The Snacky Things (& Creature Comforts) Our Community Never Flies Without

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In one of my weekly newsletters, I asked readers to share what snacks and other plane prep products they take on flights. The Food52 community delivered, and I’m excited to share!

But first, a quick aside: Several of you referred to a story about plane snacks that I wrote for the New York Times in…gulp…2002. This could mean you have a great memory, or that I wrote something memorable, or that I’m old. Let’s not think too much about it.

In the story, I acknowledged that I was terrified of flying even though I was a frequent traveler. I’m happy to report that I finally conquered this anxiety after, oh, 30 years. My cures: exposure therapy, taking half a Xanax before takeoff, and getting seats as close to the front of the plane as possible, because at the front of the plane you feel and hear fewer of those Ka-thunks that make you think, What was that?! I actually look forward to flying now.

These days, I pack simply for flights. I make sure I have some dried mango or Turkish apricots, raw almonds, maybe a bag of potato chips or corn nuts, a bottle of Naked Mighty Mango, and sparkling water.

Here’s what our fellow Food52 flyers had to share:

Let’s begin with my mom:

Actually you know what I take on planes for nourishment—carrot sticks, celery, peppers, cucumber slices, sometimes romaine leaves. I am like a rabbit. The veggies are filling and add moisture without my having to drink a bunch of liquids which would cause me the need to use the unpleasant restroom. I sometimes take sliced cheese and crackers, unique pretzels, raw almonds and hard candies. It works for me and does not create any foul food smells for people seated near. Oh, when they come around with drinks, I like spicy tomato juice.

Laura, who had read my story of yore, wrote:

It made me think of plane food in a totally different way, as a chance to be creative, a little indulgent and healthier. My favorite is making a big grain salad (farro, couscous, quinoa, lentil, whatever I have) with lots of dill, chickpeas, parsley, good olive oil, lemon zest, mushrooms, and almonds. Everything tastes delicious when thrown into that—sometimes I leave it as is and sometimes I throw leftover chicken or steak on top. Also, I am a huge dork and invested in buying the adorable tiny travel tins of Maldon sea salt, which makes everything more delicious.

Laura eats well in the sky! Next came a very practical, no-nonsense bunch of travelers:

I take a peanut butter sandwich (the rest of the loaf and the jar are in my checked bag on long trips) and an apple, along with my favorite tea. —Rosemary

I always make sure I have Fiji water, the original Swedish fish, earbuds and a great book.—Siobhan

Water and chocolate. —Jan

Sandwich of good cheese on good bread, cut in half, each half wrapped individually. A few ounces of nuts. A couple of small, easy-to-peel citrus fruits (clementines, mandarins, etc.).—Nancy

Maura is also team PB&J but gets particular about the brands:

The one food for my plane rides: peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Teddie peanut butter. Dave’s thin-sliced White Bread Done Right. Smuckers strawberry or raspberry jam.

Nishi wasn’t into the food, but wow do they come prepared for all the rest:

EO lavender cleansing wipes (for wiping off everything around the seat including seat buckles and air vent nozzles). Emu misting hand sanitizer. As many “How Did This Get Made?” podcasts as I will need. Ultima Lemon electrolyte stick packs. Mini facial mist (like Evian or Mario Badescu) to help with dry air. A good lip balm (same reason). Saline nasal mist (again, for dry sinuses). A pack of facial tissues. Noise canceling earbuds. I wear Feetures PF relief socks to keep feet feeling supported during a long travel day. A Prairie Underground hoodie or Athleta wrap sweater in case it gets cold. Lem’s Drifters are easy on-off loafers perfect for airport security and comfy wear on the plane. A soft bristle teasing brush to get out tangles and add life back to hair. Spry spearmint xylitol gum. Peak Design crossbody carry-on to keep everything organized. 🙂

Janetta packs food she loves to counter her fear of flying:

I bring any combination of the following:
Soppresatta with gluten-free crackers.
Chicken salad.
Oven “fried” chicken and bow ties with peas and Parmesan from Shubies Marketplace in Marblehead, MA.
Raspberries which you would think would squish but they haven’t.
Really good chocolate.
And I always have a travel size thing of flaky sea salt.

