Top tips and snack ideas for safe gluten-free traveling
I’ve been gluten-free for four years, and travel still scares me. What will there be for me to eat? What if I starve—or worse, what if I get glutened and feel sick the whole time? I’ve found that being prepared is the key to being a smart and healthy gluten-free traveler. Below, check out some helpful tips for eating safely while traveling, plus some simple, convenient, and satisfying snacks to bring with you on your trip!
Top 5 tips for gluten-free travel
- Do your research. Look up restaurants that offer gluten-free meals in the area you’re traveling to. Look for reliable chain restaurants like P.F. Chang’s or California Pizza Kitchen, or use the Gluten-Free Registry to seek out non-chain options.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Especially if you’re at a new-to-you restaurant, there’s probably a million things you’re wondering about—everything from ingredients to safe food prep to whether staff have been trained to handle meals for those who are gluten-free. Ask your questions! You’re not being annoying—you’re just trying to make sure you can eat safely. If your server doesn’t know the answer, ask nicely if you can speak to the chef or the manager for further details.
- Stock your hotel room. If there aren’t restaurants around where you’re confident eating gluten-free, eat in your hotel room if you can. Be prepared for this possibility by requesting a fridge and/or microwave in your room when you’re booking the room. Then, bring your own safe-to-eat food, or find a nearby grocery store that has gluten-free food, and enjoy it in your room.
- Going to a fun place like a theme park, baseball game, or the zoo? Many (although not all) places allow you to bring your own food or drink into the venue. Before you go, look up the policies and rules of the specific place you’re visiting. Depending on where you’re going, you may be able to bring in a canvas cooler stocked with cut-up fruits and veggies, sandwiches on gluten-free bread, bottled non-alcoholic drinks (just make sure they’re in plastic bottles, not glass), and your favorite snacks.
- Keep snacks handy. Whether you’re on the road, staying in a hotel, doing a fun activity, or seeing extended family, it’s always a good idea to keep your own snacks on hand for when hunger kicks in between meals. There are tons of simple, safe snacks you can pack, which leads me to…
Convenient gluten-free snack options
- Fresh fruit. It’s healthy, portable, and gluten-free! Make bananas, apples, oranges, or pears your travel buddies.
- Granola. Chex makes a couple awesome gluten-free granolas: Honey Nut and Mixed Berry Almond. They come in resealable bags—very convenient for when you’re on the go.
- Cookies. All my favorite cookies are made by Glutino! Their Vanilla Crème Cookies are my all-time fave (and they fit perfectly in snack-size Baggies so you can take ‘em with you anywhere!). But I’m really going wild for Glutino’s newest release—animal crackers! They come in two varieties—Graham and Original—and both are amazing. The Original ones are deliciously sweet, and the Graham ones have scrumptious cinnamony flavor. Plus, they come in cute shapes like elephants, hippos, lions, bears, and more! (As you can see in the photo above, my stuffed sloth approves. I share the animal crackers with him, but he eats them much more slowly than I do…)
- Bars. Another very portable snack, gluten-free bars can help you stay energized throughout the day. My favorite bars are Larabar Alt, KIND bars, and chia bars and supersnacks from Health Warrior.
- Pretzels and peanut butter. This is a great option for when you need a little extra protein. Bring single-serve peanut butter packs (I like Jif Natural) and a sandwich bag of Glutino pretzel twists or pretzel chips for dipping and dunking.
- Nuts. Blue Diamond makes small cans of almonds that are always good for a satisfying treat. I’ve also found handy little 100-calorie packs of their almonds at BJ’s—a healthy snack that’s small enough to fit into any purse.
- Refrigerated snacks. If you are bringing a cooler filled with ice or ice packs, or are going somewhere where you can safely stash cold snacks, consider healthy options like sliced veggies, fruits like grapes or melon cubes, single-serving yogurts, or string cheese. Just remember to keep these foods cold consistently!
What tips and tricks have helped you stay safe and healthy while traveling? Leave your ideas in the comments below!
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I first posted this article on Examiner.com.