Eating Gluten Free on the Road | Rachel Begun, MS, RD

Happy 4th of July!  While Independence Day refers to the historic day our nation won it’s freedom, this day is also the official start of summer, when families have independence from work and school to set out and travel.

As we hit the roads and airways to get to the destinations of our choice, those of us on a gluten free diet have a little more to think about as we pack up our bags.  Along with our clothes and cosmetics, we need to carry food with us to ensure we can eat safely during transport and at our destination.  With the warmer weather of summer, we have to think about more than just gluten free food safety.  Preventing food borne illness is also important.

Here are my tips for eating healthfully and happily during your summer vacation:

1) Plan a trip to a gluten free friendly destination.   Friends and members of your local support group are an excellent resource for identifying gluten-free friendly cities and countries. Another great resource is, which includes reviews from gluten free travelers for hotels, resorts, restaurants and more.  Better yet, the founder of, Karen Broussard, recently wrote a blog post summarizing the Ten Easiest Places to Travel Gluten Free based on the many reviews on her site.

Gluten Free Travel Destinations

Washington, DC is not only a popular summer destination for families, it is gluten free friendly

2) While your hotel, resort or host’s household may be gluten free friendly, it’s likely you’ll be out and about sight-seeing and doing activities during the day.  This is most likely when you can find yourself without a gluten free option.  Plan ahead by shipping or bringing with you gluten free staples that you can eat throughout your stay.  Gluten free granola and energy bars, peanut butter and crackers, trail mixes, popcorn and corn chips are all great options to keep you fueled during long, active days.

Make flavored popcorn ahead of time to bring with you

3) If staying at a hotel or resort, ask them to provide you with a mini refrigerator when making your reservation.  Or, look for a hotel that provides suites with a mini kitchen.  You can shop at a local market to stock the fridge with perishable gluten free items to add variety to your options, such as fruits, veggies, yogurt, cheese sticks/slices, cold cuts and hummus.  Doing this also allows you greater control of what you are eating, both from a gluten free and health perspective.  It’s also a great way to keep food costs down while away.  Eating every meal at a restaurant or cafe can be expensive.

Most hotels can accommodate providing a mini refrigerator

4) When traveling, it is extremely important to keep your gluten free foods safe from growing bacteria and to make sure you have enough to get you there.  Foods out of the 40 – 140 degree safety zone for more than two hours are not safe to eat and must be thrown out  When temperatures go above 90 degrees, the window of safety drops to only one hour.  Summertime road traffic and delayed air travel can make a two hour trip much longer, especially if road ways close or flights are cancelled.  I highly recommend carrying a portable insulated cooler with you.  This will keep your food safe and allow you to eat more than just energy bars and trail mix.  You can refreeze cooler packs at your destination and use them again for the trip home.  For more information about food safety visit

Portable coolers are great for getting you to your destination and will likely be used during your trip, too!

Enjoy your independence, on July 4th and all summer long!


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