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Gluten-Free Travel Tips

I love to travel, in spite of airport security and the hassle of packing, (especially for a Celiac), but really...I don't mind. I still love the feeling of rushing to the airport to catch a flight to somewhere...and as the plane takes off, the feeling of soaring above the earth is really one of my favorite things to experience - off to a familiar, or perhaps unknown destination.

With that said, I have learned the hard way over the years, that it really does take someone with Celiac Disease an extra amount of time to pack...I mean packing for one Celiac is like packing for three persons...given the amount of time and though that has to go into the packing of our "snack bag," or as I fondly refer to mine as...the survival kit!
I just returned from a Thanksgiving vacation, hence why this topic is top of mind and I received an email this week from a reader asking for help when she travels around North America for work.  These two ideas were the catalyst for this entry, knowing how tough it truly can be to know what to bring on an airplane that's safe to eat, given the fact that NOTHING in 90% of airports worldwide offers much for a Celiac to eat...safely.

So here little travel system that works really well - these are just a few handy tips that I really do live and travel by and that have saved my gluten-free bacon many times over when I'm delayed or stuck somewhere, with otherwise nothing to eat. These will keep you safe and sated:
  1. I
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    always carry a boatload of gluten free Lara Bars in my bag. There are many flavors but my favorite is Apple Pie.  They come in very handy as a meal replacement when you are flying or stuck with zero options in an airport.
  2. I also load up on lots of organic nuts and put them in baggies that can go through security: almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc. and sometimes I'll throw in some raisins too, just for a little extra flavor.
  3. Another easy tip is going to Trader Joe's or any grocery store really, but TJ's has great bagged trail mixes with dried fruits and nuts and those are really handy when you are flying a lot and at least they offer some protein and fiber.
  4. I also bring hard-boiled eggs along with me when I fly, as well as carrots - I'm sure other passengers just love the aroma from the eggs but I'm discreet..and honestly, don't really care - they are not starving half of the flight like we are! Ha!
  5. One other tasty option is slicing up some of your favorite cheese and bringing with it, Mary's Gone Crackers Organic Onion crackers. These are pretty tasty and make for a semi-filling snack.
I hope these tips will prove helpful for you. I realize that most of the time we don't have the luxury of munching on warm foods, but honestly I've packed this stuff all over the world with me when I fly, and they truly are life savers.
I hope these little tid-bits are helpful AND I would love to hear from some of you about what you bring to eat when you bus, train, car or plane!

Eat well and cheers!

As always, welcomes your comments (see below).

Spread The Word

7 Responses:

Seth Cain

said this on
18 Dec 2008 9:19:14 AM PST
This article made my day. I just found out 2 weeks ago that I have Celiac disease and 1 week ago I had to travel for work. I packed gluten-free foods into my carry on just like you do. Now I know to call it a Celiac 'survival kit.' I feel less crazy pulling food out of my luggage now.

said this on
03 Jan 2009 1:00:55 PM PST
I am so glad you can eat that much roughage/ nuts. I am much older (was diagnosed just 3 years/ ago after at least 25 years of suffering undiagnosed) 80 and feeling lucky to know what I have and 'what to do about it somewhat!! I have done very little traveling..too weak most of the time with limiter diet, found last May to have diverticulitis too. But am getting that settled down somewhat finally. I did travel 100 miles 1-3-09, took chicken, brown rice and veggies in covered dish to warm at neice's. Worked good rest had their sdw's, potato salad, cookies...I had my main dishes, rice muffin, tea and a banana!! So glad you are doing your blog..helping others. THX You.

Hobart tasmania

said this on
26 Feb 2009 6:53:13 AM PST
I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.


said this on
15 Oct 2009 12:36:16 AM PST
I like to travel on planes and don't trust any food in the airport or on the plane that I don't prepare myself. For snack food I pack pepperoni sticks (Freybe makes a dry pepperoni that will last forever without refrigeration) and individually wrapped cheese sticks in a plastic flip top cigar holder a banana in a banana holder so it doesn't get squished rice crackers in their foil pouch (which I put in an empty facial cleansing cloths container so they don’t get squashed) M&M’s mixed with almonds or other nuts in a previously empty and reusable m and m flip top tube (so I don’t have to worry about using my hands which may not be gluten free) gluten free granola type bars (which I put in a snap tight plastic sunglass holder so they don’t get squashed) Kool-aid individual powder pouches so I make my own flavored water gluten free cookies in a plastic half cup with lid Tupperware container
Lays individual serving size chip sleeves
pre-cut veggies and baby carrots in Ziplock bags
individual serving size ranch dressing packets. I find these are handy for using as dip for veggies, or potato chips (the kind you find in fast food restaurants or get by the case at Costco. If you know someone who orders for a restaurant they may also be willing to sell you a half case or flat.)
I also take my own plastic flexible disposable glasses (3 stacked inside of each other gives them extra strength) so I can have a drink from a newly opened juice or wine bottle and not worry about where their glasses have been sitting or if they were touched by gluten hands or re-stacked in the sleeve. I usually say I have severe reactions to some foods in order to avoid a long drawn out explanation if they seem rushed when I ask them to use my glass. Sometimes they query and if there seems time I will use the opportunity as a teachable moment and give them a full explanation of Celiac disease, after all they did ask so I’m assuming they are interested, and I’m hoping that passing on this information will benefit some other traveler down the road. As a unplanned bonus I find my disposable glasses are slightly larger than the ones they give you on the plane, and even though I never ask they always seem to give me more than the other passengers.
If I am flying a long way and want a meal I pack mini flavored tuna with the peel off top (these are under the 100ml limit so I have 2 packed in my carry on Ziploc bag of liquids for airport security) and then I put the tuna on top of crackers and dip the cracker/tuna combination in the individual ranch salad packets that also were packed in my liquids pouch. If I’m wanting a more substantial meal I pack a small dish with a lid (that has a fork inside), and the ready-made rice that comes in the tear open plastic pouches. These are not considered a liquid so you can bring several. I just put one pack behind my back like a lumbar support when I first board the plane, and by suppertime it’s warm. I put the tuna on top the rice in my dish and add the ranch dressing as a sauce. When I’m done, I put the plastic fork back in my dish and put the lid on top, ready to be washed when I get to my hotel room. I have lots of other survival tips for meals you make outside of your hotel room which I will share another day.


said this on
24 Feb 2010 3:46:59 PM PST
MotherSurfer, You are completely awesome, thank you. I'm looking at a 30+hr Amtrak trip, and while everyone online tells you the obvious: "bring food with you", there are very few practical suggestions. Trail mix and cookies are not going to cut it! The tuna/rice/dressing, pepperoni/cheese sticks, etc., ideas sound brilliant, and I imagine there are similar things I can find. Please, post more! Thank you!!


said this on
15 May 2010 4:46:48 PM PST
I would be careful with the Trader Joe's nuts and trail mixes if I were you, they made me really sick from cross contamination. Otherwise, great advice! I also like to pack string cheese.


said this on
17 Aug 2010 3:34:32 AM PST
Very Nice Article.The sources came from different areas. My bunch of thanks for your interest. I will book mark and share with my friends.

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