5 Solutions to Common Questions About Traveling with Food

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

This week many of us will be traveling to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with friends or family, some by plane and others by car, and most of us will have food in hand as we make our way to dinner. Traveling with food has its own set of challenges, which brings up many questions that need answering. Here are five solutions to common questions about traveling with food.

Traveling with Food by Airplane

What can I pack to eat on the plane?

Fighting hunger on a five-hour plane ride is not the best way to start your vacation. Most airports have food and snacks available for purchase past the security gate, but be prepared to pay a premium for prepackaged food. Instead pack individually packed snacks, like granola bars or sandwiches.

TSA still restricts gels and liquids over three ounces, so be mindful of packing foods like peanut butter or hummus in large volumes. For kids, those fruit and vegetable pouches are a great option and can be frozen before flying to keep them cold.

Can I carry on a pie or wine?

Pie, yes; wine, no. Check TSA website for specific guidelines, but wine and other liquids like olive oil and hot sauce should be packed in your checked luggage. Pies and cakes can be carried on, but it’s best to package them in an easy-to-open container rather than tightly wrapped.

Can I pack my knives/thermometer/turkey baster for flying?

I’m flying to Seattle to cook Thanksgiving for my family, and my probe thermometer and chef’s knife are coming with me. Knives can fly on checked baggage only. Use a knife guard and wrap knives in a clean kitchen towel (or a knife roll, if you have it) to ensure they don’t do any damage to your luggage.

Traveling with Food by Train or Automobile

What do I bring to a dinner three hours away?

If you’re traveling over the river and through the woods to Aunt Luella’s for Thanksgiving dinner, bring a side dish that can be stored at room temperature and served at room temperature. Rolls, slaw, or cranberry sauce are the way to go for longer rides. Pies, cakes, and wine also travel well. If your insist on bringing something that needs to be temperature controlled, invest in a small cooler.

How do I pack my casserole for transporting?

Speaking as someone who accidentally spilled a holiday ham all over the trunk of her car, there’s nothing worse than spilling holiday food in the car. To ensure that your dinner contribution doesn’t end up on the floor, secure the casserole dish or crock pot in a crate or cooler. Wrap warm dishes in towels to prevent leaks and help insulate them.