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Travel Tips for People Who Are Gluten-Free

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Have you ever avoided a trip because you didn’t know how you would get safe food?

If you have, you’re not alone – I’ve done that, too. But, I learned a few things out of necessity I’ll share with you here which eliminated that issue altogether.

1. Grocery stores are your friend.

Unless you are traveling to very exotic locations where stores don’t exist (and this probably means you have to pack and prepare your own food anyway!), chances are you’ll be able to find a grocery store wherever you go.

Think easy-to-eat foods you can carry like pre-washed veggies, avocados, whole fruit, jars of applesauce, almond butter, tuna or lunch meat, and many stores even carry gluten-free crackers, breads and other snack items.

Sure, when everyone else is having dinner in a restaurant you might feel like the odd picnicker out, but ultimately you’re there for the people and the experience; let the food fall to the background when you can.

2. Coolers come in all shapes and materials – have you seen those insulated wine carriers that look like a purse?

If you’re on an extended trip and want to shop for a few days, consider buying a cooler of some sort. You can buy inexpensive, soft lunch box sized coolers that have plenty of room for some cold foods for a couple of days. Bonus: they can fold up when not in use for small storage spaces (like a glove box).

3. Bring back the elegant picnic.

Have you ever seen an old movie where they packed those cute picnic baskets and made a day of it? Instead of being sad about eating your sandwich al fresco, treat yourself to a fun mini-picnic – fun for all.

Here’s a personal example of a trip where I had to be 100 percent confident I was eating safe food (a date with the bathroom was not an option):

Before my flight, I packed a few things to get me through the trip – don’t forget, sometimes flights get delayed! I always find room for a couple Larabars, a banana or apple and a gluten-free sandwich (almond butter travels well and makes a nice meal with the fruit). You can pretty much count on airports to have some kind of food but it’s nice to have a stash just in case.

Once the flight landed and I got the rental car, we started driving out of the city to our hotel six hours away, and when it was time for a pit stop, I chose a place that had a well-known grocery chain.

I was actually surprised to find they had a good selection of gluten-free foods, but even if they didn’t, my shopping list was built for any old “mom n pop” store:

  • Lunch meat
  • Pre-washed veggie tray (carrots, tomatoes, celery, etc.)
  • Bananas, apples, etc. – whatever looked good and would travel well
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned green beans
  • Minute instant rice cups (cooks in the microwave in one minute or can be eaten cold in a pinch)
  • Salt, pepper, mustard, mayo (grab some packets from the deli if available to save space and money)
  • Can of nuts
  • Plain potato chips
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Bottled drinks
  • If needed – plastic cutlery (got some at the deli for free!)

I had also packed a couple extra Ziploc baggies from home to transfer the veggies into for easier travel and storage because those trays are often cumbersome. The other baggie was for ice to keep the lunch meat cold if we didn’t finish it all.

At the checkout, they had insulated grocery carrying bags, so I bought one to keep things cold – it was basically a picnic cooler for $1.99. Other bonus items were gluten-free bread and cookies to round out our feast.

Since we had about a five-hour drive ahead of us, we decided to eat right there in the parking lot, picnic style! I basically popped open the trunk, wiped off a suitcase, put down some paper towels and built sandwiches right there.

It may not be perfect, but you can always improvise!

When we got to the hotel I was able to pop things in the fridge and the staff was more than happy to supply ice so I could have my little cooler of food for all the activities planned for the next couple of days.

So, what are your interesting survival stories of travel gone wild? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 13, 2017
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