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About a month ago, I headed out with my family on a little road trip to the Oregon Coast. We stayed in Seaside, OR for 4 days/3 nights and really enjoyed a little getaway over spring break. It’s always interesting traveling with food intolerances – I’ve even blogged about it before here. But as I was packing and being there, I realized I had more I needed to be mindful of. Maybe it’s one of those things that changes every time I travel, or maybe it’s because every trip has different accommodations so I need to change my mentality around it. Either way, I have a few new tips to share with you today on staying gluten-free and dairy-free while traveling.
On this trip, we had access to a little kitchenette in our hotel room. We hadn’t planned on using it, but in the days leading it up the trip, I realized I needed to probably get a little more organized with my thinking and figure out what I was going to eat ahead of time. Being that my family eats gluten and dairy (and eggs) with no problems, breakfast is especially challenging for me. They can eat really anything they want any time of day, and I often feel like the odd one out at restaurants.
This trip, I decided that instead of just going for it and dealing with the repercussions (something that happens most times I travel in some shape or form), I was determined to stick with feeling my best – and that meant being prepared for just about anything. I packed more than I usually do, and was able to stay with it – despite even going to a cheese factory and watching them both eat cheese samples and ice cream!
Here are five things that I did for this family vacation to stay on track with my gluten-free dairy-free diet:
1. Stock up on healthy snacks before you go.
I loaded up at Trader Joe’s with loads of gluten-free dairy-free snacks for travel like gluten-free pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter puffs, Chomps sticks, and Larabars. I also packed a bunch of bananas, mandarin oranges, and even peanut butter cups. It’s all about balance, right? Gotta throw the vegan peanut butter cups in there with the fruit so I don’t feel too bad – haha!
I get a little more lax around food when we travel, so I try to bring things that feel like treats to us so it’s something we get excited about. And a side bonus? We wind up going out for dessert (ice cream) less often knowing that we have something already. We did go to a gelato place in Seaside one evening – and I was lucky enough to find that they had multiple options for dairy-free gelato! I had the limoncello and it was yummy!
2. Bring your own breakfast.
We packed some Puffins cereal and a carton of shelf-stable coconut milk that I put in the fridge when we got there. We also had instant oatmeal. Our hotel had bowls, spoons, and a microwave in the room, so this worked out perfectly. I didn’t wind up eating oatmeal, but my son did – and it saved us a little money going out for breakfast in a tourist town.
The last thing I did was packed some gluten-free dairy-free protein powder (I’ve been using the vanilla Orgain brand recently) to mix with the coconut milk I packed. I brought a mason jar with a lid so I could combine the two and shake it together. I find breakfast to be the most challenging on a gluten and dairy-free diet (because I’m also egg-free), so I thought this would be useful – but I wound up only using it one of the days we were gone.
3. Pack your own creamer for coffee.
I found some powdered coconut milk creamer (not the exact ones, but these are similar) at my local grocery store. I was able to stir that into drip coffee at the diner we went to one of the mornings, and another morning that I ordered a drip coffee from a coffee shop. It was a good alternative to having to drink it black (which doesn’t always suit my stomach very well). Another great idea here is to bring single servings of almond milk that are shelf-stable, but I didn’t do that on this trip.
4. Embrace the salad – nix the cheese, croutons, and breading.
I was a little disappointed that many of the options I had were salads at most places we ate out at. But salads really are the easiest way to stay gluten and dairy-free in my experience. One day for lunch, I had a yummy harvest salad that I was easily able to ask for no blue cheese and not eat the side of bread. Luckily, it had grilled chicken, so it was high in protein (something I feel like I miss out on without dairy) and it actually made me eat my veggies on vacation (something not always so easy to do).
Whenever I order salad, I make sure that whatever the protein is doesn’t have any breading or isn’t fried (usually a sign of gluten). Grilled or sauted is best (as long as it’s not sauted in butter). Then I make sure to ask for no cheese, croutons, or anything else that’s fried – like fried onion straws. Finally, check that the dressing is a vinaigrette and not something cream-based, like ranch. Vinaigrettes and salsa are always a good bet when ordering salads.
One meal I ate at a restaurant was a taco salad. I ordered it without cheese, and luckily it came with guacamole (hello healthy fats!), sour cream, and salsa on the side. I just skipped adding the sour cream, added the guacamole and salsa – and made sure to skip the shell that it came in, because it wasn’t clear to me if it was corn or flour. I was filled up – and felt fine that night and the next day!
5. Pack digestive enzymes.
I made sure to pack digestive enzymes for “‘just in case.” There are two routes you can go with digestive enzymes – those that you take before a meal and those you take after. For more info, I talk more about digestive enzymes here.
For this trip, I packed both Source Naturals Essential Enzymes (taken at the start of a meal) and Papaya Enzymes (best taken after a meal). While they aren’t an insurance policy, I’m glad I packed them, because one of the salads that I ordered on our trip, I forgot to ask for them to leave off the cheese and wasn’t able to pick it all out by hand. Luckily, I didn’t have any issues, but I was so glad I took the enzyme to help me digest a little better with foods I don’t normally tolerate well.
My husband swears by the Papaya Enzymes right now, while I find the best support from the Essential Enzymes taken at the beginning of a meal. Honestly, I don’t know if they work great – but when I took them on this trip, I never felt terrible – so I’m calling it a win in my book.
That’s all I have for you in this post. If you have any big trip coming up, I hope this helps you get prepared for sticking with your gluten and dairy-free diet. And if you have any amazing travel tips or tricks for staying gluten and dairy-free, be sure to share them in the comments below!
If you loved this post, be sure to check out my other 5 tips on traveling on a gluten-free dairy-free diet and my 21 best gluten-free dairy-free snack ideas from the store:
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