G-Free Travel Essentials



Traveling with a restricted diet presents some unique challenges. Safe food may only be available intermittently, or sometimes not at all. What if the only safe food is something you dread? You might encounter situations where something that should be gluten-free, isn't.


It Doesn’t Have To Be A Disaster


I’ve done a lot of traveling over the years. Road trips, air travel, and mini adventures – all things I have learned from. Things don’t always go as intended. But what matters most is planning and preparing for the unexpected. Always have a plan B. It’s better to spend time planning ahead, instead of ending up in a disappointing situation.


Mode of Travel Will Dictate Food You Pack

Air

If you are traveling by air, things will be slightly trickier as going through security with food in tow can be problematic. You will need to ensure enough safe food is on hand for the flight and in case there are any delays. This means both celiac suitable and TSA acceptable.

Many airlines offer gluten-free meals, which need to be requested in advance. I still recommend bringing your own stash of food for several reasons. The main one being that your safe gluten-free meal could end up served to another passenger by mistake. Don't forget to double check that your meal is actually gluten-free once it's brought to you. It’s also important to prepare for potential delays. There is no guarantee you will like the gluten-free meal offering or that it will be enough substance to satisfy your hunger.



Driving

Road trips are exciting. They also allow for extra leniency when packing food. You can bring along an entire cooler full of gluten-free goodies! For longer road trips, I like to wrap and freeze everything ahead of time – even sandwiches. This ensures the cooler remains at a safe temperature.

Scout out potential rest stops for safe gluten-free options ahead of time. If you will be staying in a hotel, aim for one with a kitchenette. It’s super easy to explore hotel amenities online. Make a list of which hotel chains work for you and take it along for the ride. Pick up travel books and research what is available along your route. My personal favorite is Along I-75 by Dave Hunter. It's brilliant if you plan on making the drive to Florida.


Invest in a good cooler. If you are not using an electric cooler, be sure to replenish the ice as needed. Driving also allows you to visit grocery stores along the way to your destination. This makes it easy to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. Unfamiliar stores give you an opportunity for some gluten-free adventure. Who knows what cool items you will find.



Train

Figure out how long your journey will be and how much food you will need to bring. You should also inquire about whether gluten-free meals can be provided. There may be some routes which cannot accommodate safe meal needs. Also take note of how much advance notice is necessary for special dietary requests. Always double check with staff and read labels to ensure that food is gluten-free.



Ship

Let your cruise line know your dietary needs ahead of time. Connect with the maitre’d as soon as you can after arriving on the ship. Let him or her know your dietary needs and request that they pass this onto your head waiter. See if your meals can be pre-ordered ahead of time. If an issue arises speak up, but make sure you do so politely.

Policy varies between cruise lines so find out if it is okay to bring food from home on board the ship. If you're allowed to do so, it will most likely need to be pre-packaged and unopened. In other words no homemade cookies or sandwiches. Request a mini fridge if possible to store extra snacks and drinks purchased on board.



Know Your Needs

Do you get grumpy when you’re over hungry? Will limited food choices dampen your mood? How long can you get by on snack food? Are you relying on food service or will you be making your own food? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself before a trip.
If you will be relying on restaurants at all during your trip, it's essential to research them ahead of time. Although many restaurants offer gluten-free menus, they are sometimes not always celiac safe. It is important to ask questions and lots of them.



Important questions to ask:




  • Ask if a manager or someone trained in special diets can take your order
  • Is the gluten-free pasta boiled in a fresh pot of water? Ie: It hasn't been used for gluten-containing pasta
  • Is the bread being offered actually gluten-free? If so, what brand is it?
  • Ask for separate condiments and toppings, which haven't been tainted with cross contact
  • Will my meal be prepared in a separate area, away from crumbs/flour?
  • Is a dedicated toaster used for gluten-free bread?
  • Ask for the Chef to wash hands and change gloves before taking care of your order
  • Are separate pots & pans used for gluten-free meals
  • When your meal's brought out, verify that it is gluten-free. Go over ingredients and prep with staff.

If you get the feeling that gluten-free meal can't be safely provided, skip it. I live by the motto “when in doubt, go without”. I would rather stay hungry a little longer than become ill due to 



Extra Essentials For the Gluten-Free Traveller


  • ·        Lysol Wipes
  • ·        Toaster Bags
  • ·        Thermos
  • ·        Tupperware & Utensils
  • ·        Gluten-Free Translation Cards
  • ·        Gluten-Free Dining Cards

  

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