Bring your own Bento for Travel

Bento-ing from: Portland › Oregon › USA
Joined: 10 Feb 2009
User offline. Last seen 9 years 41 weeks ago.

I will be flying out of Portland to Texas, each leg of the trip will be 2.25 hours long. I took a look at Frontier's BOB options and nearly gaged. I planing to bring a bento with me for lunch. What considerations in food prepand choice and making it through the TSA check point. What the best way to keep the bento cold.

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Bento-ing from: Dunedin › New Zealand
Joined: 12 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 5 years 37 weeks ago.
Re: Bring your own Bento for Travel

Goodness, that's tricky.

Number one point would probably be make sure whatever is in it is easily recognisable as food by the TSA staff. Sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, vegetables that still look like themselves, meatballs. I suppose they'd recognise rice? Slices of meatloaf. Salad stuff, so long as your container of dressing is small! Any container of dressing or sauce you'll have to do the clear plastic bag thing with I suppose. I'd be careful about anything wet, like meatballs with sauce already on them or salad with dressing on it like potato salad or whatever. They'd probably count the volume of the whole lunch as liquid. They consider lipstick to be a "gel or liquid" so goodness knows what they'd think about pre-sauced food.

Number two point is easy; you don't need to keep your bento cold, most recipes are intended to be stored (for a morning or so) and eaten at room temperature.



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Re: Bring your own Bento for Travel

That's excellent advice, Bronwyn, I hadn't thought of sauces on meatballs potentially being a problem!

Richardb, you might also want to consider staying away from nuts (even though they make great snacks) and other foods that cause really severe allergic reactions, just in case. Up to you though. Happy traveling!

Re: Bring your own Bento for Travel

Here's the link to a blog post I once read about taking bentos on flights. Read the comments too--there are a lot of extra tips there.

Hope it helps!

Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 3 weeks 2 days ago.
Re: Bring your own Bento for Travel

When I am packing a bento for a road trip, whether it’s by air, car or train, there is one rule I follow: The containers have to be disposable. I like to travel as light as possible, and lugging around an empty bento box can be very tedious if it’s over a course of some days. I also avoid food that needs utensils. (Of course if you can think of another use for that bento box during your trip, it might make sense to use it, so YMMV.)

One thing you have to avoid these days is carrying around any liquid in containers that hold more than 100ml (that’s a bit less than 1/2 cup) of liquid. Actually, avoiding liquid of any kind is a good idea. You will have to buy your beverages on board. (This silly restriction on liquids is supposed to be changed soon. It couldn’t come soon enough!)

I have never had my food checked by security (it’s just gone through the X-ray machine with no comment) but in case it is, you want it in a state where you can show it easily for minimum hassle. So for instance, use plastic wrap instead of aluminum foil to wrap your onigiri, use containers with clear lids, etc. Don’t bring metal utensils with you, especially knives.

A 2 hour flight is not that much time, so I’d pack small snacks or bento. Onigiri (rice balls) are compact and filling. Small, tasty sandwiches. Fruit is good unless you are crossing borders (which you aren’t) - usually, if you have raw fruit you will have to throw it away or give it to the customs officers when entering some countries. (Well especially the U.S. - which has the most obstrusive, restrictive border checks that I’ve experienced, even for citizens.) I would tend to avoid unpeeled hard boiled eggs, since peeling them in the confines of an airline seat, with the possiblity of shell bits getting all over the place, can be a bother. Soy sauce eggs are a possibility.

I’ve seen a lot of people carrying in whole (individual portion) pizzas in their boxes, bags of McDonald’s etc. on recent flights, so that’s an option if you forget to pack anything! (A recent flight out of LAX was almost unbearable due to the smell of french fries.)


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Bento-ing from: Berlin › Germany
Joined: 6 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 8 years 6 weeks ago.
Re: Bring your own Bento for Travel

I once saw somthing about the meals you can get on some of the longer routes. They use more spices as they taste less intensiv in great hight. Mabe you should take this in account when making your bento.


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Bento-ing from: Leicester › UK
Joined: 9 Jun 2008
User offline. Last seen 7 years 32 weeks ago.
Re: Bring your own Bento for Travel

Try to avoid eggs, garlic, and peanut butter, as some pepole really object to those smells and any smell stick around in the plane for ages making you very unpopular.

Make sure to completley de-weponise your lunch. No cutlery, nothing liquidy, no skewers, nothing that could be possibly imagined to be dangerous even in the absolout worst case scenario. Also remember some things with lots of air in may do weird things like inflate by the slight change in pressure.

Re: Bring your own Bento for Travel

I actually miss the bratwurst & sauerkraut I had at a bar in PDX! Anyway, I think the best bento for flights is either a simple sandwich or onigiri. I especially like pickled plum and shiso in onigiri to ease motion sickness.

Re: Bring your own Bento for Travel

Thank you for this posting. I am going to be travelling soon and was looking for more information on what could be taken on a trip that crossed the Can/US border. At this point in time it looks like both sides of the border are no longer worried about the dangers of some utensils and allow knitting needles, which are somewhat similar in shape to chopsticks in nice bento boxes. The only prevailing rule is the 3-1-1 rule for liquids. In my case, I am hoping that having foods that are completely solid and without sauce will satisfy the TSA/ CATSA (Canadian customs) agents. The travel sites for TSA and CATSA both have a section with a rough guide on what types of food are considered solids, liquids, and what must be declared or has special instructions attached to having that food in an airport. Thank you again for your posts on this, they have made me more confident that packing a lunch on a cross-border trip will work.

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