5 Secret Weapons for Gluten-free Travel by Tiffany Hinton, GF Mom Certified
Traveling with allergies and Celiac disease is not fun. Infact, traveling is one of the biggest challenges I hear about in my coaching practice from women. Over the last decade I have been blessed with a lot of travel both for business with my husband and together with our family. We went on tour with the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo as a speaker each year, on family vacations, and even a few cross country road trips. I have my own go to strategies for traveling that I have learned from experience. I also have the secrets that help my clients travel with joy instead of fear. Let’s dive into the solutions and leave fear behind. These simple tools will help you travel with ease and enjoy your travels.
Personally, I love to get local and experience the culture and food of the area we are visiting. I remember our first trip, just Will and I, to Cabo 15 years ago. We picked up the local penny saver newspaper and translated our “must try” list. This included a local place for breakfast that was to have the best huevos ranchero in town. Inorder to make this happen we had to take the bus to a local neighborhood. The restaurant was really a tent with a few plastic tables and chairs. They served fresh squeezed orange juice and the most amazing eggs and homemade salsa. These special, off the path moments are why we love to travel. I love to explore and wander.
Fast forward to today, I would not be able to eat that particular dish, at that particular restaurant. But, eating out is still very possible for me with a few secrets; even with my 7 food allergies and Celiac disease.
First, let’s grab a journal or piece of paper and answer a few quick questions. Answer these 3 questions honestly. Do not spend more than 10 minutes on this. Also, do not skip this important step to removing travel anxiety.
– What do you really want to experience on your trip? What flavors, taste, colors, the whole experience?
– What is the worst that could happen? (Yes, for severe food allergies you could die. This is the truth and it is scary. Write that down and move to question 3)
– What do you have to do to ensure the worst thing does not happen?
• Do you need to wear a safety bracelet?
• Do you need to inform the wait staff or insist on speaking to the chef yourself?
• What else?
Your answers to the questions above will provide guidance and awareness that supports a more joyful travel experience. Use that feedback to create your own personal traveling healthy plan. Let me also share with you my own secrets.
1. Try to eat ethnic food as much as possible and skip the traditional American restaurants. Many of the ethnic restaurants traditionally use corn instead of wheat and also use rice. You can use the Find Me Gluten Free App to local safe restaurants. Yelp and your local travel bureau may also offer reviews and top lists you can read. I have also recently started to use google maps to search for gluten-free restaurants with ease.
2. Always carry GlutenAway. These are the probiotic and enzyme complexes I take before each meal. If by chance I end up cross contaminated, I will take more enzymes and probiotics throughout the day. My go to supplements to help digest the gluten include Gluten Away and Just Thrive. We have also started to use Bloat from Arrae to help with gastro bloat and pain after meals. You can use our special code GFMOM for 15% off at justthrivehealth.com.
3. Carry snacks all the time. This is important because there will be many times when I cannot find a safe place to eat, especially while on the road or inside an airport. As much as fasting is healthy for us, after a long day of exploring, hiking or walking an expo floor being hungry and tired is not the best combo. I may start to resemble a gremlin without food at some point. TSA will let you carry on prepackaged and clearly labeled food as long as it is not creamy or liquid. This means I bring cuties, Paleovalley beef sticks, and dried fruit many times. I have also brought along chocolate in the past when it is not too hot. You can utilize our personal link for Paleovalley beef or turkey sticks and get our insider discount by visiting bit.ly/Paleovalleyglutenfree. It is cheaper than Amazon!
4. Speaking up for yourself is a must. This may be the hardest secret. You have to be ok telling a friend or family member you cannot eat at a specific restaurant or at their home even. You have to be ok telling the wait staff you have an allergy and would hate for an ambulance to have to come during your meal. Or as Lillie did so many times as she was learning to speak for herself. She would say “I can not have tomatoes, or I get diarrhea.” Many times the waitress would look at me with large eyes and I would confirm she was correct and she was allergic to tomatoes. Lillie became famous in our family for ordering a cheese pizza – no sauce please. My biggest piece of advice is not to worry about the judgement or others feelings about your boundaries. Your health is not worth their approval. Many times they do not understand what you are risking and do not mean to respond negatively to you. If you are sick then the suffering can last 3 days, 3 weeks or worse, you could die from exposure. This is really important. Speak up. Ask for the chef if you need to. Offend Aunt Mary for not clearing your plate.
5. Rent a hotel room or house with a kitchen you can use. We have traveled with a flat top electric skillet and cooked our own pancakes, brought the Vitamix for smoothies and every family vacation our hotel fridge is full of gluten-free lunch meat, bread and sandwich toppings. We normally do an Amazon fresh delivery to the hotel with supplies or run to the local grocery store for our lunch food and hotel snacks while away. Did you know you can order groceries and supplies to pick up from Walmart or Target while traveling cross country? You can create an order in advance and have it ready for pickup when you reach your destination. This is perfect for families especially that need gluten-free food options fast for little ones.
Travel does not need to be a nightmare, and is certainly not something you should avoid. Travel should be joyful. You got this. It is time to start wandering. The world is open for you to play. I would love it to hear your experiences. Tag your gluten-free travel wins on Instagram using @gfmomcertified