Traveling? A Nutritionist’s Tips to Stay Healthy in an Airport

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Staying active, making healthful food choices, and preparing ahead of time is challenging to begin with. Then, when you add the element of travel into trying to stay healthy, it becomes an even more difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be!

As you prepare for your upcoming holiday travel I want to share with you my top stay-healthy and fit travel tips that I use while I’m on the go.

1. Prepare Easy-to-Bring Snacks
If one thing is for sure, I always have plenty of snacks in my bag when I travel, but because I’m busy (just like I’m sure you are) I always try to keep it as easy as possible for myself. I’ll carry things like nuts, KIND and Chia bars (or make your own healthy bars) and while I’m cleaning out my fridge I’ll pack up leftovers into containers to bring with me for mini meals on the plane. For longer flights I’ll also usually pack a sandwich on gluten free bread, as simple as nut butter and banana or turkey. See my list of easy and healthy to-go snacks to help you plan your trip.

Easy to-go snacks:

  • Joe’s Hiking Fuel
  • Almond butter and Banana sandwich
  • Fruit
  • Leftovers (no soup because it’s liquid)
  • Lettuce wraps; all vegetable or turkey or chicken with lettuce and vegetables
  • Greek yogurt

2. Eat Before You Leave
I think of arriving to the airport or train station for a long ride just like I do when I go to a party; my main goal is to arrive feeling satisfied, never hungry. If you arrive at the airport hungry, you end up going for the quickest, easiest and usually most unhealthy option you come across.

To prevent this trap of unhealthful eating, I’ll usually drink a juice or smoothie on the way to the airport or make sure I have a balanced meal before I go and have my easy prepared snacks.

Easy to-go meals to enjoy before you travel:

  • Smoothie
  • Juice
  • Mini-meal or salad
  • Soup
  • Greek yogurt

3. Know Before You Go
Because my life can sometimes be extremely busy and I may not have time to prepare ahead of time, I’ll usually do a quick search of the food options available in the airport so that I have a game plan when I arrive. For example, I know that the Delta terminal here in New York’s LaGuardia airport has a fantastic selection of healthy snacks and meals that are allergy-free,  so I won’t worry quite as much if I’m not prepared when I head there. This may not always be possible, but when you’re able to find out what’s available it’ll never hurt to know.

4. Reusable Water Bottle
My reusable glass water bottle is something that I always have with me, full or empty. Although you can’t get through security with a full water bottle, try to drink a full bottle before you get to security. Then when you’re through, more and more airports have started to install water filters and drinking fountains closer to the gates so just fill it back up and keep drinking. Staying hydrated on an airplane is one of the best things you can do while in the air. You’ll also be saving money and avoiding plastic water bottles. Here are 13 reasons staying away from plastic is a good idea.

5. Walk On
Airports are great places to get moving. The long hallways call for long walks from terminal to terminal so embrace it. The key here is don’t be lazy! I love to use the long hallways and opportunities to move to rack up the steps on my exercise tracker. Especially if you’ll be taking a long haul flight, use those hallways and walks from terminal to terminal to your advantage to help your body stay healthy and fit.

6. Make the Best of a Long Haul Flight
Mastering the long haul flight is something I’ve had to get accustomed to for my annual trip to Australia. Finding ways to both get active and relax on the airplane can make the flight more enjoyable as well as help prevent blood clots, cabin fever, boredom, and ensure that you arrive at your destination feeling good. Here are a few tips I stick to:

  •  If you’re sitting in the bulkhead: Put your feet up the wall to help drain the blood from your feet (it helps with swelling)
  • Use those long aisles to take a hike: Get up and walk every hour or so to help prevent your feet from swelling and will also help to keep you calm
  • Drink plenty of water and stay away from the booze: Drinking at altitude can leave you extremely dehydrated and can even promote a headache
  • Use those long aisles to stretch it out: Stretching can help to prevent blood clots and prevent soreness from the long bout of being seated
  • If you have trouble sleeping on planes try a natural magnesium supplement such as natural calm (mixes with water); two other things I swear by are my noise-canceling headphones and my eye patch to help me sleep



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Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Isabel is a Registered Dietitian, wellness expert and fitness coach. Isabel has her own nutrition and wellness practice based in New York City, Isabel Smith Nutrition, but she works with clients and corporations both nationwide and worldwide in a variety of areas including skin health, weight loss, gastrointestinal issues and allergies, sports nutrition, general wellness and more. As a Guided Reboot coach, Isabel has helped hundreds juice their way to better health. When she isn’t helping clients achieve optimal nutrition and wellness, she can be found trying and creating new juices and making other healthy recipes, running, cooking, spinning, practicing yoga, and enjoying time with her two Yorkshire terriers. Isabel is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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