Spring break is coming up soon, and regardless if you are a teen or college-aged gluten-free guy or gal traveling for the first time, or if you’re slightly older like I am, it’s good to know how to travel gluten-free.


My number one rule is to always err on the side of caution. You never know when you are going to have to resort to your reserves instead of risking it on unsafe food. On one of my last trips, I visited a restaurant that assured me multiple times it was safe, but every test wiht my Nima Sensor (more on this to follow) showed that it wasn’t safe at all. Not quite a vacation if you have to end up eating gluten-free bars and protein shakes out of your suitcase – but I was safe, and that’s all that mattered to me.

gluten-free suitcase

Celiac and the Beast

When packing for a gluten-free trip, bring food that you wouldn’t mind eating in lieu of a meal. Remember – one cannot survive on gluten-free cookies alone. At the time of packing the suitcase, I thought that having 10 chocolate bars was a good idea, until I didn’t have dinner one night and all I had was chocolate. Not quite the meal I was looking for.


If you can afford any extra baggage fees (or if you fly Southwest airlines that doesn’t charge you for luggage), pack an extra suitcase just for food. Keep in mind that this bag will have to be checked – so make sure that the suitcase is sturdy enough to get through rough baggage handling without crushing its contents.


Things to pack in your checked baggage:

  • Loaf of gluten-free bread and toaster bags (so you can use hotel toasters safely without cross-contamination)
  • Full jar of peanut butter or other nut butter packed full of protein
  • Squeezable baby food/fruit packets
  • Gluten-free protein mix and a shaker for easy-to-make meal replacement shakes, or ready-to-drink meal replacement shakes.
  • Gluten-free jerky for on-the-go protein – just be careful as many meat snacks have soy sauce in them.
  • Packets of gluten-free instant oatmeal that you can make using any hotel room’s coffee pot
  • Gluten-free treats like cookies and brownies – even if you find a safe meal on the road or at an event, rarely do they also stock gluten-free desserts so bring your own


You never know when there will be airport delays for an ungodly amount of time. Pack more food than you think you will need in your carry-on luggage – both ways! Remember, if you have any liquids (including those adorable snack packets of peanut butter), they will have to be under 3oz. and have to fit in the TSA quart size bag. Try to carry protein and hearty food that can tide you over through a long flight or a long wait (hopefully not both).


Things to pack in your carry-on luggage:

  • Empty water bottle so you can avoid high-priced bottled water after the security checkpoints, and stay hydrated during your trip
  • Protein-packed bars
  • Small squeeze packs of peanut butter/almond butter in your liquids bag (yes, I’ve heard TSA horror stories about peanut butter, so consider it a liquid)
  • Pre-made sandwich like a nut butter that won’t go bad if not refrigerated (unlike a turkey sandwich, unless you plan on eating as soon as you get to the airport)
  • Fresh washed and chopped fruit in plastic bags – making it easy to eat on the plane without having seeds, pits or peels leftover with no where to toss your trash. 
  • A Nima Sensor gluten detection device that analyzes food to see if the sample is celiac safe or not, assisting in your decision to eat out at restaurnats, airports, etc.

Since I’m sensitive to dairy and a few other items, I bring digestive enzymes with me wherever I go. Although these will not help anyone with celiac disease eating gluten (because cheating is always a no-no), they can potentially help if you get accidentally cross-contaminated during your trip. I personally use Tummy Drops ginger candies to keep my wits about me if I get nauseated or uncomfortable on the plane.


Remember to always research your final destination in advance, make those calls and check those menus. That way, you can have an easier time once you’ve reached your destination!


In the end, make sure the thing you always pack is FUN! Being gluten-free can’t keep you from having an awesome vacation, and an awesome spring break!