flight leaves. If you get stopped with a bottle of wine at security, you will either need to go back to the counter and check your bag, or hand it over to TSA ‘destroy’…. on their break.

Traveling does not mean you have to give up on your diet or pay $8.50 for a chicken wrap at the airport. With some proper planning you can bring healthy food along and keep your body properly nourished. If you have any other good tips for eating healthy on the go, please add them below.




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