This page may contain affiliate links, which means that we may earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
Oh snacks how I love you so. And not just for myself (although I’m always down for a good snack) but also for the magic that they work on my children.
If I could only give someone one piece of advice for traveling with young kids it would be this: bring good snacks!
I remember taking road trips growing up and a highlight was always seeing what snacks my mom had packed. Usually it was something like cream cheese and raisin bread sandwiches, popcorn, and fruit.
Which may not seem all that exciting… But it was something that we didn’t get very often, so to us it seemed like a real treat. And something about eating on the go always seems to make food taste better. Am I right? That’s the magic of travel snacks.
The problem is that unlike road trips where you have virtually unlimited space for snacks (or at least that’s how my family approaches road trips), when you’re flying your space is limited and precious. So deciding on just the right snacks and how much of each to bring is something of an art form.
Here are a few tips for picking the right snacks to bring on the plane.
Bring several different snacks and keep mixing it up when they get bored. Even switching from crackers to raisins can feel like a new activity for a young child. Pulling out a new snack can be a great way to stop a meltdown in it’s tracks.
2. Novel, but not too much sugar
New snacks are exciting snacks. My kids love getting snacks that we don’t have very often. Even if it’s something ordinary like goldfish crackers, if it’s not something we have in the house often it feels like a treat.
I also try not to pack a lot of sweet treats because I think it tends to get them wired up, which isn’t exactly what you want on a long flight. Aim for things that they don’t get all the time but aren’t necessarily packed with sugar. It’s all about the novelty of it.
3. Not too messy
There’s nothing worse than realizing that you’ve brought a disastrously messy snack…after your kid has already started chowing down on it.
One time I thought it would be a great idea to bring fresh blackberries. Yeah…. within about 30 seconds, half of them were smeared all over my son’s face and clothes and the rest were dumped in my lap. It was a banner start to that flight! From that I learned what I probably should have already known- that fresh berries are delicious, but not great for flights.
So make sure to choose snacks that are not going to make a huge mess. Chocolate is another one that melts everywhere, especially if your kid is like mine and likes to hold it in his hand for a while before eating it…
This might seem obvious, but it’s tricky to bring anything that requires refrigeration. Unless you’re going to eat it quickly, go for snacks that won’t spoil.
5. Packaged conveniently
Make sure to store your snacks in a way that is accessible and easy to distribute to hungry kiddos. It can help to pack snacks in small, separate containers to reduce the chance of spilling.
Plastic baggies are my favorite. Yes, some snacks can get a little squashed, but I like being able to save the space that containers take up. And then as we eat the snacks we get lighter as the trip goes along.
It can be nice to bring one or two snack catchers to put snacks in. These great little containers have flaps that prevent the snacks from spilling everywhere. For babies, this is a snack and entertainment all in one- how do I get that snack out of there?!
6. Think ahead to the flight back
Make sure to save some good snacks for the flight home. By that time everyone is tired from the trip and it’s even more important to have some good snacks up your sleeve.
Usually when I’m packing for a trip I’ll fill a bag with snacks for the return flight. Then I stash it in the suitcase so I won’t be tempted to dig into it during the trip.
Some of our favorite plane snacks:
After many, many flights we have some snacks that have really stood out as favorites. Here are some of our top choices for baby and toddler plane snacks:
- Fruit and veggie pouches
- Pirate’s Booty
- Veggie straws
- Animal crackers
- Goldfish crackers
- Fruit leathers/fruit snacks
- Granola bars
- Banana bread or muffins
- Suckers- the sucking can prevent their ears from hurting due to the pressure change when the plane is ascending and descending
- Ice chips- it sounds strange, but this kept my little guy entertained for a good 20 minutes. You can request a cup of ice chips from the flight attendant and give them little pieces to suck on. This works great for a teething baby. Just make sure the pieces aren’t too big.
Seriously though, snacks are your best friend when traveling. It’s food and a time-filling activity all in one.
It never ceases to amaze me how long my kids can stay content if they have a snack in front of them, especially if it’s something they don’t get very often.
Plus, my kids have a tendency to get hangry when they haven’t eaten in a while (I wonder where they got that from…) and a well-timed snack perks them right back up.
I’ve preempted many a tantrum by getting a needed snack into a fading child at the right moment. Works like a charm. And it also has the added benefit of keeping their mouth busy for a while so mom and dad can enjoy a little peace and quiet. I’d call that a win on multiple fronts.