Bring Your Own Spices When Flying To Counteract Altitude's Effect On Food

After waiting to check your bags in, jetting through the TSA line, and triple-checking that you have your passport or I.D., you would think that being sandwiched between a crying child and a snoring passenger will be as bad as it can get when traveling. Yet, somehow, bland airplane food ends up being the worst part of the journey. To combat this, bring your own spices to enhance your meals.

With how much you pay for tickets, well-seasoned food should at least be included in the travel experience, right? However, the tasteless meals have more to do with science than anything. Higher elevations deplete our sense of smell and taste, driving people to follow different tips when cooking in high altitudes to make up for what's lost. On the plane, those same measures can't be taken.

Airplane meals are mass-produced ahead of time to please a wide variety of passengers. Plus, low air pressure alters how our taste buds interact with food. With flight attendants only having salt and pepper packets on hand, it's up to you to bring spices to flavor your food.

Bring these spices the next time you fly

While it may not taste like it, airlines add extra salt and sugar to meals to overcompensate for the fact that they're harder to taste in the air. On the other hand, sour and bitter flavors are more perceptible at higher altitudes. Pack bitter herbs like thyme, oregano, or bay leaves to give the food some more depth — just make sure they're labeled so TSA doesn't mistake them for something else.

Give airplane fish or chicken a zesty kick by carrying citrus spice blends along. A mixture of various ground citrus peels with herbs is sure to boost any meal that's lacking in flavor. Fragrant, earthy spices like cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and cardamom also tend to do well up in the air. However, you should opt for the ones that don't smell as strong or pungent so you don't offend your fellow passengers.

Although dried spices of any size can be packed, there's a limit for liquid seasonings. Ensure that any bottles of hot sauce or soy sauce in your carry-on luggage are 3.4 fluid ounces or smaller. Keep them in plastic bags to prevent spilling on your items. Not every airline has quality meals, so be prepared with spices the next time you fly.