Five Tips for Gluten Free Travel

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Traveling, eating out, and a gluten free or Paleo lifestyle don’t always add up to a great equation.  With a little prep work, though, you can do some “smooth sailing” to your destination, and fully enjoy it when you get there!

Here are five quick tips to ensure your travel brings joy and relaxation.

Five Tips for the Gluten Free or Paleo Traveler

1.  Choose the location wisely

Maybe you’re headed to Aunt Betsy’s, or perhaps an all-inclusive treat is in store for your vacation.  If you have a choice in where you’ll be staying, look at hotels that offer a kitchen, or at least a refrigerator and microwave.  Typically, these are considered “extended stay” hotels, but usually you can stay just one night if needed. 

Homewood Kitchen

Homewood Kitchen

My personal favorite is the Homewood Suites by Hilton, because they feature full-sized kitchens (complete with stove, microwave, and refrigerator; do NOT plan to use the pans that are provided, though).  Some even offer grocery delivery service, which can be very helpful when arriving after a long trip.  

Going all out for an all-inclusive?  Be sure to call ahead and inform the person in charge of meal preparation that you have food allergies or an intolerance, so you can consult with them regarding your needs.  If you’re headed to Aunt Betsy’s, be sure she (and her family) is aware of your gluten free lifestyle, and move ahead to tip two.  

2.  Arrange ahead or bring these basics

Baby pan

Baby Pan

  • At least one small pan (baby pans as pictured work well for travel)
  • Cooking Utensils
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife (pack ONLY in checked luggage!)
  • Cookbook (if necessary)
  • Art paper, newspaper, or parchment paper (to cover surfaces where you will be prepping meals)
  • Any cooking items that might be difficult to find at your destination

3.  Prepare non-perishable snacks

No matter the plan, there will be times you may find that you are hungry off of schedule, or experience a layover or traffic jam.  Having a small bag packed with these types of snacks will serve as a safety net against extreme hunger and guard against the temptation of airport or rest-stop vending machines.

  • Raw almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or mixed raw nuts in bags or snap tight containers
  • Larabars (Flavor examples:  Apple pie, Cashew Cookie, Peanut Butter Cookie (not Paleo), Carrot Cake, Key Lime; avoid the ones with chocolate that could melt)
  • Pure fruit strips
  • Dried fruits and vegetables
  • Home made potato (or sweet potato) chips cooked in olive oil
  • Simple beef jerky (cut up steak, dry in the oven overnight)

4.  Prepare for perishables

Whether you’ll be traveling with perishable snacks, buying groceries, stopping at a local farmer’s market, or just taking cold water to the beach, it’s likely you will need a cooler.  There are several great products to consider, depending on the type of traveling you’ll be doing.

Soft sided cooler with ice cubes


Consider a soft sided, ice (self-contained) cooler like this one that fully flattens in the freezer (available online at Target).  Insulated bags are flexible for traveling with hot or cold items (but be careful with anything that may leak since the bags aren’t air-tight sealed).  Forgot your cooler?  Make ice packs with ziploc bags and place your items in doubled plastic grocery bags or reusable bags (good for very short term travel only).

5.  When in doubt, leave it out

Since it’s vacation, you may be tempted to let loose and eat whatever comes your way.  It may be likely you’ll eat out along the way, or once you’ve arrived at your destination.  As you may already know, even one exposure to gluten or a gluten source can mean anything from a miserable or painful day, or the exposure coule ignite your immune system, undoing months of the healing process.  If you find yourself tempted, pull out a prepared snack.  If the restaurant you found on the beach doesn’t know what gluten is – politely decline while the rest of your party orders, or move on to the next place (the best plan is to call ahead to avoid this scenario).  

In case of accidental exposure to gluten, you might consider carrying some activated charcoal.  This is an over-the-counter product, which I’ve seen mentioned as a way to lessen the effects of the exposure.  It is available at most drugstores, found with the vitamins and supplements.

A little preparation and planning can go a long way to help you enjoy every moment.  Once you’re packed and prepared, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Do you have any other tips that have helped you stay gluten free or Paleo while traveling?  Share them in the comments!

~GGF Gourmet

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