9 Top Gluten Free Travel Tips

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Traveling with celiac, food allergies or dietary restrictions can be a real pain (let’s be honest), but with these 9 Top Gluten Free Travel Tips, your next trip will be a breeze and you won’t go hungry!

In fact, I apply these gluten free travel tips to my everyday life in so many ways.

Top 9 Gluten Free Travel Tips from gluten free expert gfJules

I’m never without a gluten free bar or protein shake, for instance. There’s just no reason not to carry one in the car or your purse or briefcase for when a meeting goes late, you get stuck in traffic, emergency carpool duty calls ….

There are a million reasons not to go hangry, and why being prepared will mean you a) won’t cheat by peeling the cheese off your kids’ regular pizza b) won’t hit a drive-through for unsafe fries c) won’t bite someone’s head off because you didn’t do a) or b) because you forgot to pack a gluten free bar.

So for longer trips, just follow the same rules, but pack more!

A Note about Flying Gluten Free

As for plane travel, I’m always surprised when I hear folks didn’t know they could take their own gluten free food onto an airplane.

Since food is not a liquid, TSA shouldn’t give you any troubles carrying your own gluten free food onto the plane. They even tout the fact that you can carry on your own tacos! 😉

tsa tacos

Homemade gluten free muffins are always in my bag, but I’ve also been known to carry on leftover gluten free Pad Thai.

Seriously! So good.

gluten free blueberry muffins
Homemade muffins make any trip yummier!

 

I often bring homemade gluten free bread on board for sandwiches or just so I have some at my destination. While I have had TSA agents inspect my bread machines with intense scrutiny, they have never stopped me for gluten free bread (and no, I wouldn’t have shared).

I also travel with gluten free flour and baking mixes if I’m going to be anywhere where I can bake. I’m usually stopped for it in my carry-on bags at TSA, but once they see what it is, I get through with no problems. It’s nice to have safe mixes, especially, when I’m traveling, so I can have yummy food where ever I go.

gfjules at tsa | gfjules 

See my list below for even more creative portable gluten free travel foods. (Note: for international travel, always check with TSA first since some countries limit things like fresh fruits and vegetables crossing the border.)

Check this resource for airline-specific information regarding food allergens and pre-boarding allowances.

where possible, pack your own gluten free foods for international plane travel | gfJules

Eating airline meals is not recommended unless they are pre-packaged, since only pre-packaged foods are governed by the FDA requirements requiring accurate food labeling. Whether by plane, train, or automobile, it’s always wise to pack your own gluten free food.

Follow these 9 easy, tasty gluten free travel tips so your next trip is safe and you won’t go hungry!

9 Gluten Free Travel Tips Everyone Needs to Know

1. Don’t Leave Home without Gluten Free Bars

 

One of my favorite go-to gluten free foods for traveling is protein or granola bars. Portable, easy snack food that at the very least will take the edge off your hunger. It just makes good sense to have some of these in your bag at all times, especially for travel. (*note: be sensitive to others around you and don’t eat nuts on a flight.)

Packing Gluten Free Snacks for Airline Travel

Did you know that most granola bars are not actually gluten free? They’re made with conventional oats which are cross-contaminated with gluten grains, so it’s important to make sure the bars you choose are truly gluten free (here are some options).

One better, buy bars that are certified gluten free by independent agencies or make your own homemade gluten free granola bars with purity protocol, certified gluten free oats and your favorite granola bar flavors!

gluten free granola bars - kid-friendly, vegan, portable and delicious nutrition! Ready in under 1 hour! gfJules

As of now, Bobo’s Oat Bars, Enjoy Life Foods Chewy BarsThe GFBar (made with purity protocol oats), Epic, Health Warrior, NuGo, and Thunderbird are among those with independent Gluten Free certifications.*

2. OR Don’t Leave Home without a Gluten Free Protein Drink

Either 1. or 2. Or both. You NEED to have something portable and nutritious with you at all times. Of course, you can’t take liquids on planes, so definitely see #1 if you’re boarding a plane!

