9 Top Gluten Free Travel Tips
Traveling with celiac, food allergies or dietary restrictions can be a real pain (let’s be honest), but with these 9 easy, tasty 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.
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 why you don’t want to go hangry and why being prepared will mean you a) won’t cheat by peeling the cheese off your kids’ 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 protein drink.
So for longer trips, just follow the same rules, but pack more!
Gluten Free Flying
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. 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.
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).
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.
Whether by plane, train, or automobile, it’s always wise to pack your own gluten free food. Follow these 8 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. Most granola bars are not actually gluten free (made with contaminated oats), 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!
As of now, NoGii, Bobo’s Oat Bars, Enjoy Life Foods Chewy Bars, The GFBar, Bakery on Main, Epic, Health Warrior, Pure Bar, NuGo, No Nuttin, Qi’a, ThinkThin, Thunderbird are among those with independent Gluten Free certifications.*
For a cheaper and arguably more tasty option, make your own gluten free granola bars! Check my gluten free Granola Bars recipe for ingredients and instructions.
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.
My favorite ready to drink protein shake is from OWYN (Only What You Need)**. Besides all the incredible nutrition packed into each shake (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 8 food allergens, so nearly anyone can have one.
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.) 🙂
Give me one good reason not to have one of these with you at all times.
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 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: Quinola!
4. Bake Homemade Gluten Free Muffins
Have I mentioned homemade gluten free muffins enough times yet? When I’m taking a longer trip, I always bake a batch of my go-to gluten free muffins. With or without blueberries or other fruit additions, these muffins are fantastic for breakfast, snack, lunch or really anytime to stave off hunger pangs.
They beat airplane peanuts any day, and sometimes airplane peanuts contain gluten, so always read those 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!
5. Gluten Free Danish: The Handheld Pastry that Makes Any Trip Tasty!
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!
6. BYOO (Bring Your Own Oats)
Bring your own certified gluten free instant oats, so all you need is a bowl, spoon and boiling water to have a healthy meal. In fact, I’ve done without the spoon, making thinner oatmeal in my hotel room in a coffee cup and just drinking them! Hey, necessity is the mother of invention, and oats are filling and super nutritious!
I never leave home without it! Just make sure your oats are both certified gluten free and instant, otherwise you’ll need a stovetop or microwave to cook them properly.
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 planes, trains or automobiles.
7. Homemade Gluten Free Baguettes Do Double Duty
Go European and bake a fresh gluten free baguette for your next trip. You won’t regret it, as you pull off chunks of scrumptious crusty bread from a brown paper bag. It’ll make your next drive feel like a romantic adventure!
You’ll also have a lovely loaf in case you find some sandwich fixin’s along the way!
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!
9. Don’t Overlook Fruit
All natural, comes with its own packaging, and is naturally gluten free. Checks off all the boxes, don’t you think?
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. When You MUST Eat Out
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 do this … with the right planning.
There are some great crowd-sourced apps out where you can search for dedicated gluten free restaurants near you, search for restaurants that are certified through Allertrain/Kitchens With Confidence, or others where fellow gluten free eaters have had good experiences. One of the most comprehensive is FindMeGlutenFree.
Some other helpful tips when dining out 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 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 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), and any rice made with malt vinegar.
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!