Whether you’re taking a road trip or traveling by plane, DIY snack kits are the perfect meal break to satisfy the belly and the budget.

Fast food is a travel treat in our family, but we know it isn’t particularly good for us. Airlines don’t offer the healthiest options, either, and they often come at a price.  Snack kits we’ve created ourselves, on the other hand, ensure we get at least a little sustenance without spending a ton. Plus, we can customize them for each family member.

Before you start throwing together meals for everyone, however, there are some things to consider:


Use disposable, nesting containers

I prefer the inexpensive reusable plastic containers, such as those made by Ziploc.  They save space by nesting together when not in use.  Plus, they’re rigid enough to keep food from getting crushed in transit.  You can also wash and reuse them during your trip.

Choose non-perishable, shelf stable foods

Travel, and kids, can be unpredictable. Don’t waste money on items that could go bad if they’re uneaten.  Foods such as nuts, dried fruit, and crackers you can save and then use as emergency snacks throughout your trip.

Make it a balanced meal

This isn’t always easy, especially if you’re limited to nonperishables. You can do it, though. The U.S. chain Cost Plus World Market, has lots of interesting little prepackaged items, including meats and cheeses.  I try to include at lease one grain, protein, sweet item, savory item, and treat in each meal kit.



Juice boxes, mashed foods, or even fruit cups may be frowned upon by TSA.  (Exceptions are made for baby foods, but be prepared to have it screened separately.) You may be able to get away with a small pouch of prepackaged applesauce, but avoid cups of fruit or anything in a liquid entirely. They’re messy to handle and could get you pulled aside at security.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Unless you know you’re going to eat them before you arrive at your destination, refrain from packing fresh fruits and vegetables.  Local authorities have restrictions on transporting such items from other countries due to pest or disease risk.  They’ll sniff it out, too. I once had my carry-on tagged by a security dog on arrival. She’d detected the piece of fruit that was in there only briefly 11 hours earlier.

Smelly foods

A small tin of tuna or chicken seems like a brilliant way to get some protein midflight; however, your fellow passengers will likely disagree. Even fast food smells can be offensive to some in an enclosed space.  Out of consideration for others, avoid the stinky, fragrant fare.

For more guidance regarding TSA food allowances, click on the link.

A good DIY snack kit is the best travel food for families. They’re budget friendly, customizable, and can go anywhere from a hike up the hill to a hop over an ocean.

Check out other essentials for traveling with kids in my upcoming post!