Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tips for surviving a NON Gluten-Free Home or Vacation

Tips for surviving a NON Gluten-Free Home or Vacation

We had a great question come up at our Support Meeting and I thought it was worth passing on to you.  "How do you survive a vacation or visit with family or friends who not only DON'T have a Gluten-Free home...but who don't even have any clue about what Gluten-Free is about??"

Well, I have to admit that I've been there and done that one too.  I love my family and friends...they're very much aware of my issues with Gluten and they really do try.  But for the most part...they haven't got a clue.  I'm also one of those people who insist we should all do our best to take responsibility for ourselves.  So while I appreciate all the help I get from family and friends I know that my life and my health are in my own hands.  So I've had to figure out a few survival tricks along the way.

CRUISING:  Before the first dinner seating go straight to the Main Dining Room and talk to someone.  They are sooooo incredibly helpful…but if they don’t understand what you want ask for someone who can.  Then tell them you require a Gluten-Free meal and ask what you need to do to guarantee that.  Each ship is slightly different…but you need to get your message in early.  Normally you will be assigned a special person who will help you order at each meal.  I love the special attention and I make certain to tip that person well and in CASH at the end of my cruise.

DAY TRIPS:  First...I always travel with  Seriously, I always carry meal bars - Lara Bars, PureFit Bars, ThinkThin Bars - they're small enough to keep in my pocket or purse and when everyone else can stop and eat whatever they want and I can't then I can munch on a bar that will carry me through. I would never have made it through Ireland without them. Try to stay away from chocolate only because it can get pretty messy on a warm day. 

FAMILY & FRIENDS:  When I go back home to New England I stay with family & friends.  The first thing I do is confiscate (or buy) a good fry pan.  It doesn't need to be a large pan...but it must be in immaculate shape...NO scratches.  You can cook anything in a good fry pan.  Then I keep the pan with my personal stuff...wrap it in paper towels and hide it right in my suitcase.  That way I'm certain no-one else will 'Gluten' it when I'm not looking.  When it comes time to eat...I pull out my fry pan.  I can even make toast in that fry pan...a little butter on both sides of my bread...and a quick minute in my fry pan and I have toast.

FLYING:  As soon as you book your flight…call and request a Gluten-Free option.  It doesn’t matter if they tell you they can’t do it…call anyway.  Then ask for a Supervisor and ask again. It doesn’t matter if they tell you they still can’t do it…ask anyway.  YOU may not get what you want…but you’ll be helping others in the future.  When you get onto the plane and they start coming around with those little carts…ask if they have any Gluten-Free options.  It doesn’t matter if they tell you they still can’t do it…ask anyway. My carryon carries food!! You CANNOT carry liquids, or jelly, or even fresh fruit…but you can carry Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, dried fruits & nuts, cookies, crackers and candy or chocolate.

HOSTESS:  I've also carried a bag of Pamela's Gluten-Free Pancake mix all the way to Peru.  It was heaven to have fresh hot pancakes every morning for breakfast.  My hostess at the Anaconda Lodge even made some up for my packed lunch when we all went on a trek through the Amazon Jungle.  Imagine my glee when I opened my little lunch box to find pancakes layered with homemade pineapple jam and fresh fruit!!  When we were leaving she handed me a little package for the plane lunch she said.  It was Thai rice with vegetables, wrapped in a banana leaf and tied with a vine...incredible!!  Thank you, Wadee!!

PLASTIC ZIP-LOCK BAGS:  I know…it’s probably the most wasteful thing I do.  But when traveling they come in soooooo handy!!  So I pack a few quart sized and few gallon sized freezer bags. I just think of them as my wall of protection.  I don’t waste valuable food space in my carry-on with soaps & shampoos…they go into a zip-lock bag and into my checked baggage.  Wherever I’m staying I put my food into zip-locks to protect me from inquisitive fingers and flying Gluten.  Once I’ve opened an item I intend to use…into a zip-lock it goes to keep it fresh and bug-free.  I don’t know about you…but I don’t like eating bugs any more than Gluten…even when they do get fried up nice n crunchy and served on my dinner plate. {Shudder}

RESEARCH: Before venturing out of my own little comfort zone I always spend time doing research.  At home I’m known as the Google Queen…I can find out just about anything through Google.  Two things I ALWAYS research are foods and bathrooms…yes, bathrooms.  After doing this for nearly 30 years I want to know what is available for public restrooms.  I’ve also learned to pack those travel sized anti-bacterial wipes and pocket tissues…several packs are always in my suitcase and I always keep one of each in my purse when out and about.

SHOPPING:  As soon as I get to where I’m going I ask for the nearest Health Food Store and pick up a few essentials for my stay...pancake mix, pasta, bread.  I LOVE Tesco!!  I remember hunting for a Health Food Store in Scotland and discovering Tesco Grocers.  My travel mates found me standing in front of a WHOLE wall of just Gluten-Free food. I was awe struck!!  I swear I could hear Heavenly Choirs in the back ground.  My travel mates got a good laugh at the bemused look on my face…that’s because they understood :-)

SUITCASE: I pack crackers & cookies…my treats that I might not be able to find wherever I’m going.  My favorites are the Glutino Wafers & Schar Snack Crackers - strong, tight little boxes that won't get squished in my suitcase.  There's nothing worse than opening a pillow bag or loose cookie tray filled with nothing but crumbs.  Disappointing.  Especially when everyone else is enjoying an evening cup of tea or coffee and a snack and I’m left with crumbs. The only time I might break this rule is to tuck a pillow bag of Glutino Yogurt covered Pretzels into the top corner of my suitcase…I love those things!!

TRIUMPH DINING CARDS:  I never leave home without them.  Honestly.  They have become a permanent item in my purse.  I’ve used them so many times, in so many different languages, in many different countries as well as at home that the plastic sleeve that holds them is paper thin, worn & torn and I’m going to have to switch to a paperclip soon.  I wonder if Triumph has come up with a little travel case yet?? These little cards have saved my tummy more times than I want to know.

Carolanne LeBlanc

Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
               Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse
               101 Imperial Palm Drive
               Largo, Florida  33771


  1. I also recommend toaster bags to my readers.

  2. My daughter has celiac. Every year we visit her grandparents ( who don't have to eat gf) in California. A few years ago we purchased a toaster for her while there so she could have toast and waffles. We saved the box and when we were ready to leave we just put it back in the box and stored it at there house. Now we have a safe toaster for her every time we visit.

  3. I have travelled with a toaster. It did not think of a frying pan. Great tips - thanks