Kid-friendly snacks for travel with toddlers

Children eating snack foods from bento boxes. Photo: Katerina Holmes (Pexels)

If you’re about to embark on plane travel or a road trip with small children in tow, then you best start thinking about what snacks they will love and eat.

It’s hard enough to cater for kids with a full cupboard and fridge at home, but add to that issue being stuck on a plane, train or car to that equation, and it gets even more difficult.

On a typical day, sometimes no matter what food I’ve offered to my kids never seems to be to their satisfaction (at that moment in time..). And when they’re toddler age, I’ve often born the brunt of a tantrum or meltdown because of it (maybe I’m just unlucky?)

NOT what you want whilst hurtling through the air in a confined space, surrounded by fellow passengers. For 12 hours.

If you’re travelling on a plane – even if you order the kids meal on flights, it might not be to your kid’s liking, and sadly, they often include some sugary stuff in there (no doubt to appease kids), which may not be what you need to try and maintain calmness on your flight.

Also, airline meals are served at set times, and I think we all know that kids get hungry at NON-meal times. .Particularly jet-lagged kids, who have had their routines thrown out the window.

You are much better off taking some snacks that you know your kid will eat, and keeping it in your arsenal of a carry-on bag.

My strategy on a plane (where I’m not really able to stop somewhere like a supermarket, or have access to a food cart or the like) is to take a wide variety of snacks that I can magically whisk out of my bag. 

I mean really – whatever keeps them occupied for another 5-10 minutes!

What are good snacks for kids for travel?

You want to find items that are small, don’t get squashed easily, won’t spoil, and won’t make a huge mess.

I also like them to be healthy and low in refined sugars (I do let my kids have sugar, but I try to keep it minimal, and to special occasions. And you’re on holidays – there’s probably going to be more than a few special occasions!)

If you’re travelling on a plane, consider snacks that don’t have any strong smells (it’s always good to be kind to your fellow passengers, when you’re going to be stuck with them for 12 hours in a confined space!)

Snacks and foods that are easy to find and source for your return trip, are always a winner. Unless you are going to be packing enough food to bring on your way back, you’ll need to find similar products that your kids may still enjoy, possibly from a foreign supermarket or convenience store.

How do you pack snacks for long flights or travel?

I’d recommend putting some of these in zip-lock bags in your carry-on luggage, or some small snack containers (collapsible ones if you’re wanting to save on luggage space when they’re empty). Either way, these can be washed at your destination and re-used throughout your holiday, and on your travels back.

The zip-bags especially are great, because they take up so little room when they’re empty. Just make sure to re-use them as much as you can!

Best kid-friendly snacks for long flights or travel

Here’s my go-to list for kids’ travel snacks:

  • Sultanas or dried fruit
  • Fresh fruit – sliced apples can travel well in zip lock bags, otherwise blueberries, strawberries, grapes, mandarins are OK in a small snack container
  • Fresh veg – carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes
  • Cheese – cut into sticks or cubes
  • Crackers
  • Muesli
  • Yoghurt squeeze packs – Although I dislike the waste, the squeeze packs are convenient as you won’t need a spoon. Pro Tip: I freeze these before we depart, so they slowly defrost. Just try to make sure the ones you buy are within the limit for liquids on an international flight.
  • Plain boiled pasta – tossed in a tiny bit of oil, to stop them from sticking
  • Sandwich or toast – whatever you kid prefers (e.g. avocado, cheese), but PLEASE no peanut butter. I wouldn’t trust them to clean planes that thoroughly, the last thing you want is for some rogue peanut butter smear to be another parent’s worst nightmare for their anaphalylactic chlid
  • Muesli bars – I’m quite picky with mine to be low in sugar etc but whatever tickles your fancy here.

Fresh food snacks on international flights

Many of these things are snacks you can easily source overseas, because if you’re travelling internationally, you’ll need to pack all your snacks for the return trip.

You should note, however, that fresh food items (fruit, vegetables, dairy, etc) often need to be completely consumed on the plane, or left on the plane before you disembark. 

This is so you don’t get off on the wrong foot with customs officials at your arrival! 

Please check with the local laws and regulations for the country that you are arriving in, but if in doubt, expect that you should probably leave any left-over food that you’ve not consumed on the plane.

In countries like Australia, you must declare any food you bring into the country.

Also check with the rules of your airline.

Liquids, aerosols and gels rules

Also remember that international flights have a restriction for all liquids in your carry-on baggage to be in 100ml (3.4 ounce) clear containers, and these need to be all placed in a clear resealable plastic bag that can be shown for inspection.

There are exceptions for baby food.

Just be warned that some foods fall into the category of gels e.g. soft cheeses, yoghurts.

What are your fave snacks that are a hit with kids? If you have some to share, comment below!


1. Liquids rule.

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