Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tips for Gluten Free Traveling 1.0

There's no doubt about it... traveling when you're gluten free is HARD. Figuring out which restaurants you can visit.... wondering if you're going to get sick anyway (and how many times can you pull over afterwards?)... having to plan ahead.... never being able to relax about food... family dinners that you really want to participate in... SO MANY aspects of traveling revolve around food.

I've been gluten free since 2007... and I've taken a lot of trips during the past 5 years. Often to visit friends and/or family, sometimes a weekend at the beach or the mountains, sometimes a trip to the zoo... no matter what the occasion you have to figure out what to do about food.

Most of our trips are within driving distance. We don't travel often by air, so please be aware these tips are for destinations that you can get too within 4-6 hours by car. I'd love for you to share your own tips on how you make international and/or air travel easier!

I STILL make mistakes and I continue to learn new ways to make life gluten free easier when traveling. Here are a few tips for you that have helped me:

A new love for traveling gluten free:

  • Rice Cooker Meals aka Cooking in Hotel Rooms 101: One of my FAVORITE ways to make safe meals gluten free is to bring a rice cooker and make easy meals yourself in your hotel room! Check out this post which shares TONS of rice cooker recipe ideas!
  • Homemade Prepared Meals: I recently discovered these super cute & frugal lunch boxes to take on trips! They are BPA-free, a cheap option, and they travel well! I used all four of my boxes over the weekend to prepare 4 ready made meals to take along with my husband and I. This was SUCH a lifesaver. Safe meals for breakfast/lunch and/or dinner that were already prepared and all I had to do was put them on a plate and heat them up. I didn't have to bring a ton of ingredients to make things once I was there. It was already done! We kept the meals in a cooler on the road. The only downfall to these lunch boxes is that they are not air-tight or leak-proof, so you will need to place them in a plastic bag or a lunch box that does not leak if you are worried about spills. I still love these lunch boxes anyway and I use them almost daily to take my lunch & breakfast to work. I love that it's just ONE container to wash, but it holds many different items like a bento box
  • Planning for Restaurant Meals: Before your trip decide how many times you want to eat out, along with eating the prepared meals you bring along (I really cannot tell you how helpful it is to bring safe meals along!) My husband and I often travel similar routes to different destinations simply because we know which restaurants are safe to eat at along the way. If you don't have time to look up restaurants along the way, purchase a copy of Triumph Dining's latest edition of their Essential Gluten Free Restaurant Guide or their restaurant gluten free ordering cards. These quick gluten free guides that you can keep in your car are incredibly useful for last minute and/or unplanned trips. 
  • For EMERGENCIES ONLY: I am hesitant to share this tip. This may not work for everyone, and I advise everyone to thoroughly research any dietary supplements that you want to add to your traveling routine. Please speak with your physician and/or nutritionist before using defensive enzymes. 
Imagine this situation: You were as careful as you could be, but you still ended up in a restaurant that you were unsure about. You feel like even though your meal should essentially be gluten free, it could have been cross-contaminated. In cases like that I like to keep digestive enzymes in my purse to help lessen any chance of getting sick on the road. I have only tried one brand: Gluten Defense. There are several different types you can purchase. I DO NOT advise using these pills as an excuse to CONSUME gluten on purpose. I only use enzyme pills like this as a precaution if I'm afraid my meal may not have been prepared safely. The few times I have used digestive enzymes, I have often still had symptoms, but they have been greatly lessened. So you may still get sick, but I think the enzymes help lessen the effects that gluten can have. Again, take these pills at your own risk, and do not use them so that you can consume gluten.

What are your tips for making gluten free road trips easier? 

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