Travel Tip #2 – Preview your gluten-free restaurant options.

I don’t know about you, but most of my recent travel has involved unexpected delays. That often means that I arrive at my hotel tired, hungry and ready to relax over dinner with a glass of wine. It also means that I don’t want a huge gap between dropping off my bags and heading for a restaurant. Of course I can usually find a gluten-free option at any restaurant, but when I’m already travel weary I like to minimize the difficulty.

Most of us spend some time searching the web when we’re planning a trip. Even if we choose to book our airline and hotel tickets over the phone, we’re either previewing flights, mapping hotels, or looking at our destination’s community calendar in advance. While we’re searching, it’s easy to add a gluten-free food search to the mix.

Screen Shot
Gluten-Free Search

Once you’ve mapped your hotel or bed & breakfast, map the closest restaurant, bakery or health food store that offers gluten-free options. Print a copy of the map and place it in your carryon or bookmark the map link on your mobile device for easy access. Being prepared will allow you to focus on the often swiftly changing logistical details of your trip with the confidence that you’ll be eating with ease once you arrive.

Of course your search may turn up a plethora of local restaurants you’ll want to sample before your trip is over. Knowing these in advance will allow you to make reservations when required and have an address handy when a colleague wants to know where to meet you.

On one recent trip, my advance search showed me a scrumptious coffee shop around the corner from my friend’s apartment that featured treats from a local gluten-free bakery. With that to look forward to, I finished off my airplane carryon food upon arrival and headed for the bakery the next morning.  I was not disappointed by the fare, and I was thrilled that there was no need to burden my friend with a dietary discussion before we’d even had a cup of coffee.

If you’re staying in a more rural area and an advance search turns up no options other than the local grocery, you’ll know that a refrigerator in your hotel room will be a plus. The ability to store yogurt, cheese, or a leftover piece of steak gives you more possibilities than having to rely on fruit, nuts, or a pouch of tuna if the next restaurant you try doesn’t have suitable options.

Spending a little time preparing in the comfort of my home gives me more resources for enjoyment when I reach my destination. For me, that feels like time well spent. Let me know how it feels for you.

Travel Tip #1 – Carry food on the airplane.

If you haven’t taken the time to review current TSA regulations, you may not realize that you can carry food with you on an airplane.  Not only can you carry it, it can be in opaque containers larger than 3.5 ounces.

I have carried nuts, fruit, tuna, muffins and boiled eggs.  I place the loose items in Tupperware® containers.  I purchase tuna in a pouch.  I peel the boiled eggs and place them with a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a reused sour cream container.

For ease at the X-ray machine, I put all the containers in a gallon zip top bag that I remove from my carryon and place in the plastic tub along with my shoes. I have never been detained, searched, or asked for explanation because of the food.

Carryon Food
Gluten-Free Carryon Food

Carrying gluten-free snacks has several benefits. Perhaps the most important is that having a gluten-free item within reach keeps me from being tempted to grab the first thing I see when my plane lands late, I am starving, and I have to scramble to make my connection.  Another benefit is that I don’t have to pay the inflated prices charged by many airport vendors.  I can also enjoy a snack on the aircraft along with the other passengers even when the airline doesn’t offer an acceptable option.

My greatest concern isn’t always whether I will be able to find a gluten-free snack or meal.  Because I am hypoglycemic, my greatest concern is often whether I will be able to find a gluten-free snack or meal before I go too long without food.  Having the option of carryon food eases this concern so I can feel good about planning as much travel as much as my budget and schedule will allow.

If you have been hesitant to plan a trip involving airline travel, there’s no need to limit yourself.  Get those bags packed and have a great trip!



From the TSA website:

“All food must go through the X-ray machine. Do NOT bring food to the security checkpoint unwrapped, as shown in the image on the right.

Food must be wrapped or in a container. Unpeeled natural foods like fruit are okay, but half-eaten fruits must be wrapped.”