8 Do’s And Don’ts When Traveling With Food

I am the kind of girl who always has a snack in her purse. I’ll forget my keys, iPhone, and credit card but always have a Ziploc full of pretzels lingering at the bottom of my Longchamp. So maybe it’s not surprising that I’ve held up an entire TSA security line to Aruba because I had a tub of Moroccan hummus in my purse—hey, it isn’t technically a liquid and the small crudité platter in my carry on needed someone to hang out with.

—Kate Lofblad, contributing writer at Baked.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.25.14 AM
Illustration by Ryan Brondolo.

As it turns out, many travelers (myself included) wrongly assume that the TSA’s only food restriction is against liquids. The TSA rule states, “food items brought through security must be either be whole, natural foods (like an orange), or be placed in a container or otherwise wrapped up.” The snack snobs at the airport, however, also consider sauces, jams, and pastes to be liquids—undoubtedly, this confuses things a little. So please, learn from my mistakes: place any items you’re unsure about in checked baggage, ship them in advance, or leave them at home if they are liquids or gels that weigh more than 3.3 ounces. To get you your spring break excursions, we’ve complied a list of what you can and can’t take on the plane.

Do’s

  • Cheese and crackers: A classic combination that will keep you full all the way to Florida.
  • Trail Mix: Packed with protein, a healthy trail mix will curb your appetite during travel and prevent you from overeating once you hit the road.
  • Edamame: Pack frozen and they’ll be thawed by the time you take off. Also, you’re lying if you don’t think popping edamame out of their shells is kind of fun.
  • Avocado sandwich: Avocados are safe to fly with because they’re “contained.” They’re also soft enough that you could easily cut into one with a flimsy plastic knife that is TSA approved. Spread it around on a piece of bread, sprinkle some salt and pepper over top, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, filling sandwich.

Don’ts

  • Salad dressing: You can probably get away with this as long as you pour it over your salad before going through inspection. Just make sure you don’t carry the full bottle.
  • Wine, liquor and beer: You can bring alcohol through TSA if it is less than 3 ounces, however, it is a violation of federal law to consume alcohol on board unless served by a flight attendant.
  • Salsa (and hummus): Now this is a real shame, what are you supposed to eat with your tortilla chips? If you really must stock up on your favorite dips, TSA suggests mailing them home instead of attempting to fly with them.
  • Maple syrup: Unfortunately, in one month, Facebook pictures are all you’ll have to remember your formal trip to Canada. (Oh, and that giant hickey on your neck.)

This story was originally featured in Baked’s Fall 2013 issue. To read more, click here.

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