The Golden Rules of Motherhood: Don't wear a short dress to an indoor play centre. If Dad packed the nappy bag, double-check it. And make a plan of snack attacks when you're packing for a flight...
Every mum knows that a strategic approach to packing plane snacks for kids can make all the difference – you must be armed with a steady variety of munchies to keep the kids occupied and calm at all times. We speak from experience: snacks on a plane can make or break a journey, therefore we always travel with these six core tenets of snack packing in mind…
6 tips on how to pack plane snacks for kids
1. Variety is key
Don’t feel like raisins, my darling? No problem. Bored of pretzels, poppet? Not a bother. Covering your food groups means that you’ll always be able to offer an alternative when the kiddies refuse what you’re offering. We always pack a range of fruit, veggies, dairy, sweet and savoury snacks. Our staples include cheese sticks, Goldfish (the savoury kind, not the actual kind), carrot sticks, grapes, raisins, apple slices, popcorn, frozen orange quarters, rice cakes, sandwich squares, Gingernut biscuits, puffed grain snacks or dry cereal like Cheerios and shed loads of Yumearth goodies. OK, so we know some of the things on that list aren’t 100% healthy, but when it comes to plane travel, our philosophy is that the kids should feel like it’s a little bit special (and we never want kids to be hangry on a long-haul flight).
2. Avoid messy foods
The aeronautical gods dictate that per four hours of travel, a child will need one change of clothes. Whether it’s a poop explosion or a random vomit, it seems unavoidable that the kids will need to change their outfits at least once on a flight. Packing snacks that can’t possibly soil another piece of clothing is a clever move. Say no to yoghurt, dips, crumbly biscuits, sugary drinks or any other potential mess-makers.
3. Minimise sugar
Keep your cool and arrive at your destination with your sanity intact. Keeping kids calm on planes is our main priority (unless you can get them to sleep… winning!) and minimising how much sugar you give them plays a big part. Avoid sugary snacks that are likely to spike their blood sugar and send them crazy. It might be tempting to placate your tantruming toddler with a packet of Skittles, but it will just prep them for a bigger crash later on. We suggest snacks that are low in sugar or are sweetened naturally.
4. Good parenting can wait until you disembark
Yeah, yeah. We all want to be that cool parent who bestows date and coconut bliss balls on our kids as a treat. In reality, surviving a long-haul flight is about taking the path of least resistance. If the kiddies want to eat nothing but Goldfish and rice crackers, let it be so. You can get back on track with healthy eating when you’ve safely landed. Our exception to the sugar rule comes in the form of a carefully concealed emergency sweet (or candy, or lolly, depending on where you’re from). Hide some small treats somewhere in your carry on and wait until the very last moment, when you absolutely need to bring out the big guns (for us, that’s at passport control, the irony of which is that there is literally no control of the kids by this point). We’re big fans of mini lollipops, which give you the added bonus of silence while they happily suck away.
5. A good snack box can make all the difference
Like much of parenthood, flying with kids requires you to be able to do things with one hand. Is there a prouder moment than when you blindly reach into the nappy bag, rummage around with one hand and pull out precisely the object you’re looking for? Snack packing for flights is no exception. Our advice is to find the perfect snack box and fill it with as much variety as you can, so you can hand it over easy peasy (remember: don’t pack the sweets in their snack box – they must be hidden away as a reward/incentive). We’re loving the idea of the #snacklebox that we’ve seen on Instagram recently. Parents are getting crafty and using fishing tackle boxes as snack containers. Is there no limit to how clever us parents can be? A good lunchbox with compartments will also do the trick.
6. Plastic zip bags can also be your best friends
Let’s be very real. As much as we love a cute snack box and reusable packaging, they can be a pain on long-haul flights. Plus, do you really think a sleep deprived mum with a cranky tot wants to wash dirty food containers post-flight? We doubt it. So, if that’s the case, opt for some Ziplock bags. They conveniently come in various sizes and you can’t ever go wrong with these throw-and-go bags. And they might even save your life while flying with kids. Pack snacks in individual portions and hand them out once at a time. After that, hand the flight attendants the empty bags as they go down the aisle. Voila!
And so mums and dads, you’ve now got the inside scoop on what it takes to successfully pack snacks when you’re flying with kids. You’ll never look at a fishing tackle box the same way again. Happy flying!