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Travel Tips for International Flights and Gluten-Free Meals

Updated: 2 days ago

International travel is challenging, but add gluten-free travel into the mix and it can be overwhelming. I have flown hundreds of thousands of miles in my life, and there are some things that make it easier. I recently flew from California to Rome, Italy, and I put together a checklist of my recommendations. I also compiled a Plane Essentials shopping list for some of my favorite items to make plane travel easier.

My recommendations for smooth airline travel

Woman holding a large gluten-free sandwich wrapped in paper
Enjoying my special sandwich

  • Request a special meal in advance and recheck. Airlines generally require 72 hours advance notice. I always request at the time of booking and then verify it 72 hours prior to departure.

  • Eat a hearty breakfast. For early travel, I often make myself something the night before that I can quickly reheat and eat on the way to the airport or at the airport. Often I don't feel like eating in the morning, but it is so important on long travel days.

  • Pack sandwiches or a big salad for the trip. Cold pizza is also an option. I like food that is heartier than just snacks. I try to make the sandwich special so I feel like I am getting something really nice, and so I don't feel deprived.

  • Plan for the worst -  Travel delays and cancellations are a reality of life these days. On my recent trip, many of the people on my cruise had terrible flight delays and reroutes.  If you get rerouted on a different plane or different airline, you will not have your special meal. You need to have options to see you through any delays or reroutes. There are many airports with no good Celiac safe gluten-free options.

  • Bring backup food—In addition to my sandwiches and snacks for the day of travel, I

Airplane tray with a gluten-free meal on it.  Meatballs with polenta, fruit, salad, and a sparkling water with lime
Gluten-Free Airplane Meal on Delta

bring backpacking meals and instant soup in case of any reroutes or extended delays. Other good options are gluten-free mac and cheese, instant oatmeal, powdered bone broth, and protein powder. These should be meal replacements that are easy to make with just hot water.  They are also good for your return trip when you cannot make sandwiches. You never know what delays may happen, and you want options. I carry a plastic spork or portable utensils with me. I also have a collapsable cup that I can make soup or oatmeal in.

Hand holding a large frozen water bottle
Frozen water bottles are allowed through TSA

  • Use a frozen water bottle to keep your food cool.  I like the large liter bottles.  Make sure you drink down some water before freezing.   As long as it is frozen, you can carry it through TSA checkpoints in the United States.

  • Stay alert - The food served to you on the plane may not be safe.  Inspect it carefully and go with your gut.  If it doesn’t seem right, don’t eat it. You have your backup food for just this reason.

  • Have things with you to support yourself if you do get glutened.  I travel with electrolytes, essential oils, and gas and bloat relief.

Want more travel tips? Check out my blog on my top 5 travel tips for Celiac jet setters.

This post contains affiliate links to and as an affiliate, I will earn off any purchases you may make from the links.

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