Family Vacation Tips

What Food Should I Pack to Take on the Plane for my Kids?

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 19, 2017 8:00:00 AM / by Mary Ellen Nunes

Mary Ellen Nunes

What can kids eat on an airplane Woohoo, you’re heading on vacation! Itinerary is set, bags are packed, boarding passes are printed & you’re off to the airport.

What’s that?  Your taking your kids on a plane? Yes, you will definitely need to eat something either before boarding or while on your flight.  Domestic flights within the U.S. and flights to the Caribbean and Mexico no longer serve free food.  Many low cost airlines to Europe or other foreign destinations require passengers to purchase meals. Airline food offerings are usually expensive and might not be appetizing to a chicken nugget palate.  

Before we get started, here are a few pointers on how to pack food....

1. Ziploc style bags are a parent's best friend.

2. Nuts, Nutella and Peanut Butter sandwiches are all great snacks for travelers but understand fellow passengers may have a severe allergy. Sometimes you'll hear announcements from the flight crew that someone on board suffers from a severe nut allergy. Nothing worse than packing a delicious snack that you're not allowed to eat.

3. Although fresh fruit is a wonder portable snack, if you're traveling overseas you may run into hurdles at customs. When flying, opt for pre-packaged fruit snacks when you're headed to foreign countries.

4. ALWAYS bring water on the plane. Dehydration is common ailment with airline travelers. It's recommended passengers drink 8oz of water for every hour you're in the air. You'll also need extra water with you  in case you're flight is delayed for take off or landing when flight attendants are not allowed to serve.  Collapsible water bottles can be found in the camping departments of major retailers or bought online. Many airports now have water bottle filling stations. Great for the environment and it saves not having to buy everyone water after TSA security checks.  Need a little extra kick... pack some individual tea or flavor packets.

5. Remember to pack a return "airplane picnic" for your return trip home.


Get your Fruit and Veg

Head to the grocery store before you go and create your own blend of dried fruits.  Pick up a box of sandwich zip bags and give each child their own personal snack combination.

Dried veggies give you a great crunch without the guilt.  Look in your local Whole Foods or similar grocery store for dehydrated, dried, or roasted & seasoned veggies & beans.  

Apple chips (dehydrated fruit chips)

Hummus and chips

Fruit roll ups


GoGo Fruit squeezes




Protein Protein Protein

Beef jerky -- or any jerky -- travels well.  Pick your favorite protein - beef, buffalo, turkey, lamb, chicken, gator, venison, bacon --  and your favorite flavor.    Protein keeps us satisfied for longer than carbs and fats, so it's a great choice for the longer flights.

Everything is Better with Cheese -Babybel String cheese or Sargento cheese snacks are also a great choice.   Pack your favorite Laughing Cow spread to go with your favorite cheese spread to go with those crackers. Don’t worry about refrigeration - cheese is really best served at room temperature.

TSA does allow "FROZEN" ice packs. Good idea to opt for smaller sizes that adhere to their 3-1-1 rule.  This allows you to pack things like Deli Sandwiches and hard boiled eggs without fear of spoilage.

Protein or power bars (watch for nuts)


Hit the Bar for Breakfast

 No, not THAT kind of bar..this is a family flight!  

Cheerios or your favorite breakfast cereal

Bagels with cream cheese

Fruit muffins

Granola bars

Cereal bars


Gimme Some Sugar

Do you really want to wire kids up with sugar at 30,000 feet?

Probably not but sometimes parents need some leverage.


Pre-packaged cookies and cakes (bite size or lunch size portions will limit consumption)

Annie's bunnies

Animal crackers

Graham crackers


Rice Crispie Treats

M&M (because they melt in your mouth - not in your hands)

Most flights offer juice, soda, coffee or tea as a complimentary in-flight beverage, so you’ll be able to dunk!


Salty Snacks


Wheat thins

Pita chips

Trail Mix (careful of nuts and melting chocolate)

Ritz bits crackers with cheese

Remember delays and weather "happen".  A good rule of thumb to follow when packing snacks and food for a flight - how ever many hours you plan to be in the air, double it and pack food portions accordingly.  

Also....turbulence can and does happen. If anyone in your family is prone to motion sickness and plans to eat on the plane, pack a change of clothes in your carry on just in case.


Need help with other travel planning for your next family vacation...

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Topics: Affordable Family Vacations, Family Vacation

Mary Ellen Nunes

Written by Mary Ellen Nunes

Mary Ellen is our Vacationkids expert on all things Disney: From the parks to cruises and Disney's Adventure Bound vacations, Mary Ellen will help you plan your Disney vacation. She is also a Certified Family Travel Specialist from the Family Travel Association, having been helping families create amazing memories since 2014.

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