Whip up a protein shake at home or grab a ready to drink protein shake like those from OWYN (Only What You Need)**. Besides all the incredible nutrition packed into each of these shakes (20 grams of protein; vegetables like organic kale, broccoli and spinach, Omega 3s, fiber), they’re also soy-free and dairy-free, non-GMO and free of the Top 9 food allergens, so nearly anyone can have one.

OWYN in bag gfJules

Oh, and they’re so good my daughter ASKS for them in her lunch, and I don’t mind drinking them at room temperature (they don’t have to be refrigerated until open), which means they’re PERFECT for travel or for getting me through a day. Any day. Every day.

BONUS: OWYN even makes a coffee version of their shake, so it’s got 113 mg of organic caffeine packed inside too — approximately the equivalent of one cup of coffee. (Note: I do NOT give these to my daughter.) 🙂

3. Pack a Bag of Gluten Free Trail Mix or Gluten Free Granola

Homemade gluten free trail mix is another great thing to bring along for those times when you can’t find fresh fruit or gluten free munchies. Gluten free pretzels mixed with seeds or your favorite nuts, plus some raisins or dried fruit like cranberries, and you’re done! Add in the proportions you prefer and it’ll be perfect for you (which is all that matters!).

gluten free apple butter granola - gfJules

Gluten free granola is another easy treat to pack in a bag to carry with you. Most store-bought granola is NOT made with purity protocol oats, so either do your homework or make your own.

Pour it on top of yogurt or eat it right out of the bag. It’s easy to make your own to suit your tastes and dietary restrictions – here’s my favorite homemade gluten free granola recipe. And if you can’t tolerate even purity protocol oats, here’s my recipe for oat-free granola: gluten free Quinola!

gluten free quinola banner
Homemade gluten free Quinola! Nut-free, oat-free, allergen-free! Great for snacking and for travel!

4. Bake Homemade Gluten Free Muffins

Have I mentioned homemade gluten free muffins enough times yet? I think “gluten free travel muffins” are so key I dedicated an entire travel point to them!

When I’m taking a longer trip, I always bake a batch of my go-to gluten free muffins, we affectionately refer to this recipe as gluten free “travel muffins” since they stand up to the rigors of travel so well and stay fresh for at least 5 days!

gluten free blueberry muffins
Homemade muffins make any trip yummier!

With or without blueberries or other fruit additions, these muffins are fantastic for breakfast, snack, lunch or really anytime to stave off hunger pangs. Plus, they’re not “liquids,” so you can carry them onto any flight!

gluten free muffin on plane

Airplane snacks are mostly mixes with gluten now anyway — that’s a no-go! And even “gluten free” meals on flights are suspect.

Only the pre-packaged portions of those meals are subject to FDA labeling rules, so they are not to be trusted — many aren’t even labeled. For anyone with celiac or food allergies, unfortunately, gluten free airline meals are not to be trusted.

jules with airplane snacks
Most snack mixes on airplanes contain gluten — even peanut packs sometimes do! Always check the labels!
 

I pack homemade gluten free muffins in Tupperware-type containers or zip-top bags to keep them fresh, and they stay moist and yummy for days, unlike most gluten-free baked goods.

No need to microwave or toast if your gluten free travel muffins are made with my gfJules Flour or gfJules Gluten Free Muffin Mix!

homemade muffins on plane
My carry-on always has gluten free travel muffins, plus bars for my family so no one goes hungry!

5. Pack a Gluten Free Bread Machine

Whether you’re going to your aunt Betsy’s house and traveling by car or hopping a flight across country, bringing your own gluten-free bread machine is always a great idea!

It’s like bringing your trusty oven, bread pan and kitchen to someone else’s house (or hotel room) and never having to worry about cross-contamination!

gluten free beer bread in bread machine
Gluten free bread machine with gfJules Bread Mix.

I’ve baked more than my share of gluten free bread loaves in strange places just because I had my own bread machine. If you bring along a couple of your favorite gluten free bread mixes, it makes it even easier, since all you’ll have to do is add the liquids! 

Baking your own fresh gluten free bread in a bread machine couldn’t be easier — whether at home or elsewhere — so why not travel with one?

