I’m often asked about my platform and writing and about the inclusion of gluten free writing and celiac disease awareness. I’m constantly telling people that when I set out to write that I never thought that part of my voice would be that for gluten free/celiac disease awareness, but that I am so grateful for this platform and to be able to spread awareness. Often, when I attend a conference I network with various brands and individuals and share a bit of my story and the struggle to get diagnosis for Samuel and why I am completely dedicated to being a voice of hope, awareness, and knowledge for Celiac Disease.
Now, since I do travel – which I’m blessed to do as I love speaking, sharing about finding joy and intentional living and networking – I’ve had to learn to travel gluten free. I haven’t had gluten since Samuel was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (and I feel great, but that’s another post). So today for Friday Favorites I thought I’d share nine of my favorite traveling gluten free tips. These tips work best for air travel – when we travel locally or go to the cabin that’s an entirely different traveling story and plan. In other words, I almost bring my kitchen – including my dedicated gf toaster – with me.
1. Pack a snack. Actually pack a bag or two of snacks. My checked bag typically has granola (Udi’s is of course my favorite), some bars (Larabars or GoodGreens Bars), some nuts, and crackers. If I’m traveling to a hotel this is almost a necessity because I don’t really get the opportunity to venture anywhere but the airport, hotel, hotel, airport.
2. Make sure to have snacks in your carry on bag. I’ve learned this the hard way and have inevitably had to purchase the only gluten free option available in most airports – nuts at the Starbucks counter. Unless, of course, you are the Philadelphia International Aiport where they do not have a Starbucks. I know, I’ve asked – after wandering around looking for one. I am on a mission to get gluten free snacks available in Starbucks – I’d love to see an Udi’s gluten free cookie there. I’d buy one everytime. But, carry snacks, they’ll come in handy. And find me on twitter (@finding_joy) and tweet this message. 🙂
3. Be prepared to ask to meet the chef. Or don’t eat. I’ve just started asking to speak with the chef whereever I may eat. I really appreciate these opportunities. I’m able to talk about gluten free, and am also able to verify that what they are serving me is truly gluten free, and I’m able to be a face for those many gluten free requests that they must get. Make sure to watch out for hidden sources of gluten – luncheon meats, salad dressings, soy sauce, etc…and don’t be afraid to ask how an item was prepared. Is there a dedicated fryer? Is there a separate gluten free prep area. Those are questions that should and can be asked.
4. Expect that you won’t have much to eat. Unless I bring snacks or visit a grocery store I typically don’t get too much to eat when I travel. I will find a fabulous sushi restaurant and find great food there (again watch out for the soy sauce), but other then that the food selection is typically pretty light. Even though gluten free is becoming more well known, most hotels have a rather tepid gluten free selection to choose from. Do not be afraid to reach out to hotels – I follow up with hotels after visiting and talk about my experience with their food selection. If you don’t speak, they don’t learn – but be encouraging – that goes a long ways.
5. Did I mention pack a snack? I think I’ve hammered this point in enough. But, in case I haven’t, carry food with you. Always.
6. Prepare to talk about gluten free. When I travel it is honestly the times when I talk the most about being gluten free. On the Udi’s Gluten Free Community Boards I mentioned developing a one sentence explanation to why you are gluten free or, for me, what celiac disease truly is. Here’s mine: I eat gluten free because 2.5 years ago my son, Samuel, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune disease where the body cannot have any form of gluten – found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. Often most people ask for more information at this point – and this can be a great springboard for bringing awareness. I think the most often heard misconception for me is that eating gluten free is trendy or that someone with Celiac Disease can cheat – they cannot -ever. See that face below? I fight for him and for others who live a life where gluten destroys the body. There is no option of cheating – there is only gluten free.
7. Develop extra patience. Yes. It takes longer to get food, to check food, to wait for your food, to find staff to find your food, to search out food in the airport, etc.. There are some fabulous apps to help you navigate, but then again, I do like to verify that what I am eating is truly gluten free. You will find your patience stretched – as you sit at the table while others eat, while you look at your selection that is often less, and sometimes while you don’t get a meal til other are done. It’s part of bringing awareness. I’ve adopted an attitude of gratitude for all that they do give, for the extra steps they take, and I hope that posture of thanks encourages them to further their gluten free options.
8. Expect to eat a great deal of chicken. Along with extra patience expect a bunch of chicken served to you. Or salads. Lots and lots of salads and grilled vegetables and well, chicken. So sneak up to your room or find those nuts. The funny thing is that gluten free really can taste great (Udi’s motto) and I’d love to see more chefs, restaurants, and coffee shops embrace gluten free food.
9. Dwell on the good things. Sure, it can be challenging to be in a room where everyone else is eating fabulous looking food and delicious desserts, but in those moments think back to the health benefits of eating gluten free. I just have to remember those awful moments in the hospital with Samuel and the months before he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and how his body was shutting down. Eating gluten free saved him – and I will do whatever it takes to keep him healthy. My sweet son has taught me to embrace everything he can eat and not sit in looking at everything he cannot. And that goes way beyond living gluten free – it’s a life philosophy that I’ve learned by watching him be brave, watching him live life fully, and watching him thrive. It’s gratitude for the good.
