saraseakitchenTraveling is something many people on restricted diets avoid doing at all costs. They change jobs if work requires frequent business trips, stop attending family reunions and give up family vacations. Even if people don’t feel comfortable eating out anymore, there is no reason for them to give up travel for good. Gluten-free travel is easier than ever these days. Like anything else we do that involves food, it does take extra work in order to do it safely.

In the past, we always chose travel destinations that had great dining options. So now we just choose places that have great gluten-free dining options. Since so many people living gluten-free don’t care to eat out anyway, they might want to focus on traveling to places that have stores with abundant gluten-free product offerings. That way they don’t have to pack everything but the kitchen sink in order to eat safely when away from home.

Larger metro areas are likely to have a Whole Foods and/or a Trader Joe’s and both retailers offer many trusted gluten-free products. However, many smaller markets now have health food and even mainstream grocery stores with gluten-free food sections. For most people in the U.S., the days of having to visit five stores in order to grocery shop are over. Here is a general rule of thumb about gluten-free shopping. If there is not a gluten-free or celiac support group in the area, there might be limited shopping opportunities for gluten-free products. The larger the gluten-free community, the better the shopping options there.

We tend to travel by car many times a year and never leave home without a cooler. It’s usually  a large one because I rarely go somewhere without finding new gluten-free products I’ve not seen in our stores before. And it’s tough for me to pass such items up, if I find them intriguing. I found the best gluten-free biscotti, made by Sorella’s Bakery, at a store in FL. Since then, we rarely travel without the travel friendly snack. Since most “free” breakfasts tend to be heavy on the gluten, I can always have coffee, fruit and my own terrific biscotti. If you keep these “Italian cookies” in an air tight container, they will stay fresh for many months!

People who aren’t going to eat out during trips can rent a fully equipped condo or rental property. Most such places tend to have stainless steel cookware so there is no reason to worry about what’s been cooked in it previously. Washing the items thoroughly before using them will keep you from having to pack your own pots and pans. Having to do that would take some of the fun out of vacationing, no doubt. I always pack handy Toast-It bags as well, so that I can safely use toasters no matter where we go. The amazing bags are reusable which makes them well worth the investment.

Usually, the first thing we do after unpacking the car and unloading the cooler (with any cold food we packed) is head to the nearest store to stock up on supplies for the trip. We buy fresh fruit and whatever other staples we need. Because I’m always concerned that I’ll end up without gluten-free crackers to snack on, I take my own whenever we travel anywhere. One can live without gluten-free crackers, but we tend to dine out every night and are huge fans of gourmet cheese plates. More often than not, I have to go without crackers or bread unless I take my own. Small thin crackers are much less conspicuous to pack in a handbag than a bulky roll or pieces of bread.

People who prefer to cook their own meals on vacation can find fresh meats, starches, eggs, veggies and fruit at any grocery store in this country. Even though we don’t eat dinner in while vacationing, we rarely eat breakfast out. Most breakfast places don’t offer gluten-free toast, waffles or even a gluten-free muffin. For me, eating just eggs and hash browns or grits for breakfast gets old after a couple of days. Therefore, we pack things like Udi’s muffins and buy other breakfast staples upon arrival at our destination.

No one should eat out if they don’t want to, but staying close to home all the time isn’t really necessary these days. Gluten-free travel is not only possible – even if you don’t eat out – it can actually be fabulously fun. Order some gluten-free meals from Go Picnic, pack some safe snacks and hit the road. Don’t let being gluten-free keep you from enjoying the things you enjoy – even if it’s traveling the world!

Remember to pack our grocery guide to help with food shopping. If you decide to venture out to eat (in the U.S.), the restaurant guide can help with that as well.