I’m a bit of an oddball when I travel, and that’s OK with me. I’m the one who carries five notepads in her handbag, preferring to write than watch the in-flight entertainment; who Instagrams every meal, even a handful of activated nuts; and who takes her own food on board the aircraft, asking only for cutlery and a cup of hot water for her organic green tea bag. Yes, I am one of those. But it was only recently when I became unapologetic about it.
I was on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles two weeks ago. I was travelling with my friend, Amanda, who also prefers to avoid plane food like a bad smell. We brought our own food onto the plane and whipped out coconut-coated chicken schnitzel and quinoa tabbouleh salad as others were being served one of three less-than-appetising meal options. I’m not going to lie; people stared. The passenger next to Amanda asked which allergy she had. Having been asked the same question a million times over on previous flights, Amanda answered: “Everything. Gluten, lactose…” He asked me the same question. Ordinarily, I’d have answered similarly to Amanda. But, for a fleeting second, I thought: “Why?” So, I said: “I just choose to eat this way.” It was the first time I’d answered that question on a plane honestly. And, you know what? He accepted my response. No ridicule. No weird look. It felt pretty awesome. I wondered why I had ever worried about what others thought about what I eat on the plane. And I wondered if other passengers had been staring because they thought we were weird, or because they were eyeing off our delicious food!
Tips for eating well when flying:
- Determine how many meals you’ll need (dinner, breakfast, snacks, etc) to reduce likelihood of waste. When travelling to another country, you can take food on the plane but when you get there you’ll have to discard any leftovers.
- Pack leftovers from a meal you cooked the night before, or buy a wholefood meal from a salad bar or similar to take with you.
- Make the ‘fresh’ meal (leftovers or the salad) the first thing you eat as soon as you get on the plane so it doesn’t start to smell or go bad. You’ll have a good meal in your belly to start the journey and will be less likely to snack throughout the trip
- Try and drink 500mL of water every hour while in the air to stay hydrated (more if you are swayed by the free beer or wine).
- Nuts, vegetable sticks, and homemade snacks such as my savoury muffins or protein balls make great snacks.
- If you don’t have anything prepared and the in-flight food is your only option, don’t fret. Opt for the plainest meal offered and ask for fruit and nuts as snacks.