Said Sandra, who just returned home after a month in Spain:

No matter where we go, I have a cup that’ll keep my coffee or tea hot and water cold and it somehow has a grounding effect on the entire trip.

Because I’ve had multiple cases of airplane ear since I was a child, and a ruptured eardrum several years ago, I always travel with Afrin, Earplanes, and plain Sudafed, or in a pinch, Benadryl 100% of the time.

Muji sells the best and even the cheapest little travel spray, pump, and other containers for toiletries. I’m obsessed with these, they are so good! I buy them online and then label them with my label maker.

Lisa packs a lot more than snacks:

Stand for watching TV on my iPhone.
Noise canceling beats by Dr. Dre for loud people that talk too much behind me.
Eyeglasses and a necklace for the eyeglasses so I don’t lose them.
A pair of socks if it is cold (I live in California and go to Hawaii a lot, so flip flops are often my ’shoes’).
And a bucket bag to tote all this crap and snacks.

A good bar of chocolate goes a long way for Alice:

1. An empty water bottle that I fill in the airport or on the plane. Airline stewards are usually very happy to refill the bottle rather than use a plastic cup.
2. Chocolate—the darker and fancier the better, for those exhausted moments when I really need a pick-me-up. My current favorite is the Coco brand cinnamon roll dark chocolate bar—although it may be something else by next week! 🙂
3. A salad from a Farmer’s Fridge in the airport when I can find one. Their salads are fresh and delicious.
4. A salty snack like Cult Crackers crunchy cassava crackers, as addicting as they claim.
5. A Ziploc of my favorite loose leaf green tea and Rishi biodegradable loose leaf tea bags plus PG tips tea bags for my (English) husband and a Ziploc of raw sugar or a tiny jar of honey.

Aimee’s essentials include one unexpected item:

Burt’s Bees lip balm original, dried mango, a tiny wooden bowl tucked into my purse that I use to store my wedding rings when we reach our final destination, and a book for the plane ride that I don’t usually read because I watch movies instead.

Beverly sent her list while she was at Sea-Tac airport!

1. 12 oz. Thermo flask water bottle with my own stickers. Fill up after security. Keeps me hydrated during all my travels without the plastic aftertaste.
2. Costco unsalted mix nuts and dried cranberries as an in-between meal snack.
3. Fruit bars; protein bars.
4. Club soda with a lime on the airplane.

Rachel, a former flight attendant, packs water bottles—just like us:

My #1 thing I bring on flights is a reusable water bottle so I don’t have to wait for the service to begin nor do I have to worry about covering a tiny cup when turbulence happens! This way, I can just put my lid back on and not worry about getting soaked. 🙂 That and snacks!

Anna Maria always takes the same snack on her overseas flights:

Always, a refillable bottle with water.
A cozy cardigan in case it gets chilly on the flight.
And if I’m traveling overseas, I have to have peanut M&M’s with me. Not sure why but I can’t fly without them.

For Althea, a bento box solved more than just her snack situation:

My last trip was from Detroit to Fresno for my father’s memorial. I brought a bento box in my carry-on with sliced strawberries, nuts, sliced cheese, deli ham, carrot sticks and a tiny tossed salad with spring mix greens, a few cherry tomatoes and thinly sliced red onion. I put a few packets of balsamic and ranch dressings with my toiletries ziplock.
Although these items probably could be found in an airport convenience store, it was comforting to have them ready when I wanted them without having to stand in line or be hurried between connecting flights. I had enough to think and feel enough as it was already.

And finally, Donna has a small but specific list:

An empty bottle to refill in the departure area.
Turkey jerky.
Two Baby Bell cheeses.
Vermont Store hard maple candies.
A Sumo orange.

What do you like to pack for the plane? Tell us below!


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