Traveling Gluten-Free: Making Sure You Have Enough Fuel for the Ride

June 15, 2016

Traveling Gluten-Free: Making Sure You Have Enough Fuel for the Ride

Tips for packing gluten-free snacks on the road.

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile this summer, you’ll need some ideas to keep you gluten-free on the road. Here are some quick tips to keep you gluten-free from point A to point B.

Traveling by PlanePlane

In-Flight Meals

Depending on how long your flight is, you may need to eat a meal on the plane. If that’s the case, you’ll want to call the airline before you book to determine if they offer gluten-free food options. Allergic Living magazine offers the Comparing Airlines chart, which outlines the food allergy policies of 11 major airlines. See what other gluten-free travelers, including Beyond Celiac CEO Alice Bast, have to say about gluten-free airline meals.

Short Flights

Whether you have a long or short flight, it is always a good idea to pack emergency gluten-free snacks. With flight delays, layovers and cancellations, you never know if you’ll find yourself in a pinch and in need of food – fast! Don’t count on in-flight snacks being gluten-free; even seasoned nuts can contain gluten.

Flying Out of the Country

Language barriers can make it even more difficult for the gluten-free traveler to explain their dietary needs. Before embarking on any journey outside the US, purchase dining cards that explain your gluten-free diet in the language of that country. This way, you can more easily help waiters, waitresses, chefs and other foodservice professionals accommodate your needs. Beyond Celiac Blogger Ambassador Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Globetrotter compiled a list of resources for getting translation cards. Pack a sufficient amount of nutritious gluten-free snacks, just in case!

Traveling by Car

Driving to a New Place

It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Research the stops and restaurants along your route to determine if you will be able to find safe, gluten-free food options. If you don’t feel confident that you can find options, you’ll know to pack extra, more filling gluten-free alternatives.

Driving to a Familiar Place

Restaurant menus and staff change frequently, and grocery stores don’t always carry the same products nationwide or from year-to-year. Even if you’ve traveled to your favorite vacation spot multiple times, it is safer to do your due diligence and ensure the options you’re expecting are still available. Do your research in advance so if something changes, you’ll have more than enough time to prepare accordingly. The more prepared you are, the more you can relax and enjoy your trip.

Packing for the Drive

Be sure to pack snacks for the ride, even if you are planning on stopping at a restaurant during the Cooler bagtrip. This way, if you arrive at the restaurant and decide you don’t feel comfortable dining there, you won’t be stuck without any options.

If you have room in the car, pack a cooler full of nutritious and filling gluten-free foods. Gluten-free sandwiches, salads, yogurt, fruit, raw vegetables and hummus are all great cooler foods that can be easily (and safely!) enjoyed at any rest stop. Be sure to pack only what you can eat during the drive if you’re traveling for a long period of time. Eat the food earlier in the trip and then dump the cooler out once the ice melts to give yourself space to restock. Or, take advantage of freezer packs. This will help prevent food from becoming wet or soggy from sitting on the ice.

Traveling by Train

Determining What You’ll Need

Depending on how long your train ride is or how many stops you have, use the tips above for traveling by plane and car. Contact the train company well in advance of your trip to determine if there are any options for you in the dining car. If you plan on eating at the train station between stops, keep in mind that gluten-free dining options may be limited, so be sure to pack accordingly. Since a large cooler will be too big and bulky for the train, take advantage of insulated bags or pack plenty of snacks that don’t need to be kept cool.

Gluten-Free Travel Snacks and Quick Meals

Here are some easy ideas for gluten-free on-the-go snacks.


  • Snack bars
  • Granola
  • Crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Dried fruit
  • Cereal
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Chips