Junk food is comfort food and when we’re in transit, we’re in need of some serious comforting. While traveling itself can be a joy to experience, the antichamber of airport terminals is similar to a birthing process. You have to squeeze yourself through crowds and wait in cramped lines before you can gallop down a deserted beach on horseback at sunset. Ok, that was a disturbing analogy, so let’s just forget about that and move on.
Healthy packed lunches aren’t hard to do, but airport-friendly ones can be a challenge. Regulations on importing food varies from country to country, but the general rule is that wherever you’re going, they don’t want your foreign produce to come in with you. Add to that the limitations on liquids you can carry through security, the number of hours between what you make and when you want to eat it, plus the hassle of carrying it with you, sometimes literally, halfway across the planet.
The alternative? Oh, how I laugh. I still haven’t even mentioned the multitude of times I will specify at reservation time “Lactose Free” and either get a vegetarian meal, laden with cheese, or, as United does, hand me a tray with a cup of Mott’s apple sauce on it and some crackers that has whey in them. (Whey, people…a byproduct of curdled milk…) Nice going, United. There are some airlines you can count on to take your dietary needs seriously: Singapore Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, British Airways (sometimes), Virgin, to name a few. But times are tough and we can’t always choose which airline we want to fly with if we want to get the most bang for our buck. Is a small portion of warm food every few hours really worth the extra hundred dollars for your ticket? No. So…
5 Travel Essentials for the Lactose Intolerant and Hungry
Classic PB & J’s:
Handbag friendly and still tasty when squished between your laptop and magazines. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are hassle-free, take a second to put together before you leave your house, and in a moment of panic, have the uncanny ability to make you feel like you’re standing in your own kitchen again. Bliss.
You know where it’s from, and you know its been washed. Dressing can pose something of a problem unless you can find those single sized portions and stick one in your Ziplock beauty bag for liquids. (Another contribution to the death of style and luxury in the travel industry — who needs a Prada makeup bag when you have to pull it all out and put it in a Ziplock anyway?)
A movie-watching staple at home, these make an awesome sleepy food, as a bunch of carbs and a glass of wine usually puts me right out to sleep. Pack these ahead of time and it won’t cost you $6 in the airport shop, either.
Aside from not welcoming your local produce from wherever you’ve come from, flights to Australia will even walk down the aisles with a spray of disinfectant to kill anything you might be breathing, too. So try this: bring fresh fruit for the first leg of your journey. Eat what you like, and leave what you don’t eat on the plane before you leave. For your connecting flight, have a pack of sealed dried fruit ready. If you can find them, dried nectarines are a sweet burst of summer happiness after the saltiness of the pretzels, plus they gave me a much-needed burst of energy on my last trip, too.
This last item comes with a caveat — a lot of instant cup noodles have lactose in them, and thus do not belong on this list. But in the past when I’ve come across lactose free instant noodles, asking a flight attendant to fill it up with boiling water has never been an issue. Easy peasy, and satisfactorily warming and comforting.
Bonus Packing Tip:
If you’re traveling to pastures unknown and/or places with bathrooms unfamiliar, you may want to pack a ziplock with these handy items:
- packet of travel tissues
- antibacterial lotion
- moisturizer for face and hands
Ziploc, I salute you! You’ve made my life a haven of organization. Click here for Real Simple magazine’s ’10 New Uses for Ziploc Bags’. In particular number 9 that reminds you Ziploc bags can actually be used to store food in your fridge. But try to remember Ziploc makes reusable containers, too. (Captain Planet signing off here.)
Click here for more dairy free recipes, survival tips and foodie heaven in general at my other blog, BellyHealthy.com