Your bags are packed, you’re ready to go, but…do you really want to use one of your carry-on items as a giant food cooler? I know I sure don’t (it rarely matches my outfit) and with luggage fees constantly increasing I’m assuming you don’t want to use up your precious carry-on space loaded down with food, either.

By now most of you are probably aware that I travel a lot for work and never seem to be in the same place more than a week, right? I get questions on social media all of the time about nutrition, how I consistently make healthy choices while on the go, and if there are any items that I always make sure to bring with me. But if I’m not rushing through the airport loaded down with a cooler of food, what AM I doing for healthy food options when on the go?

I definitely racked up a number of frequent flyer miles before I got the hang of it, but now being prepared with certain items is just second nature. I don’t overcomplicate things but I do have a few trusty items that can always be found in my purse (even on road trips) that have seemingly saved the day (or helped ease a near hangry situation) more times than I can count. As a bonus, not only does having these healthy options on hand help you keep your fitness in check on the go, you save money by not having to buy every single meal or snack once you get to your destination. And seriously- who doesn’t love saving some money, especially when traveling, right? Every bit of savings counts!

So how do I stay prepared while still keeping it simple? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: you’ll never catch me loaded down with a week’s worth of prepped meals while traveling. Packing that many meals just gets too complicated, not to mention certain countries won’t allow you to enter their country if you have meats and veggies on you (I found this out the hard way years back when traveling to compete in my first world championship).

And just being honest- by the time I get to my destination and put all those meals in the fridge, they’re not in prime form or terribly appetizing anymore anyway. I don’t want to risk wasting the food and to be perfectly honest (and I doubt I’m alone in this one), I’m not a huge fan of eating 5+ day old cooked chicken and veggies.
Instead of casting all my meal planning habits aside when I travel, I take another approach that’s helped me navigate (OK, well I’m not flying the plane, but you get where I’m going with this one) the friendly skies my own fit travel way, across 5 continents and counting!

Here’s a rundown of how I pack my food and what you’ll find me on the plane with during my travel day:

Depending on the length of the travel day I will often bring a few prepared meals with me, as long as they fit in my mini lunch cooler tote that fits into my carry-on. I pack the items in bags (helps to fit more food than packing in Tupperware) and will bring anywhere from 2-5 meals to have on hand in order to get me through the full day (or more) of travel to my destination. Since we can’t control whether we experience a travel delay, missed connection or the fact that the food choices at some airports are less than desirable (I recently had a layover where my only options were cinnamon rolls or a food court full of fast food chains, so was quite thankful that I’d thought ahead and brought along a meal from home) than others, having a few of our typical healthy meals on hand helps. Proteins that “travel well” and are less likely to offend your neighbors on the plane include chicken, turkey and beef. Fish can be a bit much when you’re in close quarters on a plane and I’ve found that it just doesn’t taste too great after it’s been packed in your tote for 12 hours. Not to mention you’ll get some dirty looks or remarks from nearby passengers and I’m quite certain the flight attendants aren’t a fan of cleaning up tilapia remnants.

The non-perishable items I carry with me in my purse always help a ton, too. While I have enough in my purse or carry-on to get me thru the travel day itself, these non-perishable items are something that I’ll pack more of in my checked bag. Having the items below on hand helps to make things more cost efficient (this way not every meal or snack has to be purchased during your travel) and also helps making a healthy choice when you’re extra hungry that much easier.

And the non-perishable food items that I always have with me in my purse for road trips, flights, or just in case I need an emergency snack:

– Protein powder (individual packets of this or pack in Ziploc baggies)
– Oats in individual packets! I’ve whipped up some oatmeal midflight by using the hot water they have on board for tea and pouring my oats in an empty cup, then stirring in the hot water. Extra hungry? Add in a scoop of protein powder for more of a meal!
– Single serving packets of PB or almond butter (I’ll eat these on their own or add them to my oatmeal for a more filling options)
– Almonds or pistachios (delicious, healthy option to always have on hand! Packed with heart healthy fats, some fiber and protein, these are my go to for in between meals)
– Protein bar- Fit Joy bars are packed with protein, fiber AND actually taste delicious. I typically bring 1 bar for each day of travel. I’ve found that when traveling internationally, good bars can be more than double the cost of what we get them for at home, so plan ahead and pack one