Make gluten-free fall or holiday travel easier by renting an apartment and packing these gluten-free essentials.
Looking to plan some fall or holiday gluten-free travel? Whether you’re going close or far, there are several tips that will help make the trip easier and cheaper, starting with your choice of accommodations. Instead of booking a hotel room, consider renting an apartment or house through Airbnb or VRBO.
When you book an apartment, rather than a hotel room, you’ll be able to more safely control your own food, preparing your own gluten-free meals and saving money in the process.
When renting a property, check to see if it is for the entire home (you have the whole apartment/house), a private room (one or two rooms in a bigger apartment/house) or a shared room (guests sleep in the same room or common area shared with others — yikes, personally not my style). If it is for the entire place, you will have access to a kitchen; if it is a private room you may not have kitchen access.
If you have kitchen access, you will be able to eat breakfast at home, pack to-go lunches for excursions and prepare some dinners. Eating breakfast at home is particularly a money-saver, as it’s quick, easy and cheap to prepare cereal, eggs or yogurt at home before you head out for the day.
If you have young kids, it’s much easier to feed them at home where they can run around a bit, rather than going to yet another restaurant and trying to enforce restaurant behavior during your vacation. Also, another bonus to Airbnb or VRBO is that your rental property might have laundry facilities, which is extremely helpful for kids who seem to generate dirty clothes every other minute.
If you have access to a washer/dryer, you can pack fewer clothes, knowing that you’ll wash them at some point. But while you might save luggage space on clothes, you might need to use that space to bring gluten-free supplies with you.
If you are driving to your destination, pack the car with some of these items that will make your gluten-free vacation easier. If you are flying, then you might need to pick and choose which items fit in your luggage. It’s always a pain to pay the airline fees for checked baggage, but it might be worth it to pay the fee to bring items that will make your trip easier.
GF Safety Supplies to Take From Home
A rental will come with a kitchen stocked with pots and pans. Most of this equipment should be fine for you to use, as long as you wash each item thoroughly before you use it. But consider taking the following items from home to make your stay easier.
— Colander. Bits of gluten-containing pasta can get stuck in a regular colander. Take a dedicated gluten-free colander to rinse pasta and fruit/veggies. These pop-up collapsible colanders are nice, because they are lightweight and they collapse flat for packing.
— Cutting board. Cutting boards are always on the watch list, as gluten can be harbored in the cracks and cuts on the board. It comes down to a personal choice: You might be OK using a shared cutting board if it’s been cleaned thoroughly, or you might be more comfortable bringing your own. If you want to pack your own, look for a thin, flexible plastic cutting board mat that’s lightweight and easy to pack.
— Frying pan/skillet (for driving trips, not flying). While it is too heavy to bring on a plane trip, if you are driving to your destination, you might want to throw a frying pan into your trunk. While you should be able to use the pots and pans at the rental, some pans that we’ve encountered simply don’t look clean enough for our standards. Always wash any rental cooking dish or utensil with dish soap before you use it. If you use a baking pan, clean it thoroughly and line it well with aluminum foil or parchment paper. If you are worried about encountering bits of burned gluten on a pan, then go ahead and bring your own skillet and use it for eggs, pancakes and cooking meat or veggies.
— Sponge. Don’t use the dish sponge at the rental, as it might have bits of food on it from a previous renter. Pack a new sponge or buy one at your destination. Or, although it’s not eco-friendly, you can use paper towels to wash dishes instead of a sponge.
— Kitchen supplies. You might want to bring or buy these items for your stay: aluminum foil for lining baking pans, zip-top baggies to pack sandwiches and snacks, dishwasher pods (more convenient to travel with than liquid) for the dishwasher and laundry soap pods for the clothes washer.
— Sharpie marker. We always find it helpful to have a Sharpie permanent market on hand to write a big “GF only” note on food packages, especially if we are sharing items with family or friends and we want them to keep out.
GF Food to Bring on Vacation
It should be easy to buy some basics at your destination, like milk, eggs, fruit, veggies, meat, cheese and nuts (if tolerated). But you might want to bring some gluten-free specialty items with you.
— Gluten-free cookies, pretzels, crackers and other snack foods. These may be hard to find in a small-town or neighborhood grocery store, so bring them with you.
— Gluten-free granola bars or protein bars. It’s always good to have portable snacks on hand for sustaining you when you’re on the go, whether you’re on the plane, visiting a museum or hiking a local trail.
— Gluten-free bread. It may be hard to find gluten-free bread where you’re going, or you might not be able to find the brand that you like. If you’re driving, toss in a loaf of gluten-free bread in the car. If you’re flying, the bread might be too hard to pack and crumble in the process.
— Gluten-free oatmeal packets. These are easy to pack and good to have on hand for a quick and healthy breakfast. If you are spending a night in a hotel, gluten-free oatmeal is a good option to have in your room in the morning (just add hot water from the coffee maker) or to bring down to the hotel breakfast. Make sure that the oats are purity protocol oats or certified gluten-free.
— Gluten-free pasta. Pasta is an easy meal that’s quick to whip up in a rental apartment (just bring your gluten-free colander). It might be hard to find gluten-free pasta in a neighborhood store at your destination, so bring a box of your favorite brand with you.
— Gluten-free pancake mix. This is an optional item that could be fun to bring, although it’s certainly not necessary. If you are staying in a rental home with family, it’s fun to cook up a big pancake breakfast that everyone can enjoy on the weekend.
Packing these items is a bit of an extra hassle. But having some safe supplies on hand for your rental apartment will make your vacation go more smoothly and safely gluten-free.Originally posted September 2018