Guest blog post: Healthy Travels: Avoiding Those Taunting Treats in Airport Terminals


by: Cole Millen 

Between checking into the airport two hours prior to departure, the end of an era when inflight meals were offered and lengthy layover durations in between flights, travelers are bound to get hungry sooner or later during their journeys.  Whether traveling for business or pleasure, staying focused on making the following healthy choices during the trip will ensure feeling your best during flight.  This strategy will also enable you to reallocate high calorie indulgences to savoring the local culinary delights of your final destination.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Before you even set out for the airport, factor in some time to sit down to a complete and nutritionally balanced meal at home before you leave.  This is an equivalent of the old adage of never going grocery shopping on an empty stomach.  By filling up on that healthy meal at home, impulse eating will be deterred when you are faced with the overwhelming array of foods in the airport terminal.

Choose some favorite healthy snacks that you normally enjoy and pack them into your carryon bag or purse.   Some good dry goods examples include unsalted nuts, unsalted pretzels, granola bars, protein bars, peanut butter with crackers or rice cakes, cutup vegetables and an apple or orange.  Leave the yogurt home since liquids and gels are no longer permitted past airport security.  Bottled water may be purchased at the airport for an inflated price.  Instead, drink your bottle of water on the way to the airport and then put the empty bottle in your bag for refilling at the terminal’s drinking water fountains once you have passed through the security gates.  Drinking plenty of water will keep you hydrated and help you to feel full.

Healthy Choices On the Menu

A growing number of restaurant chains, many of which abound in airport terminals, now offer more enticing healthy options on their menus.  Most restaurants offer salad platters, grilled meats, sandwiches and vegetarian choices.  Do your homework before the day of travel by finding out what restaurants are available in the airport and in the city to plan your mealtime strategy ahead of time. It is important to research the city as well because you never know when your flight will get canceled and you’ll get stuck clueless. I recently was stuck overnight in Miami and managed to make quick plans with the help of some consumer reviews from a site I found. I pulled up a list of the Miami hotels and managed to find one right next to a healthy restaurant for the night. The type of cuisine you eat is also important.

A healthy Mexican option might be a grilled chicken soft taco or burrito served with a side dish of beans.  Opt for salsa as a topping instead of sour cream.  Choose condiments such as mustard or light vinaigrettes instead of mayonnaise or creamy dressings for sandwiches and salads.  Stick with water in lieu of sodas.

Magazine stands, delis, coffee bars and other smaller venues offer healthy pickings to go.  When purchasing a snack to enjoy with your reading material, opt for protein-rich unsalted nuts instead of potato chips.  If you crave a sweet treat with a coffee break, choose a lower calorie muffin instead of the cream-filled, chocolate-frosted pastry.

Avoid Tummy Troubles

If your stomach tends to protest air travel, avoid foods that can trigger nausea and acid reflux.  Caffeinated beverages, citrus juices, alcohol, fried foods and rich foods should all be avoided.  Stay away from processed foods that are loaded with fat, sugar and salt.  Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water will keep your digestive system humming along and prevent dehydration that can ensue during the stresses of traveling. Take a seat while you eat.  Dining on the run can lead to stomach upset, regardless of your meal choice.

You Are Free to Move About the Terminal

Maintain your exercise habits by staying on the move while waiting to board your flight.  Take a stroll and window shop, use a bag without wheels as a carryon, take the stairs instead of the escalators and walk the length of the terminal rather than use the automated walkway.  This mobility will burn off calories that you consume during your journey.  The time spent walking those extra steps will also keep you too busy to stop and smell the cinnamon rolls that should be avoided.

Traveling does not have to result in the frustrating consequences of derailing your healthy meal plan.  By following these tips, you will fend off the unhealthy temptations and feel good about yourself when you step off the plane at your final destination.


Cole Millen is an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life’s best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate “experiences.” Follow his blog at Cole’s Mill.

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