Traveling Gluten Free – Gear, Tips and Tricks!

Pictured: Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion

I love to travel.  A diagnosis of Celiac Disease [About Me] has slowed me down, but it certainly has not stopped me.  Related: [Trip Reports] with more on the way.

This post is a roundup of some of the gear, gadgets and tips for making the most out of your trip.  Got a travel tip? Let us know!

  • Coolers, coolers and more coolers.  If you’re driving, a good cooler is a must.  Both for taking food and bringing food back that you may have access to back home.  I like the square wheeled coolers, because they can usually fit larger items, like frozen pizzas.  I have the Coleman 45 Quart C-Tec Cooler specifically. I also have an RTIC rugged cooler for warmer weather or longer trips.  I have the 45 quart size, but 20 quart and 60 quart sizes are also available.
  • Ice packs – I much prefer reusable ice packs vs soaking everything with water and ice.  Beyond keeping things dryer, they also make organizing your cooler much easier. No more trying to push things down into the ice. If you anticipating being freezer-less while on the road and cannot refreeze your ice packs, take some large zip top bags along to fill with ice.  Check out Cooler Shock Gel Packs – they are amazing.
  • Cooler friendly GF meals – Freshly Gluten Free Meals [Get half off your first order of four meals].  As a Freshly subscriber… I love these meals in general, but they are also great for traveling.  Since they are fresh, not frozen, they play nice in the cooler.  Also, each meal is sealed, that means no leaking and no ice/water soaked food.  Beyond that, you’ll get some reusable ice packs for your trip.
  • Neoprene Tote.  I have this one by BUILT NY.  If you probably won’t be able to take a 45 quart cooler with you.  This folds flat easy storage. It easily fits in my backpack or packed bag and still allows me to keep things cold while on the go.  Take some quart size zip tops along to hold ice.  Taking a couple, one in your backpack and one in your checked bag, gives you some more capacity.
  • Snacks!  When I’m traveling, I try to have at least a couple of meals worth of food on me at all times.  These aren’t meals I’m going to be journaling about later because I loved them… they are safe calories that I can rely on if need-be.  The usual suspects are included… gluten free granola and protein bars (for something different, check out KIND Strong Bars), nuts, dried fruits, beef jerky [Search: Oberto Gluten Free on Amazon], GoPicnic snacks and so on.  You can usually supplement by picking up some fresh fruit wherever you’re at.  A lot of airports now have gluten free snacks, but remember to… bring the requisite arm and leg required to purchase these. 🙂
  • I’m not a fan of crushed, smooshed protein bars.  There’s nothing quite as pathetic feeling as eating something that has been squished beyond recognition out of your backpack while your loved one enjoys some delicious, gluten containing meal.  I use the smaller two containers in this Rubbermaid canister set to protect items in my backpack and checked bag.  The smallest one fits perfectly in the bottom of my backpack. I’ll pack it with protein bars, and some shelf stable GoPicnic snacks.  When I get ready to eat them they are in great shape and much less pathetic.  I’ve used the larger two containers in that set in my checked bags when going on a longer trip.  Again, protecting food items from getting crushed or breaking/spilling.
  • Sunscreen – if you’re headed to a sunny destination, pick up some gluten free sunscreen.  Check out Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion.  I started using this before my Celiac diagnosis and was super happy when I learned it is gluten free.  Sum Bum is the best sunscreen I’ve ever used.  It feels like a really good moisturizing lotion going on and, at least for me, it lasts a long time before needing re-application.
  • Eating while at cruise ports.  I don’t eat restaurant meals in cruise ports, or at least most cruise ports.  It’s usually too difficult to pull off and there isn’t much time.  I eat a big breakfast and then bring enough packaged snacks to make it through the day. Depending on the locale, there may be an issue taking food off the ship into a foreign country. I’ve never had an issue with packaged foods, but I would never try to take fresh foods or fruits ashore.
  • If at all possible, get a hotel or condo with a refrigerator and a microwave. These give you a lot of options and make you much less dependent on eating out.
  • If your accommodations don’t offer refrigerators in the room… they may still have them available. Many hotels keep mini-fridges and provide them by request. People commonly need these for medical reasons. Just phone ahead and ask.
  • If your hotel doesn’t offer a microwave in the room… they may have one available for use in a common area.  Those that don’t may still be able to warm items up for you in their restaurant or room service kitchen.  Again, phone ahead.
  • Humangear GoToobs – Gone are the days when I could rely on those little bottles of shampoo, soap and lotion that are included in hotel rooms.  I need to bring my own gluten free personal care products.  These reusable tubes are great. They come in a variety of sizes and have a large opening so you can fill them with soaps, lotions, even toothpaste.
  • Stainless, vacuum insulated food container.  Vacuum insulated containers have two walls and are typically made from stainless steel.  A vacuum is pulled between the two walls and whammo… you’ve got some pretty amazing insulating capability.  I have this Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Food Jar.  This allows me to heat up soup or chili at home and have it for lunch or even dinner.  Pre-heating the container helps.  There are other brands and sizes out there including Hydro FlaskKlean Kanteen and MiiR
  • If you’re heading to a Spanish speaking country… Gluten Free Dining Out Cards (English and Spanish Edition) are extremely useful [Review]
  • Take along some individually wrapped plastic knives, forks and spoons.
  • Find Me Gluten Free App – My #1 digital tool for trying to eat out gluten free safely.  Please use this app, doing so is a service to your fellow gluten free friends.  Suggest locations that are not listed and give fair and honest reviews.
  • Travel size condiments and snacks.  Minimus specializes in small items and has a Gluten Free section.
  • Can Opener – this design is nice because it’s relatively small and easy to pack.
  • Nima Sensor Gluten Tester – A pea sized sample and a couple of minutes tell you if the sample contains gluten.  The test pods are single use do cost and it’s not foolproof detecting cross contamination as the sample size is not large.  However.. it is a powerful tool that can help you make an informed decision. The iOS and Android apps let you share your results and see other Nima users results.
  • Hot plate – if you have the room, one of these can be handy
  • Research, research and more research.  Search the Internet, use the Find Me Gluten Free App, call ahead and talk to shops and restaurants and contact the local Celiac Support Group. Knowledge is power. Do your homework for best results.

Got a travel tip, trick or gadget that should be on this list? Let us know!

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