6. BYOO (Bring Your Own Oats)

Bring your own certified gluten free purity protocol oats, so all you need is a cup, spoon and boiling water to have a healthy meal. Meaning, you can enjoy your gluten free oats in a hotel room, airport or even on a plane.

While most airports will offer the opportunity to grab a cup of boiling water (into which you can stir your instant gluten free oats), traveling with a portable, collapsable kettle is a great way to ensure you can always make your own oats.

collapsable kettle
This collapsable travel kettle has dual voltage, making it usable all over the world.

I never leave home without some in a bag for just this purpose! Just make sure your oats are both certified gluten free and either instant or specifically prepared such that they can be made with just boiling water, otherwise you’ll need a stovetop or microwave to cook them properly.

Check out my shop for the purity protocol gluten free oats I use.

gluten-free-overnight-oats
Gluten Free Overnight Oats ready to enjoy and portable!

Another great option is to make gluten free overnight oats and bring the jar with you. They can be enjoyed out of the refrigerator for the day, so they’re perfect for all kinds of travel except for planes, as they’ll likely be considered “liquids.”

7. Gluten Free Apps Are Your Friend

There are some great apps out where you can search for dedicated gluten free restaurants near you, search for restaurants that are certified through Allercheck / Menutrinfo, or others where fellow gluten free eaters have had good experiences.

The most trusted app I know is the GlutenDude App. All restaurants are thoroughly vetted by GlutenDude himself (a celiac) and each restaurant is divided by either dedicated gluten free or risk of cross-contamination. A crowd-sourced app option is FindMeGlutenFree.

Gluten Free Near Me in Paris - google maps

I also find that using Google Maps is helpful for locating nearby dining options. This tool is especially useful when traveling internationally. Simply open Google Maps and type in “gluten free restaurant near me”. Then read the reviews and options provided from there to choose the one you prefer. Check out how to use this tool and how useful it was on my gluten free trip to Paris.

8. Pocket Your Lunch

Don’t underestimate the power of the pocket! These homemade gluten free calzones can be stuffed with anything you like, and enjoyed hot or cold because the crust is so darned good! Hand-held food is perfect for travel – even if you’re in the driver’s seat!

gluten free calzone in car
Gluten free calzones are the hand-held meal that even the driver can enjoy on a long car ride!

Homemade gluten free Empanadas are another great “pocket” travel food.

gluten free empanadas with bite

Heck, homemade gluten free bagels are just as handy!

gluten free bagel sandwich

Another great breakfast treat is homemade gluten free Danish. I’ve made these and frozen them, grabbing the bag with frozen Danish inside and eaten them hours later on a train.

They’re still cool, but not frozen, and they are oh-so-yummy! Other passengers were definitely jealous!

gluten free danish on train
Homemade gluten free danish enjoyed on an early morning train ride … straight from my freezer! YUM!

9. Fruit is Nature’s Gluten Free Snack

All natural, comes with its own packaging, and is naturally gluten free. Checks off all the boxes, don’t you think?

pack fruit for gluten free travel

When I travel with bananas, I love using a gluten free banana case to keep the bananas from getting bruised. So handy.

banana case

Ok, I told you 9 Tips, but no article on traveling gluten free would be complete without lots of information on how to eat out while traveling. So … 

10. Dining Out Gluten Free When Traveling

So you’ve exhausted your travel provisions or you’re taking a longer trip or have business meetings or just need to eat out with travel companions. It’s ok. Take a deep breath. You can eat gluten free at many restaurants while traveling … with the right planning.

More helpful tips when dining out gluten free at restaurants:

  • call ahead during non-busy hours and ask to speak to a manager or chef about safe options for your dietary restrictions and how to order at that restaurant for a safe meal;
  • avoid fast food and cafeterias;
  • bring your own crackers or tortilla chips to a Mexican restaurant and order a separate bowl of salsa and guacamole — order fajitas with corn tortillas and you’ll be avoiding most of the gluten risk (ask about seasonings, especially in the rice, though!);
  • ask that your chicken, steak, fish or shrimp be grilled separately on aluminum foil;
  • avoid all fried food;
  • only order balsamic vinegar and oil as salad dressing and make sure there are NO croutons;
  • go for sushi! But strictly avoid tempura flakes, soy sauce (unless it’s definitely gluten free tamari), fake crab/krab (most California rolls), roe, and any rice made with malt vinegar.

