Traveling takes a little more forethought and planning when you’re eating gluten-free. You can’t just stop at any old restaurant along the way or even assume that there will a place to eat in the airport. There are many places that will work, but just in case, I always keep a good stash of food with us. In fact, having safe food at hand is so important that I pack food before clothes, because we all know that it’s never good to see Mommy the kids in a full-blown hunger melt down.
It’s helpful to carry along food that can pack and keep well. For car rides, I pack lots of apples, Nature Valley Almond Crunch bars, several types of trail mix, cheddar rice cakes with Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese Spread (and plastic knives), chocolate rice cakes with a jar of peanut butter, and Honey Rice Chex.
For plane trips, I bring an entire food carry-on with Almond Crunch bars, apples, rice cakes, a package of Hormel Naturals deli meat packed inside a large Ziploc bag with an ice pack in it, and trail mix. Be careful of anything “liquid”. This includes peanut butter in a jar, and I know from experience that airport security has no sympathy for under-privileged gluten-free eaters. They’ll take that peanut butter right out of your bag, no matter how much you beg. Usually you can find fruit and Lay’s chips in an airport if you need it too. And, most hamburger places can accomodate you if needed.
I plan enough food to last us the trip, then if we do find a restaurant where we can eat, it’s a bonus. If not, we’re still set.
If we’re in the car, I’ll even pack food for our stay. We traveled 5 hours away a few weeks ago to visit friends for 2 days, and I had more food sacks than suitcases.
If we’re flying somewhere, I visit the grocery store once we get there to stock up. You can buy a cooler there, fill it up, and eat most meals that way. We’ve even brought an electric skillet and a crock pot with us to cook in hotel rooms, and most rooms have microwaves now. That means you could eat cereal, microwave eggs, or gluten-free oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch could be microwave quesadillas or rice cakes with meat and cheese, chips and fruit. And dinner could be your restaurant meals. Dinner could also be canned chili with Fritos, quesadillas, Taco Salad with canned beans, or Baked Potatoes.
Even though it seems daunting, planning is the key. You just have to get used to putting food into your agenda. And, you have to prepare yourself to be a traveling grocery store, which means you may need an extra suitcase just for food. In the end though, it’s cheaper than eating out, usually healthier anyway, and much more peaceful knowing you’re prepared.