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Traveling? Pack Food in your Suitcase

August 25, 2011
Traveling with food in your suitcase

After my post about exercising while traveling, you probably thought my next post would be about eating while traveling, right? Well, this is a precursor to that post – it’s about traveling with food – food that you bring with you in your luggage when traveling.

I do that now.

I’ve been away from home for almost two months now – here’s a picture of my latest suitcase. I swapped out my US bags when I stopped at home for 10 hours about a week ago now that I’m back in Italy. The bag of food is on the left and it takes up about half of the suitcase, but less depending on how much else I need to pack.

Traveling with food in your suitcase

I find it’s really important for me to have a few staples in my diet in terms of breakfast and snacks that I can fall back to regardless of my location. Also, some of the things I like to eat aren’t available in every place I go so it’s just easier to bring them with me.

The best thing is that my suitcase inevitably gets lighter as I consume the food, and makes room for gifts and more clothes to take back. Most things are replaceable back home, so in a pinch I can abandon them if I need to at the end of the trip.

While in the US, I traveled with many of these things in their original packages or in smaller Ziploc bags at one time or another – I didn’t always have every single thing on this list in my suitcase at the same time –

  • Emergen-C – while not really food, when I feel a bit under the weather I’ll take one of these instead of chugging a glass of OJ (my first instinct)
  • Chia and flax seeds – definitely not easy-to-find ingredients, so I carry a little bag to sprinkle on yogurt or chia seeds for a smoothie
  • All-Bran (sticks) cereal – incredible source of fiber, sprinkled on yogurt. A box will last a week or so and bringing one from home saves me a trip to the store
  • Honey (squeeze bottle / packets) – I add this to unsweetened Greek yogurt which means I always have a sweetener with me. I found single serving packets in coffee shops in Italy and I bring a few as backup or to slip into my purse
  • Justin’s Nut Butter packs – a perfect size for an afternoon snack (sometimes two) or when there’s nothing else handy – better than carrying around a jar of nut butter if I’m not in one place longer than a week or two (then I’ll bring a jar of nut butter and/or jam)
  • Wasa crackers – I’m not eating a lot of bread, so I like these crackers which are high in fiber and low in calories for my nut butter / jam snack or even with cheese. And they travel much better than other crackers
  • Almonds, walnuts, other nuts – a bag of raw almonds for a quick snack or on top of yogurt or a salad. I always buy in bulk as nuts vary incredibly in price from one place to the next, so I’m not paying 4 euro for 100g (4oz) of nuts, which is common
  • Protein powder – for a smoothie or to add to yogurt for some post-workout protein or as a filling snack
  • Dried dates and/or figs – combined with the nut butter, an excellent snack and great by themselves, too. I also bought several Lara Bars and enjoyed them, too
  • Small cans of beans and tuna – I don’t recommend traveling internationally with beans in your suitcase, but for shorter trips I throw a can or two in my suitcase to be able to pump up a salad.
  • Protein bars – while in the US this trip I did a bit of a protein bar “crawl” and tried out a bunch of protein bars to find out which ones I liked best in terms of protein and taste (I’ll post about this later). I keep one or two in my backpack and a few more in my suitcase for a quick meal / large snack if I’m going to be out all day / at a conference.
  • Rolled oats/oatmeal – a container and sometimes pre-measured in a little baggie with cinnamon, cacao, etc. to just add water / protein powder / honey for a snack later
  • Spice grinder / hot pepper – I have a few fresh spice grinders I use on a daily basis (like combo garlic/salt or pepper/salt or hot spices) so I’ll sometimes bring that or a little bag of hot pepper so I can sprinkle it on things and spice them up like a salad or steamed veggies

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So there you have it. Do you pack food while traveling? What goes into your suitcase?
11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2011 4:03 pm

    Definitely important! I remember doing this when I went to the UK for 6 weeks back in 2004. I’ll probably do it again come Oct/Nov travels in Europe. 🙂

    • Sara Rosso permalink
      September 1, 2011 9:48 am

      What will be in your suitcase? 🙂

  2. August 25, 2011 6:48 pm

    This did give me a few ideas! Thanks for pointing me to it. I eat oatmeal everymorning (instant) which is easy enough to stuff 5 in my purse and just add hot water on the road. Also I need to start packing my vitamins.. I find they are the one things that I feel (whether it is just psychological or not) make my digestive track feel somewhat normal. I see you do that with your flax seeds 🙂

    • Sara Rosso permalink
      September 1, 2011 9:49 am

      I think the All-Bran really helps with the digestive track – mixed with yogurt they give it a great crunch and better than eating them on their own.

  3. January 22, 2012 6:27 pm

    I too always pack snacks when I’m traveling. My favorite are nuts since they pack all the energy you need and you can get a good variety based on what you like. I like portioning them in little baggies so that I’m never overeating when I snack and they hardly take up any room in my carry-on bag or brief case. Best of all, I know that they’ll get through the security screening process without a hitch! Safe travels!

  4. Kelly permalink
    March 8, 2012 12:59 am

    Have you ever had issues with them opening your suitcase and being suspicious? I’m wanting to send some specialty flours to a friend by way of her husband who is in town visiting. I have some almond flour and coconut flour sealed up in vacuum bags and labeled as to what they are, but my husband is worried that TSA is going to see them in the scanner and think it’s bricks of cocaine! hahaa Seriously though – have you ever had issues with food in your luggage?

    • March 8, 2012 8:29 am

      So it’s easy to check which foods are allowed in which countries; as long as you aren’t bringing in illegal food you shouldn’t have a problem. TSA may open bags to inspect them but for drugs they often use additional swabs/scanners/detection to determine it’s really drugs, and not almond flour 🙂 I haven’t had any problems, personally.

  5. CAD permalink
    March 18, 2012 10:20 pm

    Traveling over to Florence in a week to cook a Mexican feast to some hungry college students. Tortillas, beans, chips, salsa, etc. Will I encounter any problems in my checked bag?

  6. Judy Hop permalink
    September 7, 2017 4:48 pm

    Going to be going to Guatemala for a week in October. Not a good idea to eat any vegetables down there. Will I get thru customs with apples/celery/cauliflower/baby carrots??

    • September 7, 2017 4:54 pm

      Hi Judy, I have no idea what Guatemalan customs will allow, it’s best to check with their official policy, but I can’t imagine that they will allow fresh produce as most countries tend to limit that. Good luck.

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