5 Tips for Traveling While Paleo
Have you ever had to travel with food restrictions? Sometimes, it’s not an easy task. It takes some research ahead of time, sometimes A LOT of research. Last year, for spring break, our family did a tour through the British Isles. What we found was that overseas, they tend to be not as up to date with food allergies and specific diet plans as we are here in America. Not that gluten free or vegan or whatever you might be isn’t available, it’s just not as prominent there as it is here and must be sought out. Here in the U.S., it’s not usually as hard to deal with.
By now you know that I eat predominately Paleo. While traveling, what I try to stick to is staying gluten free and dairy free. I also limit my grains (rice and corn) but I don’t stress if a food contains it. Unless we’re in Mexico, where corn is so prominent, that I toss that restriction out the window. Because who can resist homemade corn tortillas or the tamales that little abuelas make and sell on street corners? I mean, I have to help support those families, right? Mexico is great though for staying gluten free. Their cuisine is so corn based that I don’t usually have a hard time eating down there. Order some chicken fajitas or carne asada and you’ve got yourself one heck of a meal!
So here’s a few tips I’ve learned while traveling to make eating Paleo away from home more manageable.
Tip #1: Consider staying in a hotel with a kitchen. My parents own a couple of timeshares with different companies so a big perk of traveling for me is that most of the hotels or resorts we go to have full kitchens in the room. This makes it SO much easier because we can cook anything we want for any meal. We usually pack certain foods with us that we know we can eat (my mom is gluten free as well) and will hit a grocery store when we get there for additional items. There’s been a couple of times where a restaurant doesn’t have much available within my diet plan or the options they do have just don’t appeal to me (I’m not a huge seafood or egg fan). Having a kitchen allows me to go back to my room and cook something later. It also helps us save money and eat better! We don’t have to eat out every meal. We usually will cook most breakfasts in our room before heading out to whatever activity we have planned for the day. And let’s face it, eating out all the time is not great for the waistline! I know that I, for one, eat way more than I should when eating out. Cooking in our room helps me be more conscious of the quantity and quality of food I am consuming.
So, that’s tip 1 for traveling while Paleo. You don’t need to be a timeshare owner to stay in places that have kitchens. There are literally thousands of options that anyone can book at any time. Consider AirBNB, a Homewood Suites, or Staybridge. While in Britian, we stayed at a StayCity in both London and Dublin, which were apartment-like hotels with two bedrooms and kitchens. It still had a front desk and all the amenities of a hotel (unlike using AirBNB). This worked out perfect for our family!
Tip #2: Have a grocery store deliver groceries to your hotel. Even if you’re unable to book a room with a kitchen, many hotels can provide at least a mini frig and microwave. Have a local grocery store deliver foods you can eat that don’t require a lot of cooking. Fresh fruits, gluten free breakfast burritos, yogurt, and even eggs are easy breakfast foods you can prepare in your room with just a microwave. Lunchmeat, gluten free crackers, and salads are just some of the lunch items you could consider. Most major grocery stores deliver now and I have personally had both Kroger and Safeway deliver to me while on vacation. It’s amazing, especially if you don’t have a car available! Even Whole Foods now delivers with their partnership with InstaCart and Amazon!
Tip #3: Pack food in both your carry-on and luggage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in an airport with nothing more than McDonald’s available to me! Pack snacks to tide you over! Even if your trip is only supposed to be a 2 hour plane ride away, you never know if you’ll be diverted to Nowheresville, Idaho and that 2 hour plane ride turns into 14 hours (yes, this IS a personal experience!). But there are also major airports that have few options for the gluten free/Paleo traveler (I’m looking at you, La Guardia!). Be prepared. We also pack food in our luggage to make in the hotel. Simple Mills Pancake Mix, rice, and nuts almost always make an appearance in our baggage.
Tip #4: Research, research, research. I ALWAYS look for restaurants in the area I am traveling to ahead of time. There are some awesome websites out there that give lists of gluten free & allergy friendly restaurants in different cities around the world. NoBread is one of my favorite. If you haven’t checked her out, I highly recommend you do. I used her guide for London quite a bit on my last trip as well as her NYC guide last month! Tripadvisor is wonderful for that too, especially if you’re not headed to a major city. Tripadvisor gives helpful advice, even in smaller towns, by tapping into local resident advice. Get a list of popular restaurants in whatever area you’re headed to, then check out their websites! Many restaurants, even locally owned ones, post allergy information on their websites nowadays. It SO helpful! There are also apps that help you find gluten free restaurants in whatever area you happen to be in. Check out AllergyEats Mobile or Find Me Gluten Free. And bonus, they’re both FREE apps!
Tip #5: Speak up! Just because a restaurant may not have a written allergy friendly menu, that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t try to accommodate you. For many years, Disney didn’t have a separate gluten free menu but that was because they wanted the customer interaction. A chef would always come out and walk me through their menu to build me a custom-made meal I still dream about. Don’t be afraid to tell your waiter your needs. I’m sure they’ll do their best to provide you the best dining experience they can! If you’re overseas, you can even print out a card with allergy restrictions written in other languages HERE.
With a bit of preparation, traveling while Paleo can be manageable! What are some of your tips for allergy-friendly travel? Do you have anything special you’ve found makes travel a bit more easy? Share it with us in the comments below!
My favorite travel snacks and packables: