Have you ever found yourself frustrated by the experience of traveling, particularly when you're conscious of what you eat (or when you're making a concerted effort to do so)? The airport - for many of its modern conveniences - is often sorely lacking in real food, a extra-super-sorely lacking in vegan/ gluten-free options. While this is changing (hurrah!), it can be helpful to go into a travel situation with a bit of a plan. Knowing what's ahead makes your selection process a little easier, and makes planning ahead a little more essential.
Many homemade food options are TSA-friendly, and will allow you to sail through security sans probleme. Anything packaged - like Macrobars, other nut-seed bars or trail mix - are great clean-eating options. I've also taken an unopened bag of baby carrots and a whole tub of hummus without a problem.
The key is to find foods that are nourishing (yay!), yummy (essential!), and won't make TSA officers think you're going to go illegally plant hummus trees or protein bars in a foreign land. Because of course you aren't. Because that's not a thing. You just want to feel great while you travel AND not have to feel like the only option for you is weak black tea AND not have to feel compelled to eat questionable food court food, right?! Plus, it's always nice to have something you know is going to be delightful if the in-flight meal is unidentifiable (or in my case, always packed with things I choose not to eat. I *love* that the vegetarian option is always pasta with cheese. Thanks, airline. Le sigh.)
But fear not, plant-eating traveler! You have options!
Here are some other fun make-ahead snack and meal ideas to keep you fueled and energized (read: non-cranky) as you fly through the skies!
Eggplant Chips (I'm making a gigantor batch of these for our upcoming trip to Europe!)
If making snacks ahead isn't an option, here are my go-to's for finding food in the airport:
Nuts and seeds. These are light, won't spoil and are available in every airport (I've been in a lot; I can promise you that this is a standard). Avoiding sugar-packed, salt-coated, M&M-laden trail mix is key, here, so take a peek at what's really hiding in that package before you walk away with it. Aim for unsalted, roasted varieties -- peanuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds -- and make note of the serving size. Easy to travel, also easy to overdo (especially when that flight gets into Hour #5 and you feel like you're starting to go crazy.)
Sushi. Many airports now offer some version of sushi, and if you can find a brown rice veggie roll, that's generally going to be a great option! Skip the soy sauce if you're gluten-free; add a seaweed salad for extra nutrients.
Mediterranean or Chinese food, adapted. If your airport has a food court, look for a places that serve individual components of meals, ie. rice + steamed or roasted veggies (no sauce, no MSG, no meat thrown in), or hummus + salad + stuffed grape leaves. You'd be surprised at what's hiding in the Zorba the Greek menu, for instance, if you dig into the side dishes and ask for some modifications.
Starbucks. Yes, contentious, I know! Check out the Evolution Fresh juices (the Sweet Greens is their best option), or their raw-ish nut/seed bars.
Salads, soup and grain salads. Is there a wall of prepackaged sandwiches in the magazine shop? There's a good chance they also have salads, or some kind of premade throw-together bowl.
Remember that hydrating is also super important! I always pre-hydrate in the few days before a flight, and drink throughout it (to the chagrin of my seatmates, usually, as I have to pee every 20 minutes). My advice? Grab an aisle seat and keep chugging the water down. Your body will thank you when you land!
Travel safe, foodie! Take care of you.