Summertime! Like the song says, “Lazy, hazy, crazy days”, and some of the busiest times for traveling other than Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Traveling can be a bit hectic at best, and very stressful at it’s worst. Especially if you are traveling, and you, or someone you love, need to be on a gluten-free diet. What do you do? How can you follow a gluten-free diet while traveling? It’s hard enough when you’re trying to follow a gluten-free diet at home, let alone on the road, and forget about flying!
Well I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little planning and some preparation, traveling, of any type, can be a breeze. You just need to be armed with some strategies for avoiding gluten.
First of all, let’s talk about where gluten can be hiding. Gluten can be hiding in sauces, drinks, additives, dressings, condiments, and rubs. The main culprits of gluten are the obvious ones, wheat, barley, rye and most oats. You also need to keep in mind cross-contamination. I go into more detail about that in this blog post.
Following are some tips for keeping your trip gluten free, and you out of the bathroom.
- Shop for and prepare food ahead of time
Shop at home at your usual grocery store, where you are used to buying your gluten-free food items and know where they are at. This way, you won’t spend the first hours of your vacation shopping for food in an unfamiliar store where you don’t know where or IF, they have what you want. Pack these items for your trip, and be sure you have extras in case you experience trip delays or extra hungry moments.
I like to make homemade granola bars and wrap them individually. If my husband and I are traveling by car, I put the individually wrapped bars into a plastic container with a resealable lid. That way we can keep them on the back seat and grab a healthy snack when we’re hungry without having to stop.
Another thing I like to do if we are traveling by car, is prepare small meals and freeze them for traveling, that way, when we get to our motel room, we don’t have to worry about finding a suitable, gluten-free restaurant in a strange town when we are travel weary and starving. We have a ready-to-eat gluten-free meal, ready to pop in the microwave. (Most motels have microwaves in them now.) These little frozen meals can also double as ice packs in the cooler, along with other ice packs. 😉 Just make sure you also pack a suitable microwave safe container. I love my corning ware casserole dishes.
If I’m flying, I’m usually flying alone, so I pack my granola bars in a Ziploc bag and put a few of them in my personal item, which is usually a backpack, and the rest in a plastic container in my suitcase or carry-on.Just remember if you are traveling by air, any condiments such as dipping sauces, must be in clear containers with a 3 ounce maximum, in a 1 quart ziplock bag. The Transportation Safety Administration’s website indicates food must be wrapped or in containers that can pass through the X-ray machines.
2. Ask for Information
Sites like Trip Advisor can offer you a starting point for information that you are looking for. Such as getting recommendations for appropriate restaurants, nearby grocery stores that sell gluten-free items, as well as hotels that offer kitchenettes, fridges, and microwaves. You may want to think about packing your own toaster though, or make sure to bring special bags to protect your food items that are being toasted or microwaved. I bought these ones for my trip to Kansas.
3. Forewarn family members or friends
If your vacation involves visiting family or friends, be sure to provide them advance warning of your dietary requirements. You may even want to send them information on your condition, and the reasons why you need to avoid gluten. This can help prevent awkward moments when you arrive, allowing that person you are visiting to ensure that he/she has taken proper precautions before and during your visit.
So you see, there’s no reason to shy away from traveling if you plan ahead, and do some preparation.
Have fun and happy travels!