Gluten-Free Packing Tips for the 21st Century

When it’s time to board a flight to a much-needed vacation destination, a gluten-free packing strategy for packing the right foods and tools goes a long way to relieving anxiety.

A trip to the store solely for snack foods and ready-to-eat meals that will keep hunger away during the flight and once you arrive is paramount. No need to be caught off guard and unnecessarily hungry if your flight gets delayed or for a layover.

Here are our best tips for enjoying a safe and tasty flight full of gluten-free food and relaxation. 


If possible, ask to pre-board the flight and use antibacterial wipes to clean the seat, seatbelt, armrests and tray table. Germs are everywhere, but so are crumbs from whatever the person before you consumed, which may have contained gluten. Start the flight free from the anxiety of transferring gluten to your hands and the gluten-free food you have packed.

Research it: Airport restaurants, grab-and-go food and snacks

A quick search for gluten-free options at the airport is a must. You might be surprised what you find and can nosh on before your flight. Depending on the length of the flight, it may be a good idea to eat a full meal, and it can’t hurt to grab an extra snack or two before boarding.


Pack it: Foods and tools to pack in your carry-on

I pack a full meal in my carry-on complete with dessert to keep me full during the flight. I keep it fresh by packing a sandwich, hard boiled eggs, fruit, pretzels and a homemade muffin. Delta Airlines offers gluten-free snack mix from Pretzel Perfection and Kind Bars, but not all airlines are as accommodating. Make sure to also pack reusable utensils, napkins, condiments and a reusable water bottle that gets filled before boarding, because it can take a while before beverage service begins. 

Pack it: Foods to pack in your suitcase

Packing isn’t just about what foods to pack and eat during the flight; it also is about what you are going to eat once you land. Pack foods that travel well and can tide you over until you get to the hotel. Start with shelf-stable options like cereal, nuts (I put these in my suitcase because the chances of a passenger being allergic to nuts is high), protein bars, jerky and dried fruit. Packing instant soup cups, ready-to-eat-meals, snack packs, instant oatmeal and a loaf of your favorite bread along with nut butter and jelly packs equals perfection when you must eat in the hotel room because jet lag has taken you down and you aren’t up to going out to eat. Also remember to pack resealable bags and bag clips to keep food from going stale or spilling.

Pack it: Over-the-counter medicine

It is easy to get caught up with food packing and forget to pack those needed over-the-counter medicines. Make sure your carry-on includes pain relievers, eye drops, inhalers, sinus pills, anti-nausea medicine, motion sickness medicine, cough drops, etc. Traveling to another time zone and climate can trigger an allergy or asthma attack with coughing or itchy eyes. And, if the flight has been turbulent, motion sickness medicine can save the day. Wearing a pair of acupressure wrist bands can also alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness. Those resealable bags also come in handy to create an ice pack if motion sickness medicine fails. Put an ice pack on the back of your neck, recline, turn up the air and relax as the nausea fades away.


My carry-on also includes a sleep mask, soft jacket, ear buds, phone charger and a book in case I can’t find a movie to watch or, gasp, the flight doesn’t have movies. Coming prepared to the airport starts the trip out on the right foot and ensures you arrive relaxed and ready to create memories.

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