As anyone with a special diet knows, travelling presents extra challenges, so I always have a stash of gluten free food in my hand luggage. As I learned in Girl Guides – always ‘be prepared’!
I am a regular traveller between the UK and Australia and this is a sample of food I take on a long haul flight from Australia or on a road trip within Australia and I’m not sure where we will be stopping to eat. This will hopefully help those who are new to travelling as a coeliac, or new to Australia and don’t know which brands to look for.
If you are flying direct to Europe from Australia it is a 24 hour flight, so there are many opportunities for things to go wrong, from delays at the departing or stopover airport, to your gluten free meal not being loaded on the plane. And yes, this has happened to me! If you are travelling from the UK, please see the Travel food emergency supplies post.
My gluten free travel snacks need to fill one or more of the following criteria:
- long shelf life (needs to last the duration of the holiday & for the return plane trip if you can’t re-stock while away)
- durability (needs to survive being packed in a suitcase or being in a bag that is carried around and being pushed under airline seats)
- flavour (often the gluten free diet when travelling is incredibly bland)
- crunch (again something that can be lacking when travelling)
- be a treat (again something that cannot be found on a whim when travelling)
You can often pick up fruit at the airport, so I have not included it in this list!
Pretzels are great as they don’t crush easily, give good crunch and have a bit of flavour – admittedly from salt. I buy Eskal brand from Coles.
A crispbread style biscuit can be useful if you have access to fresh food in an airport lounge, or to add to a hotel breakfast. I enjoy DS Crispbread with some cream cheese and smoked salmon. In Australia, you can also readily access the Orgran brand, who have a variety of options such as buckwheat or chia seed crispbreads.
Biscuits for cheese or dip
Cheese crackers are my essential item that are with me at all times in my handbag. I also like them on their own or with cheese. As you won’t eat a whole packet in one sitting, you need to have some handy containers – see below!
The Peckish multi packs of rice crackers are great for travelling or lunch boxes. The flavour makes them OK to eat on their own, but are even better with some cheese or dip. As I can get into airport lounges through my husband, I can usually get some cheese to have with my own crackers.
Fine Fettle do a range of vegetable based ‘flats’ which give a nutrition boost either on their own or with some dip or cream cheese. Available at major supermarkets and Target.
I found these great containers from my favourite UK shop – Lakeland. You can fill all three and have two handbag size ones ready, and then re-stock from the larger one. I’m sure there would be something similar in Australia – try Kmart or Howards Storage World.
Top tip: It is also worth taking some zip lock freezer bags for any packets of things you happen to find while away, along with some elastic bands to reseal things that you might not finish. I put an elastic band around items I know I won’t finish all at once – such as the pretzels.
I have also seen these PackIt Freezable bags which you can freeze and then keep food cold for 10 hours. There are all sorts of sizes for whatever your need is. These are airport safe and a great way to take some fresh food with you without having to take a cool block. packit2go.com.au
Chocolate and chocolate biscuits
Schar chocolate digestives & Eskal rice crips & hazelnut clusters
Schar chocolate digestives come sealed in packs of 4.
Eskal rice crisp & hazelnut clusters are petit four size – they just give you a taste of chocolate and crunch (if you can stop at one!).
This is a really light treat – mostly a light and soft mint, covered in a thin layer of chocolate and it is sturdy enough to travel well without being broken. (Note: the label says contains traces of wheat starch and this refers to the wheat glucose syrup, which is gluten free.)
Note: If you are from the UK and used to buying Cadbury chocolate, be careful to check all labels in Australia as a lot of the chocolates have ‘may contain traces’ statements.
Potato chips are often the only thing you can get at airports, but I sometimes have them with me for a salty fix as often the nuts handed out on the plane have gluten in them. Smith’s have mini packs that are easily available at a large supermarkets and Thomas Chipman do small bags of corn chips and veggie crisps.
You could make up bags of dried fruit, or have Apricot Delight (which I think is an Australian delicacy!) and is the one item I ask visitors from Australia to bring to the UK. Golden Days Apricot Bites are gluten free apricot delight in snack bags which are great to have in your bag. You should be able to find these in most supermarkets.
(NB: not all countries allow fruit to be imported.)
All the supermarkets and convenience stores stock nuts – these ones from Harvest Box are labelled gluten free and are a good size for travelling. I buy them from Target or Coles.
Simply Wize corn crunch
I’m not sure if this counts as one of your ‘5 a day’, but they come in great little packs and give great crunch. I get them from Coles.
These mini packs of muesli clusters can be eaten on their own, but they also make a good quick breakfast with some yoghurt.
Roasted chick peas
A good way to get some extra fibre and protein – chickpeas are pretty tasty roasted and these 25g bags are great to have in your bag for an emergency snack.
You can buy multi-bags of these sesame snaps – they are a chewy, sweet snack.
Popcorn is a relatively nutritious snack and can be low calorie. Cobs popcorn is gluten free and you can buy ‘value packs’ of small bags which are good for travelling, as well as flavoured snack size bags.
Cheese sticks are non-refrigerated cheese – a lunch box snack many Australian children have had. They are not to everyone’s taste, but I like them so always take them for a snack on the plane.
Fruit and Nut Bars
Depending on the variety, bars can be a nutritious option to take away with you. They make a good breakfast on the go as well as a portable snack. You can find boxes of bars at the supermarket and the Springhill Farm mini bars at Target.
Even if you are not a child, you can’t beat a good gingerbread man – these ones from Gingerbread Folk are delicious. I have found them at Sunnybrook Health Store in Ormond (Vic). The Swiss Bakehouse in Mount Waverley also do a good gingerbread man!
I often find I get thirsty on a plane – usually while sitting waiting to take off or waiting for someone’s bag to be unloaded etc and you can’t get a drink. Having a sweet to suck on seems to relieve the thirst for a while. My favourites are Werther’s or Fruit Tingles.
Noodles & soup packets –
These can be a good option for airport delays (or even on the plane) as you just need to add hot water.
I haven’t found vacuum packed meals in Australia as readily as in the UK, but there some options such as microwavable rice, all in one nachos meals and small tubs of gravy that could add to a meal on the go if you have access to a microwave (eg on a road trip). I have tried the Nachos to Go and they are a good option if you can’t make your own, but you do need some scissors or something sharp to open the sauce packets.
If you are leaving from Melbourne airport you should be able to find a pre-packaged sandwich to take on the plane with you.
I hope this list has been of some help in planning your gluten free food for travelling. They are just the things I like – there are plenty of other options in the Gluten free aisles in the supermarkets. If you are travelling from the UK, please see the Travel food emergency supplies post.
If you are travelling to the UK, please see the Visiting the UK page.