Hit the Road: 5 Secrets to Traveling Gluten-Free Without Getting Sick and Without Spending a Fortune!
by Mara Alexander
After getting “glutenized” multiple times in a two week period, my body was fed up. I had been on the road traveling for business and my body was not happy. Twice I had bad gluten experiences at restaurants and another time a bad experience at someone’s home. My body usually takes a few weeks after getting glutenized to get back to my normal self. Sometimes it is hard to travel and eat out at restaurants and not get sick. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, a restaurant may accidentally cross-contaminate your food with gluten. Everyone is human and unfortunately mistakes in restaurants do happen, and that can end up affecting someone with gluten intolerance or Celiac. The trick is to try to eat at places that you know and trust. But many times the places that you know and trust are at home; so what happens when you are traveling for business or on vacation in an unfamiliar area? It can be a bit more challenging if you don’t regularly eat at a particular restaurant, so you might not know the chef or the setup in kitchen. Or if Jane Doe in the kitchen is throwing glutenous flour everywhere. Or if they are cooking your meat in the same pan that they just fried gluten in. You get the picture.
I became very determined several months ago to plan a road trip to the desert then through the mountains. After doing some research, I ultimately found that some of places in the desert that I wanted to go to would have slim pickin’s on gluten-free restaurant options. I chose a road trip through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. How in the world was I going to not spend a fortune on this trip while still being able to eat gluten-free and still have a great time?
1. I knew that if my husband and I were going to make this trip a success, we were going to have to bring most of the food in the car with us. We managed to fit 4 large tupperware containers full of gluten-free foods and supplies, 2 ice chests, plus our 2 suitcases and photography gear all in my tiny Honda. I like to tell people that we went “car-camping” even though we weren’t technically camping and we weren’t staying in our car. We just made the decision that we were going to “picnic” the whole trip instead of eating out, thus avoiding any chance of running into cross-contamination. And it WORKED! I did not get sick the whole time.
2. I was also determined not to spend a lot of money on our food and supplies. Since we decided not to eat out for the majority of the 10 days we were gone, I kept asking myself the question: Is it possible to get gluten-free foods at a discount with coupons and will I be able to stockpile enough foods for our trip? The answer is YES you can shop for gluten-free foods with coupons and get some really good deals for your road trip stockpile! For weeks I began scouring sites like Rachel at Surviving the Stores where she posts new gluten-free coupons often. She usually posts manufacturers coupons, so if you watch the stores and match-ups, you can find some of these items when they are discounted and pair them with a manufactuer coupon and sometimes a store coupon to get the deepest discount.
3. Other sites like Money Saving Mom, Gluten-Free Saver, Coupon Divas, Southern Savers and a host of other blogs have coupons and deals for gluten-free foods. You can also search Amazon to get good deals as well. There are many options out there to save some money on your gluten-free grocery items. Sometimes you can even find coupons for restaurants that serve gluten-free foods as well. The key is to be intentional about it and make sure you are watching the sites for gluten-free coupons. You can also write to your favorite gluten-free companies to get them to send you coupons. Some companies like the Blue Diamond Almond Breeze (gluten-free almond milk) have programs where they will send you coupons multiple times every few months after you request them.
4. After I stockpiled on gluten-free foods items in anticipation of my trip, I went ahead and cooked gluten-free meals and then froze them. I took some time to pre-bake cornbread, cookies, rice (jasmine rice freezes well in my opinion), gravies, soups, etc and I froze them. For breakfast, I brought ingredients for my protein shakes, and also some GF raisin breads and fruits. For lunch, we ate a lot of foods that were easy to make like sandwiches and pre-made GF pasta salads, and then for dinner we ate the pre-made meals that I had frozen. The only times that we had to go to the grocery store was once or twice to stock up on produce.
5. If you call ahead, you can find out if certain hotels have mini-fridges and microwaves so that you know how to prepare. If they do have a fridge and microwaves, then usually you can get by with just bringing ice chests/coolers. If not, you may need to bring foods that don’t need to be heated in a microwave. Don’t forget to bring supplies like paper plates, plastic cutlery, can openers etc!
If you plan it out, you can have a fantastic road trip without the worry of getting sick from gluten. Just remember that it’s best to over-plan rather than not planning enough. Have a wonderful time planning and enjoy your well-deserved trip!
Mara Alexander is the Founder of GlutenFreeWorld TV©, a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a Certified Health Consultant and a Professional of the Academy of Healthcare Management. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org