My In-Flight Asian Brown Bag
Unless you are lucky enough to be traveling in first or business class, you’ll probably find most in-flight meals and snacks are not very appetizing. On some long haul US domestic flights no meal at all is provided. In that case, you need to bring your own food or make a purchase before you board.
On one of our trips returning from a vacation in Paris, after feasting on fabulous French baguettes and meals for a whole week, the flight attendant served us what tasted like day-old plastic-wrapped buns and reheated pasta. That meal made me feel like I had fallen straight from heaven to hell since the plane took off. Wait a minute–does Hell have a higher elevation than Heaven?
Luckily, we brought leftover apples and grapes from our holiday rental apartment. We did our best to tide ourselves over with the fruits and granola bars together with snacks from the galley until the transit at Philadelphia airport. We finally refueled with a proper hot meal at the Philly airport food court. Philly cheese steak to the rescue!
Usually we are better organized on the outbound journey. Here are some staples in our in-flight brown bag:
- Washed and towel dried fresh grapes or orange segments in a disposable container. I normally prepare them a day ahead and keep them refrigerated.
- Granola bars
- A small Ziploc bag of dried fruits and nuts (trail mix) when outbound from the USA
- A small Ziploc bag of dried local fruits like mango, pineapple and ginger when leaving from Asia
- Single serve packets of Japanese snacks like mini-shrimp chips or seaweed rice crackers. Small bite sized portions, so you don’t get crumbs everywhere.
- Bite-sized pork or beef jerky from Malaysia, Singapore or Taiwan, or Golden Island pork or beef jerky available in the USA. Bring only a small quantity since the destination country may restrict importing meat products. You need to consume all of it before arrival, or discard the leftovers.
- Instant noodle bowls. Most flight attendants are very obliging in providing hot water for your noodle bowls or you can serve yourself in the galley. Passengers enjoying their own hot noodle snacks in a cold cabin is a common sight on Asian routes.
Last but not least, to maintain good hygiene, I also throw these into our brown bag:
- Hand wipes or wet tissues
- Paper napkins
- Plastic cutlery and disposable chopsticks
If you are not familiar with these food products, they are easily available in most Asian supermarkets and at Trader Joe’s markets in the USA.
In addition, many Asian international airports have specialty snack outlets, either before or after security checkpoint, where you can purchase snacks.
- AJI ICHIBAN has many outlets in Hong Kong city and at the airport.
- At Changi airport, you can find AJI ICHIBAN, Cold Storage and NTUC Fairprice shops in the various terminals.
If you are traveling with parents or older relatives, many of them may prefer Asian meals or familiar snacks versus western-style airline food. It is even more important if you have hired a travel companion to assist your parents. A little bit of extra preparation before a long unfamiliar journey will make your travel less stressful and may help increase senior travelers’ desire to visit more often in the future!