Air Travel Gluten-Free

For a long time after going gluten-free, I almost never flew anywhere.  I can still remember my first plane trip gluten-free.  I took so much stuff!  Granted, I knew I was in charge of making a birthday cake and there wasn’t really much for me at my grandpa’s house to work with, in terms of “clean” equipment.  I took everything I would need: a hand mixer (I bought for $7 at Wal-Mart, and still have), a rubber spatula, a small frying pan and pancake turner, and a mixing bowl.   I also had the cake mix and some pancake mixes, cereals, bars…

Lately, I travel more, but generally don’t stay as long.  When traveling by plane and staying in a hotel less than a week, I travel differently (it’s also much easier to find safe food and restaurants than it was 6 years ago, and there are baggage restrictions).

Even though it is easier to find food, that doesn’t always mean you will, especially if you have other food allergies/intolerances.

Generally, I fly out in the morning (from home): I maximize my trip time, avoid the long lines at security, and avoid road traffic (traffic is ridiculous near DFW airport).

I always make sure I have enough to sustain me for the day, in case my travels are prolonged.  This came in handy on my way home from Expo West, as my second flight left 3 hours late.  I left my hotel at 5:30 in the morning and didn’t get home until 7:30 in the evening.

When departing from home, I fill a couple of Ziploc bags with cut-up fruit and veggies.  To California, I had red bell pepper, celery, and some very delicious apples (I don’t remember what kind they were, but they were awesome).  To Chicago, it was cucumbers and oranges.  Tip for apples: dip the apple slices in some lemon-lime soda (diet is okay).  The citric acid in the soda will help keep the apples from turning brown.  Prepare a sandwich to take along with you.  Take some protein or cereal bars to have in case you need more food than you expected.  To Chicago, I brought along some homemade beef jerky, for the much-needed protein.

I took a variety of snack bars to Chicago.

If you need to take a little cooler with you, to bypass security, take a bag of frozen peas as your ice.  They are neither liquid nor gel, but will keep cold items cold longer than just the cooler bag alone.  Additionally, you can refrigerate the cooler bag ahead of time, so the peas don’t have to cool down the bag.

If you do end up without food, there is always something available at one of the stores in the airport.  You can buy an apple or banana.  Snickers bars are almost always available at the newsstand.

These days, no Celiac should starve on a trip.  There are enough mainstream options to keep you alive and well.  If nothing else, stop in at a pharmacy and grab some peanut butter.

Sometimes, however, you don’t really know what is in store for you, in regards to time, location, etc.  Take my Chicago trip, for instance.  I had never been to Chicago before, didn’t really have time to read the DDW schedule (probably should have done that two months ago), and figured that cabs would be pretty expensive.  I had enough granola and protein bars to last me awhile, plus two A Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles boxes, and a bag of granola.

When I flew to Anaheim for Expo West, however, I took enough food to get me there, and that was it.  I knew that I would get plenty of tastes and samples at the Expo, at that being with Cynthia Kupper, I would have no problem getting gf meals.  You see, for all my knowledge of how to eat out safely gluten-free, I rarely actually go to any place that I don’t already have some confidence in.  A number of really bad experiences in my beginning stages of being gluten-free have tainted my willingness to readily place my health in other’s hands.

Before I left for Chicago, I tweeted the need for some gf restaurant ideas.  That’s the great thing about social media – you’ve got “friends” everywhere, who have knowledge you don’t.  Make good use of the resources available to you.  Find a gluten-free support group in the area you’re headed, and ask the leaders what is available.  And have fun!

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