20 Gluten Free Travel Tips

Traveling can be a fun and fulfilling experience, offering opportunities for cultural immersion, adventure, and relaxation. Unfortunately for people like me living with celiac disease, traveling poses some unique challenges that can transform an exciting trip into a stressful ordeal. The anxiety and lack of control can overshadow the joy and excitement of taking a trip.

Traveling gluten free is a bit more complicated and requires addition planning, but with preparation, it can be a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. 

Here are gluten free travel tips to help you navigate the world with celiac disease.

Road Trip Tips

1. Book a Place with a Kitchen: When choosing a place to stay, prioritize places with a kitchen. I usually prefer to rent a home rather than a hotel room. However, even having a hotel room with a mini-fridge, microwave or electric tea kettle can make traveling gluten free much easier. This allows you to store snacks, refrigerate leftovers, prepare your own meals and have better control over your diet. I’ve found this to be a game-changer, as it reduces my reliance on finding suitable restaurants and helps reduce my stress around traveling  on a gluten-free diet.


2. Bring Cooking Supplies: I’ve learned from my experiences traveling gluten free that bringing my own pot, pan, and spatula is essential. This simple step significantly reduces the risk of cross-contamination and allows me to make meals without worrying about getting sick. It might feel odd packing a spatula for a road trip, but trust me, it’s a lifesaver.


3. Plan Your Route: Before setting off, I spend some time researching and planning my route. My goal is to pinpoint gluten-free restaurants along the way and use these spots as safe meal stops. It adds fun and excitement to my trip because I really enjoy eating at a new dedicated gluten free restaurant. This is where having a refrigerator at your destination comes in handy. You can order a dessert, or even an extra meal and store it overnight at your hotel room. For me, this relieves the stress of wondering where my next meal will come from.


4. Always Pack Fun Snacks: Part of the joy of a road trip is the munching in the car and on-the-go snacks. Before each trip, I spend an afternoon baking and/or cooking tasty gluten-free snacks. A couple easy snacks to make are Krusteaz Gluten Free blueberry muffins and Krusteaz Gluten Free Cinnamon Swirl. Not only does this ensure I always have something safe and delicious to munch on during the journey, but it also adds a personal and fun touch to the trip.


Road trips with celiac disease can require a little extra planning and thought. But these road trip tips have made my traveling much more enjoyable and less stressful. Road trips should be an exciting time. Use these strategies, to put fun and adventure back in your life while maintaining a gluten-free diet.

Airline Travel Tips

5. Request a Gluten-Free Meal: Many airlines offer gluten-free meal options, especially on international flights. Request a gluten free meal when booking your ticket, and I recommend confirming the meal about 7-10 days before your flight. If you get on the plane and have any doubts about your gluten free meal, listen to your gut and skip it.

Getting glutened is a horrible way to start a trip, and having symptoms in flight can be very uncomfortable. A recent example of this happened to 25 year old Chloë Chapdelaine on a flight from Dubai to Los Angeles. It appears she did everything right and was still glutened by a croissant. The gluten filled croissant was accidentally placed on a tray labeled “gluten free” and served to her.

6. Always Pack Snacks!: Despite the best preparations, there can be mix-ups with meal orders and there aren’t a lot of solutions in flight. For this reason I recommend packing snacks in both your carry-on bags and your checked luggage. Following TSA guidelines on food can make this process smooth and easy.

It’s important to know that both carry-on and checked bags can include many food items, with carry-on luggage being more restricted due to the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Also, the rules can vary with international travel so check the specific food regulations of your destination country as well. 

Carrying on foods like baked goods, sandwiches and whole fruits can relieve a lot of stress in case delays or other airport mishaps occur.

Packing your own snacks and meals can relieve a lot of stress when traveling with celiac disease. In addition being aware of TSA guidelines can ensure a smooth experience going through security.

7. Carry on A Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is always important, but especially when stressed about traveling gluten free. Bring an empty reusable water bottle and fill it up once you get through security. Fill it up as needed to ensure you have plenty of water for your entire journey. The idea here is to stay healthy by preventing dehydration and other stressors on your body. 

8. Bring Probiotics: Long flights, changing time zones and stress around flying can upset our GI tract. Like bringing water above, the reason for bringing gluten free probiotics is to help keep your body in homeostasis and to support overall gut health.

9. Bring Medications: Carry on important medications so that you will have access to them in case of delays. Keeping medications within reach can alleviate stress and help prevent non-gluten related incidents from negatively affecting your overall well-being while traveling.

Always Plan Ahead

Whether you’re traveling by plane or taking a road trip, traveling gluten free is a bit more complicated and requires addition preparation for people with celiac disease. The saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail” rings particularly true, especially when it comes to safely traveling gluten free.