So pass me an Udi’s Gluten Free Snickerdoodles. They’re my weakness, the gluten free kryptonite, and they’re amazing. If you want to chat more with me about gluten free, gluten free living, celiac disease, and find some fabulous recipes (not from me – ha – I’ll eat them) connect with me on the Udi’s Gluten Free Community. I truly am honored to be a part of their team. After Samuel was diagnosed I didn’t think I’d find normal, or enjoy bread again, and they proved me wrong. Find me there -> Udi’s Gluten Free Community.
And finally, since it’s Friday and these are favorite things – I’m going to share this sweet picture of Samuel, the little boy with Celiac Disease who is my hero, at the grocery store with me. Remember last week when I wrote about letting them push the cart? Well, my next words would be to let them ride in those blue carts. Just bring your hard sanitizer.
Want to join in on the Friday Favorite Things? This is week 106 of intentional gratitude. Simply share your favorite things from the week below, or write your own post (grab the button and add your link below and please spread the word). Gratitude is contagious, it’s a blessing, and a needed thing.
those snicker doodles really did blow my mind! 😉 I learned a lot at BEECH Retreat about Gluten Free
So, do you recommend I bring at least one snack along when I travel? 😉
Seriously, thanks for this great overview of trying to eat gluten-free while traveling. I have the added challenge of going dairy-free, so I can’t even have Udi’s cookies (though their cinnamon-raisin bread is safe, thank the Lord).
Thank you so much for this and for being a voice. My one sentence explanation: Though I have not officially been diagnosed with Celiac disease, I am gluten free because, after years of digestive issues that kept getting worse, just one week of completely eliminating gluten in my diet proved to me this was a lifestyle change I needed to make for my own health. The tips and advice you’ve offered here have been an amazing resource and encouragement to me.
Samuel just might have an apple juice addiction…kinda goes with your coffee one! ;o)
These words give such hope. Praying!
John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
My email address
Thank you for this…My Father was diagnosed w/ Celiac last fall so I have been learning a lot more about it. I’ve passed your site on for reference, and this article will be helpful as they travel a lot!
I need to link up for another Friday, :), it’s been a while. I always enjoy your encouraging words and great photos.
PS I DM (tweeted) you when I was having my son evaluated for possible celiac as well, and appreciated your reply. Turns out he is NOT celiac, we are thankful, but still so appreciated your helpfulness!!
Always here praying!
Isaiah 63:7-9: I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
My email address
I am new to your blog. My SIL sent me a link to your blog because I have Celiac disease. I have already been encouraged by your words! My favorite snack to get when traveling are the KIND Healthy Bars, http://www.kindsnacks.com. All the Starbucks in my area-Indiana- carry them, so that is what I have with my lattes. I love them as much as an Udi’s snickerdoodle! I look forward to following your blog!
Try Liz Lovely GF cookies too! I am not GF and love them!
Found your blog tonight, love it, bookmarked it. Thanks for being awesome today!
This is a very informative blog for people with gluten intolerance. It creates awareness about the do’s and don’ts when travelling “gluten free”. Avoiding gluten is a lot of hard work since it is a prototype of an average American diet. It is present in almost any kind of food. Thank you so much for these useful tips.
New to the blog. Udi’s is good BUT if yall want something better, you have to try Gluten Free Cutie’s Cinnamon Streusel bread or their cupcakes. TO DIE FOR! Allergy friendly besides just “gluten free”
Allergy friendly as in:
1. Dairy free, soy free, peanut free, tree nut free (use coconut milk to make them dairy free), egg free, & artificial dye free. Also, one of my co-workers developed an allergy to corn so now we also have numerous corn free goodies as well. Also carry sugar free items too.
We are located in Roswell, GA and yes, we do ship. 🙂
– James Dorsey
Co-owner of G.F.C.
PS It would be an honor for Starbucks to carry our stuff so we can serve the public with other food allergies besides Gluten.
I’m a mom who is gluten free because three of my kiddos have Celiac Disease. The picture of your little guy brought tears to my eyes because this is why we do this. I loved your encouraging words and words of respect for your son. It’s just how I feel about my little heroes. They put up with so much in this gluten-y world and still enjoy being kids.
How do you convince airport security to let you take food in your carry-on? They don’t allow ANYTHING past security at my airport, regardless of what it is or why you have it.
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We flew to Hawaii and made sure the airline knew that my husband needed gluten free meals. All was well flying to Hawaii. On the way back, however, I was wondering why the flight attendant did not bring him a GF meal before serving the rest of us. I was told I had to confirm a special meal on the return flight. Really? I was never told this–why would I need a GF meal only one way?? I still think it was a screw-up on their end. Fourteen hours is a long time to fly with just GF snacks (which I had on me)! Luckily between the “normal” two meals, I was able to trade so he had something to eat.