>>Check out my Top 8 Tips for Dining Out Gluten Free At Restaurants

>>>Also see these Tips on Shopping for Safe Gluten Free Foods

>>>Looking for an all inclusive resort that caters to gluten-free travelers? Here are 7 that come highly recommended!

What gluten free travel tips and foods do you rely on most? Please share in the comments below! Only by learning from each other can we all be safer and travel happier!

Top 9 Gluten Free Travel Tips

9 Top gluten free travel tips from baking to packing to carrying on and eating out ... how to do it safely when you're gluten free.
*Note – some links to products are here for your convenience and some may be affiliate links. Any monies earned go to fund this blog and my free recipes. I will never recommend a product that I don’t love and feel is safe. Check here for my full disclosure policy.
**I’ve partnered with OWYN (Only What You Need) and use their products every day in our household. As always, all opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy for more information. Working with select brands I love allows me to keep bringing you free recipes, and I hope that in the process, you’ll learn about some of the safe gluten free products I choose for my family. Thanks so much for your support!
 
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Gluten Free Travel Tips
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Gluten Free Travel Tips
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Whether by plane, train, or automobile, it’s always wise to pack your own gluten free food. Follow these 9 Top Gluten Free Travel Tips so your next trip is safe and you won't go hungry!
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  1. If I am traveling by air, I always pack a frozen sandwich, Babybel cheese, crackers, Kind Bar, GF jerky, nuts, candy, oatmeal, tea and hot chocolate muffins and Schar Deli Rye bread.

    I pack more GF foods in my luggage depending on where I am going. I have never been hungry on the road. If I am traveling by car I have a cooler full of fresh foods. You can’t always bring fresh fruits on your flights depending on your destination.

    Reply
  2. I often pack snack bags with GF cereal- easy to add milk and fresh fruit- even a plastic bowl and spoon- depending where you will be. A sandwich can be made and frozen the night before (no mayo- it will break apart). The sandwich will thaw in a few hours, add individual mayo packs to your bag and add to sandwich. A quart sized bag filled with frozen peas or beans can chill your food and will easily go through TSA checks at security. Also won’t leak when the beans thaw. Individual wrapped pieces of cheese (many choices in the grocery store), Gf pretzels and crackers, sliced small salami (sopressata), nuts, favorite candies. Always bring a few GF bars.

    I know that Philadelphia Airport, for example, has a Legal Seafood with a dedicated fryer and many GF offerings. But flight delays may mean you can’t always eat there- so always travel with a planB. You do not have to be a recluse with Celiac- may not be gourmet, but you will not starve.

    Reply
  3. In other words, just pack all your own food when you travel gluten free. That’s what this article is saying to me more or less. Europe, so I’ve heard, is SUPPOSE to be far more advanced in the gluten free world than the United States is at this point. I would hope that would be true.

    Reply
    • Well, packing your own food is great for 3 reasons: you’re safe; it’s cheaper; and it tastes better! Many parts of Europe are wonderful about safe GF food, and we’ll all rejoice when that’s universal, but it won’t change the fact that packing your own delicious GF food is still a great plan!
      ~jules

      Reply
    • I have been to Italy 3 times. I order a GF meal from the airline 48 hours before departure. Because stuff happens, I bring a Plan B. Also bring enough food for the first day, and GF cereal in plastic bags. Yogurt and GF pastries are usually available in the hotel. Little grocery stores are tucked into the towns- fresh fruit, deli meats, snacks, GF treats and the Farmacia (Italian pharmacy- green neon cross over the door) have Schar products. Mention “senza glutein” and they will gladly help you.

      In Rome, in Campo di Fiori is a wonderful restaurant- ALL GF!!

      I cannot comment on other countries in Europe, but Italy is wonderful!

      Reply
      • Wonderful tips, Claire! Thanks so much for sharing!!! Makes me want to travel to Europe (not that I needed much encouragement – LOL!).
        ~jules

        Reply

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