Gluten Free Travel Expertise

I travel for work – A LOT. For the last three years I have been traveling almost every week for work. This was challenging three years ago when the only dietary restriction I had was type 1 diabetes. Now that I have been traveling for two years with Celiac I have developed a repertoire of tricks to get me from home to destination and back without starving or contaminating myself.

Carry-on restrictions are constantly changing. That said, since eliminating food service on flights, most airlines allow customers to bring on breakfas/lunch/dinner in addition to the standard carry-on bag allowances. With the recent restriction on liquids juices and yogurts are forbidden, but solid foods are currently A-OK. I find that taking my fresh food in a grocery bag draws fewer questions from TSA and airline personnel. Get a letter from your doctor outlining your food needs just in case.

I put cold items such as hard boiled eggs, meat cold-cuts, hot dogs etc. in one of the hot/cold “TO GO” bags I get at Whole Foods with a frozen bag of edamame as my “ice pack.” Cut veggies, whole fruit, salt and pepper and my plastic fork/spoon/knife packet go in the grocery bag. A few condiment packets fit in my Ziploc bag of liquids.

I take varying amounts of fresh and non-perishable food depending upon the length of my trip and when I will be able to access a grocery store in my destination city. One obvious thing that took me a long time to figure out is that there are grocery stores everywhere. I can get by for a while on what I bring and then get extra food at the grocery store. I put the non-perishables in my suitcase that I carry-on or check.

I call the hotel in advance and request a microwave and/or fridge in my room. If it’s a really short trip I will take the drinks out of the minibar and use that as my fridge, putting the drinks back in the minibar before I leave to ensure I’m not charged for the items. I know that many people on the Delphi forums will order food from, Kinnikinnick or Gluten Free Pantry and have it delivered directly to the hotel so that it’s there for them on their arrival. Think of cooking from your microwave as a fun challenge. After all, didn't Martha Stewart have to make due with a microwave when she was "away" for a few months?

Below is a list of items I have found useful – please let me know if you have any other great tips or ideas. I am always looking for new ways to make travel easier.
Please double check any ingredient lists as formulations frequently change and different flavors may not be gluten free.

Hard-Boiled Eggs
String Cheese
Tuna/Salmon Packets (beware of any extra flavors)

Pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower (good raw or heated)
Apples and oranges
Avocadoes (take them before they are ripe and will be ready to eat in a few days)

Packets of Mustard/Mayo (then make tuna or chicken salad)
Salad Dressing packets
A1 sauce , Tabasco, or BBQ Sauce packets– heat chicken with sauce in microwave
Gluten Free Soy Sauce packets for sushi
Salt and Pepper packets

Dried fruit and nuts or trail mix
Protein Bars – PureFit Nutrition Bars, Lara Bars, certain Zone and Balance Bar flavors etc.
Freeze Dried Food Packets
Indian Food Packets
(if you don’t have a microwave, submerge the packet in hot water at the hotel or eat at room temperature)
Rice Meals

Buy at the Grocery Store
Larger condiment bottles
Water/juice etc.
Fresh cut fruit
Salad ingredients

While in general I don't recommend relying on airport food to be gluten-free, you can check which restaurants are in the airports on your itinerary.

Happy travels!


paola said...

Hy Catherine,
I'm an Italian girl, and I'm planning a trip to USA next month.
I'm searching the web for usefull info and suggestions on how to manage with my GF needs and I find your post on GF travel diet really interesting.
I think I will bring with me pasta, bread and cookies from Italy and buy fresh food and protein in us stores. I've experienced last year the Whole Food market products, a bit expensive but safe + I also need to have a dairy free diet and WFM is a great choice.
If you have any suggestions pls advice! As by reading comments in forum and blogs I've also discovered that GF restaurant in Us are not so safe....

Catherine said...

Ciao Paola!

I'm glad you enjoyed my blog. Feel free to email me if you have any more specific questions. What cities will you be visiting? There are lots of GF dining options in NYC.

I will need some GF in Italy help from you when I go back to Firenze (fine di settembre)

Buon viaggio!

Anonymous said...

Hey there !
i'm a canadian celiac who likes a wide variety of food, but i'm going a a trip to the states with school soon, and i was wondering if you had any suggestions of luches i can carry with me in parks or anywhere. any suggestions would be very helpful !
thanks alot !