Gluten-Free Travel: Packing Meals & Snacks

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Gluten-Free Travel: Packing Meals & Snacks

Ever ended up cranky and hungry on a flight or bus trip because you forgot to pack something you could eat? Including snacks to munch on will prevent the blood sugar blues and the temptation to eat something that might be contaminated because you’re hungry. Here are some great tips to help you prepare for an upcoming trip:

Shop for food a couple days before you travel.

Before you get caught up in the stress of leaving town and packing your other essentials, take some time to think about what you will want to eat while you’re traveling. If you have a long travel day, you'll need some real meals in addition to snacks. If you are traveling with children, pack plenty of food that won’t be too messy. You might also want to consider whether or not you’ll have access to gluten-free food upon arrival, so packing some extra snacks might be helpful.  Finally, remember to eat well before you leave! Use the GFP menu planner to help you plan for your travel day. 

Prep your food the night before you leave.

The last thing you want to deal with the morning that you travel (especially if it’s an early morning!) is getting food together for your trip. Take some time the night before and get everything together. Use recycled plastic tubs (yogurt, deli salad, hummus containers, etc.) for travel so you can dispose of them if you want to (or keep them for your return trip). These are great for protecting softer fruit (like grapes, berries, pears, peaches, etc.) and things that might otherwise get smashed (crackers, pretzels, chips, etc). They are also useful for transporting prepared foods like a gluten-free pasta salad or black bean dip. Grilling chicken breast or other meat that can be sliced is a great way to include healthy protein that makes for easy snacking. Portion out your food, put it in containers and group it together so you don’t forget anything.  

Remember size restrictions.

TSA only allows “liquids or gels” in containers that can hold 3.4 ounces (100mL) or less. This pertains to certain foods like yogurt, applesauce and others with similar consistency. To be safe, make sure your containers are within these guidelines, even if you have the same food in 2 containers or the larger container isn’t filled with food. Traveling with children can mean that TSA will be a little more lenient, but it’s always best to check ahead of time to make sure you are in compliance.  (See tsa.gov for more information.)

Invest in a soft sided mini-cooler and ice packs.

This is one of the best investments you can make for traveling. Once you are done with the food, the cooler folds into nothing and the ice pack can be re-frozen for the return journey. Check out the lunchboxes at grocery, drug and children’s stores. 

Don’t forget your water bottle.

You are allowed to bring any size water bottle as long as it is empty going through security. Fill it up once you’re in the “secure” area and make sure to stay hydrated throughout your travels. Fill it up again once you land to ensure you have water after you arrive. The air we breathe while on a plane is very dry and recycled, so it can be hard to hydrate which can lead to stiff muscles, irritability and headache. Drinking lots of water also helps flush out any “bugs” we might be exposed to from our fellow passengers. Children are especially susceptible to getting dehydrated, so make sure everyone is drinking water!

Snack ideas:

  • Cut up veggies (carrots, cucumbers, peppers, etc.) with hummus or black bean dip.
  • Trail mix: assorted nuts, seeds and dry fruit
  • Grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • Cut up apples with peanut or almond butter
  • Yogurt
  • Gluten-free crackers with cheese, nut butter (nut butter is available in single-serve packets, e.g. Justin’s nut butters, Barney Butter)
  • Kale or other raw food chips
  • Snack bars; i.e, Lara, Oskri, Zing, Kind
  • Grapes, berries, peaches, plums, apricots (consider cutting these up for ease)
  • Rice cakes, snap pea crisps, gluten-free pretzels
  • Turkey or other gluten-free deli meat slices
  • Pre-cooked sausages
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Breakfast burrito with rice tortilla
  • Some gluten-free cereals (like O’s or granola) 
elsie
if you know your destination - whether hotel or residence, you can pack non-perishable items and ship them to the destination, timing the delivery to coincide with the day you arrive. United States Postal Service has free shipping boxes - and the shipping charge is based on the size of the box- a great deal for dense or bulky snacks/nuts.... more
if you know your destination - whether hotel or residence, you can pack non-perishable items and ship them to the destination, timing the delivery to coincide with the day you arrive. United States Postal Service has free shipping boxes - and the shipping charge is based on the size of the box- a great deal for dense or bulky snacks/nuts. (shipping is often cheaper than checking luggage and one less bag to lug to the hotel.) Call the hotel ahead of time and ask how to address the box so that it's waiting for you at check in - explain you have food allergies. A big relief if there aren't GF stores where you are traveling or you don't want to spend your first day of vacation at the grocery store. less
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Jan
Thanks for the great suggestion, Elise! Any time you can avoid lugging another bag or lightening your load while traveling is so helpful.