Over the years, I’ve picked up some tips and strategies that help me decrease my anxiety around trips. These tips help ensure that my travels are as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Here’s how I plan ahead for successful gluten-free traveling.

10. Always bring snacks! You never know what can go wrong when traveling. Having access to food can make you more flexible and turn a big problem into a minor inconvenience. For road trips I like to bake my own snacks ahead of time and for other trips I always make sure to pack gluten-free bars, granola and gummies. Ensuring I have a quick and safe option to stave off hunger helps me make good decisions about food. For me, bringing snacks is essential, but that doesn’t mean I have to carry bags with enough food to feed myself for the entire trip. Planning ahead can make it easier to eat comfortably while traveling.

11. Research Restaurants: To minimize stress, I spend time before my trip researching dedicated gluten-free restaurants near my destination. Even finding one completely safe place to eat can make my trip more enjoyable. It’s also a good idea to make reservations at the restaurant, if possible.

12. Make Food an Experience: With celiac disease, finding safe food can feel negative or like a hassle sometimes. When traveling gluten free, I’ve found that embracing my need for safe food can add elements of excitement and adventure. Since dedicated gluten free bakeries and restaurants are hard to find, the search can lead me to places I might not have visited otherwise. Along with finding delicious meals, I often encounter delightful experiences.

13. Communicate Ahead of Your Visit: I’ve found that communicating about my dietary requirements ahead of time is very helpful with restaurants, hotels and other locations. Some are willing to accommodate these needs once they are aware of them. For others, it’s better to find out ahead of time so I can make other arrangements for meals.

14. Don’t Over Schedule: With celiac disease I’ve learned that flexibility is important for my mental health and my physical well being. This is why I recommend that you do not overschedule your trip. Sometimes plans will need to be changed so having time to spare is essential. Overall, giving yourself time to find and enjoy gluten-free food options contributes to a more relaxed and enjoyable travel experience.

15. Download Translation Dining Cards: When traveling abroad translation dining cards are a lifesaver in countries where English isn’t widely spoken. The cards come in many languages and explain dietary needs and cross contamination on a card you can hand your server. This can help prevent mistakes by ensuring the message gets across clearly when ordering food.

16. Pack Ziplock Bags: I have learned the hard way that I always seem to need extra bags while traveling. A few Ziplock bags can save the day if I need to take a gluten free muffin with me, or if I need to store gluten free food in the mini fridge at the hotel. I’ve also learned to bring reusable grocery bags for grocery shopping at local markets or carrying my gluten-free finds while exploring.

You Made it!

Arriving at a new destination is always a mix of excitement and uncertainty. Since being diagnosed with celiac disease, I’ve developed some strategies over the years to set myself up for a successful gluten-free stay. Here are my tips for gluten-free travelers on what to do when you arrive at your destination. Keep in mind that preparation is key, but so is being flexible and making the most of what’s available.

17. Assess Your Accommodations: Go to your hotel room, Airbnb, or other accommodation to assess what is at your disposal and what you might need. The main concerns for me are whether the room has a fridge, a microwave or even an electric tea kettle. Is there a coffee maker that could heat water for use in instant gluten-free meals? Understanding what’s available helps me plan my meals and makes the next step easier… going to the grocery store.

18. Go Grocery Shopping: One of the first things I do after settling into my room is to find a nearby grocery store. I stock up on gluten-free foods that I can use for meals and snacks during my trip. Assessing my accommodations (see above) before taking a trip to the grocery store helps me purchase a wider variety of foods. Not only does this save me time and stress, but it also provides a fun way to learn about local gluten-free products that I’ve never heard of.

19. Eat a Warm Breakfast: I’ve discovered that enjoying a warm gluten-free breakfast significantly improves my outlook on the day ahead. While vacationing at an Airbnb in Big Bear, California, I put my personal pan and spatula to good use, creating delicious breakfasts each morning complemented by a cup of gluten free instant coffee. I noticed that within a couple days, the prospect of waking up to these home-cooked breakfasts made me excited to get out of bed in the morning. Another reason I recommend making yourself breakfast, even if it’s instant oatmeal with berries on top, is to ensure that you have fuel for heading out to explore.

20. Pack A Small Lunch: While traveling, I make it a habit to pack a small gluten-free lunch before heading out for the day. Being in a new place introduces uncertainty around food, but this strategy provides the assurance that I’ll have safe food to eat, no matter where my travels take me.

My final gluten free traveling tip is to Enjoy Yourself! Celiac disease can be difficult and isolating at times so it’s important to have fun when you can. 

Keep in mind that preparation is key, but so is being flexible and making the most of what’s available.