Traveling with food can be tricky. If you’re flying, it can take some serious effort to prepare food that’s TSA-ready, and if you’re driving, bringing snacks that stay good for more than three hours is a challenge. Here, we present our list of the top 11 life hacks for traveling with food. Well, what are you waiting for? Check it out for yourself below!
Number Eleven: Pack Food In Tightly Sealed Containers
If you’re bringing frozen food on a plane, make sure it’s in a tightly sealed container. There’s nothing worse than going through the trouble of freezing food so you can bring it, only to learn it’s beginning to thaw all over your brand-new bathing suit.
Number Ten: Buy Dry Ice or Gel Ice Packs
Most airlines won’t except ice that’s frozen water, so it’s important to invest in dry ice or acceptable gel ice packs. Be sure to check what your airline will accept before bringing it. For example, most airlines don’t allow coolers made of polystyrene products, and some airlines have limitations for how much dry ice a person can bring onboard.
Number Nine: Secure Your Cooler, But Don’t Tape it Shut
Once all of your food is arranged in a cooler, it’s important to keep it sealed. However, don’t, under any circumstances, tape it shut. Carbon dioxide needs to escape from the cooler, so if you have to seal it, use rope instead.
Number Eight: Put Individual Servings in Your Carry-On
If you’re flying with food for a large family, don’t bring it in your carry-on. Instead, package individual servings of food in your carry-on and put the rest in your checked luggage. If you freeze the individual servings, they will thaw faster and be ready to eat once you make it through the security checkpoint.
Number Seven: Educate Yourself Before Traveling With Food
Before going to the trouble of packing a delicious meal, make sure you can actually bring your food through airport security. If you want to bring a large bottle of salad dressing, for example, you’ll have to check it. The Kitchn has a great guide for what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Number Six: Utilize Whole Grains
It’s no secret that salads can be a tricky portable food, and most leafy greens don’t stay fresh and crunchy for longer than an hour or two. Instead of a spinach salad, try a quinoa-based salad instead. Similarly, whole grain pasta tends to keep better than regular pasta, so it’s best to use whole wheat or whole grain pasta when traveling with food.
Number Five: Warm Food Up With Hot Water
If you bring food that needs to be warmed, don’t even bother looking for a microwave. Instead, ask someone for a little hot water. Most employees at coffee shops will give away hot water for free, so if you have some whole grain pasta, pour the hot water over it, leave it for 30 seconds, and drain. Voila – a hot meal!
Number Four: Pack Picnic Food
When thinking about what you should bring, consider what you’d bring on a picnic. The food people bring to picnics can normally be classified as portable finger food – you should practice the same principles when traveling with food. Crusty bread, cheese, and deli meats make for a great snack when traveling with food.
Number Three: Don’t Eat on the Plane
It might be tempting to leave the food in your bag until you’re safely on the plane and free of stress, but this might not be the best option. Planes can be extremely dirty – especially those fold-down trays. Instead, just eat in the airport before you board. That way you can get rid of the trash (if there is any) as well.
Number Two: When in Doubt, Check It
If you’ve prepared a delicious meal and aren’t sure it can go through security, don’t take any risks – just check it. If you try and bring it through security and it’s not acceptable, you’ll be forced to eat it or throw it away. When in doubt, put it in your checked luggage.
Number One: Focus on the Big Picture
Above all, the number one tip while traveling with food is to focus on the big picture. Traveling with food should be a way to save time and money, not a source of anxiety. Think about simple, light, moisture-free snacks and only bring what you think you’ll actually eat. Happy traveling!