Travelling on a plane can be a stressful experience. Making sure you are on time for check-in, dealing with luggage restrictions and not to mention the anxiety about actually flying. Sticking to keto on a plane is definitely achievable with a little bit of preparation and flexibility.
If you are travelling by plane when following a ketogenic diet that can add another level of stress. So it can really help to be prepared, especially for long-haul flights. You may be starting to notice a bit of a theme here, when you make keto your new way of life, you have to be prepared to be prepared.
It just takes a little bit of forward planning and you will be able to easily travel whilst still living your keto lifestyle. We have some staples that always come with us when travelling.
Tips for keto on a plane
- Snacks – Packing some of your favourite keto snacks can be a lifesaver when flying. Flying can be stressful at times and you may find yourself looking for something to eat and not finding any keto-friendly options. We would always have some dark chocolate, coconut butter, nuts, pork rinds and Essentially Keto chew the fat bars in our carry on bag for emergencies.
- Tea – We always travel with an assortment of tea bags. We would pack a couple in our carry on luggage in case we want a tea prior to boarding or if we want a different tea than the ones available on the flight. There is also a selection of different teas in a snap lock bag in our checked luggage.
- Coffee – This would depend on whether we are travelling domestically or internationally. Erika is a little precious when it comes to her coffee and we find it difficult to get a takeaway coffee in Australia made with cream. So when we travel domestically, Erika would take some of her cold brew coffee in a tightly sealed jar and purchase some cream at our destination. We also take our Perfect Keto MCT powder so Erika can still make her BPC and Dan can add some to her tea.
- Water bottles – It’s really important to stay hydrated when flying, especially on long haul flights. We always carry our Swell water bottles with us. If we are travelling internationally we would have them empty to go through security and then buy some water in the terminal and fill them up. Our water bottles are insulated and keep the water nice and cold. We have found when travelling internationally we can ask the cabin crew to fill our water bottles up when they come around with water.
Travelling with Liquids
Australian Domestic flights
In Australia there are no restrictions on how much liquid or gel you can carry on board domestic flights. Some airlines do have restrictions around bringing hot beverages on board though. We fly domestically in Australia a lot as our families live interstate. We LOVE that we can take our cold brew coffee and water through security without any problems.
International & US domestic flights
Liquids and gels are limited to 100ml (3.4 oz) bottles which can fit inside a small resealable plastic zip lock bag. When travelling internationally we empty our water bottles and make sure we don’t take any other liquids over 100ml in our carry on. Another tip if you travel a lot is to keep your liquids that you have in your handbag all the time in a zip lock bag. Erika does this and she can just easily grab that bag out and put it in the tray and there is no panic at security about what she has in her handbag.
Purchasing food at the airport
This will be very dependant on the airport and the amount of time you have prior to your flight. Some of the best options to look out for are:
- Mexican – Burrito bowls are available at most fast food Mexican places now, just remember to ask for no beans or rice.
- Pub/Bistro – We have found a few airports now have a pub serving pub food which may include steak and salad, bunless burgers and other salads.
- Kebabs – Most kebab places will make up a kebab on a plate for you (meat and salad). Add cheese and sour cream to increase the fat.
- Nandos and Oporto – Both of these places will do flame grilled chicken and salad. Nandos sauces have much less carbs than Oporto.
- Burger places (McDonalds, Hungry Jacks) – For us these places would be a last resort, but you can always order a burger without the bun, or simply remove the bun. Also watch out for the carbs in any sauces.
When doing a long haul flight you will usually have meals supplied. What is on offer is heavily dependant on your class of travel and the airline you are flying with. When you book your flight you will have an option to choose a speciality menu.
Most airlines will have a variety of options including vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, diabetic, Hindu, Kosher and Halal. Some keto people will choose the gluten free or diabetic option. Our advice would be to just receive the normal menu. The problem with the speciality menus is you get no choice and given that there is yet to be a low carb option on the speciality menu, all the other options still present some issues.
What do we do when flying on long haul flights?
- As mentioned we would order from the main menu. We have usually been able to find an option that we can make keto-friendly.
- Breakfast would usually have an option of egg, sausage and/or bacon. We would choose this option and not eat any bread or ask them to not give us the pastry. Also, we would skip the offering of yoghurt (usually sweetened).
- For the dinner option we would usually choose the chicken, beef or pork option and just not eat any of the starchy vegetables/pasta/rice. Again, we would ask that they don’t give us the dessert. If we feel like something sweet after dinner we always have some dark chocolate in the carry on and we would just have some of that.
- We would use the butter you get for the bread/pastry to increase the fat. Add that butter to your eggs and meat to add some fat and usually some flavour.
- We try to eat a big keto meal before we go. If we are flying out early we would order a big keto breakfast at the airport prior to boarding. If our flight is a late night flight, we would have a big satisfying dinner at home before we leave to keep us full for as long as possible. Also, if the food on board is not ideal and we need to avoid items it is not such a big deal.
Another popular option within the keto community is to just not eat at all. Whilst this works for some people it won’t work for others. Travelling can be stressful and attempting to fast during this time can lead to failure and bad choices.
Our suggestion if you were planning on fasting during your flight would be to have a back up plan. If things don’t go smoothly, if you get delayed, what are you going to do? Take some of your keto friendly snacks as a back up plan.
If you are planning on fasting it’s going to be extremely important to get your electrolytes right. We are not experts on electrolytes so check this out for more information. Make sure you stay well hydrated as well. Flying under a pressurised cabin can make you dehydrated, so increase your fluid intake.
Quarantine laws are going to vary greatly depending on where you are travelling to. Even domestic travel in Australia has quarantine laws around bringing fresh food between states. If you are planning on taking fresh food onto the flight with you, either consume it all on the flight or make your self aware of the quarantine laws at your destination.
We have seen families having to throw out a lot of food that they took with them to consume on board. Just be aware of these laws when travelling. It will make your life easier and possibly save you wasting money and food.
When flying we do our keto best. We use the above tips and advice to stay as keto as we can, but we also don’t sweat the small stuff. Travelling with Dan is already stressful enough (did I mention worrywart?), so if a sauce on an inflight meal has some carbs, we don’t let it worry us and we just move on.
Have you done keto on a plane? What do you do to stay in ketosis when travelling? What are your favourite go to meals when flying? Let us know in the comments.
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