Traveling for Thanksgiving with Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Dietary Restrictions

5 Min Read

By Kelsey Kunik, RDN / registered dietitian, nutrition consultant, health and wellness writer, and recipe developer.


Eating while traveling, whether by car, plane or other means can be tricky. When will you have time to stop? How much will it cost? What can you take with you? Now, add in the extra difficulty with a gluten-free dairy-free diet. 


Following a gluten-free dairy-free diet isn’t just a fad for people with intolerances or allergies to these food groups. Breaking the rules can mean the difference between a good day and a day spent feeling downright miserable. Many people who follow a gluten-free dairy-free diet may have unpleasant symptoms and illnesses like digestive discomfort, increased inflammation, and signs of malabsorption if they accidentally eat the wrong foods. 


If you have celiac disease, eating gluten could quickly ruin a vacation. The same is true for a gas station snack stop with dairy if you have some degree of lactose intolerance. 


Only some places you go will be able to accommodate gluten-free dairy-free dietary restrictions, so making a plan and being prepared while traveling is essential. 


These are the top tips for traveling on a gluten and dairy-free diet to eat well and stress less when you’re getting to your destination! 


Preparing travel necessities for gluten-free dairy-free trip


How to travel with dietary restrictions


Food allergies, intolerances, or other dietary restrictions can make traveling a nightmare. You know, the one where you’re surrounded by food, with nothing to eat and always hungry! Here are some tips to help you save money and time and gain peace of mind while traveling with food restrictions. 


Restaurant with gluten-free dairy-free diet options
Research restaurants and grocery stores ahead of time


One of the great things about the information age we live in is that almost every restaurant, even many mom-and-pop shops, has its menu available online. Track your route for restaurants and call ahead to check ingredient lists. 


If you make a plan and double-check that the menu items are available and safe for you to eat, mealtime when traveling will be less intimidating and more enjoyable. 


ALOHA mini protein bars in fanny pack for gluten and dairy-free diet
Bring a bag or cooler with food alternatives 


If you’re on a long car ride or traveling by plane, pack snacks you know are safe for you to eat. Murphy’s law always comes into play when traveling, especially if you’re on a time crunch.


That restaurant you were supposed to be near right around lunchtime? Traffic jams are sure to set you back over an hour. Having a snack readily available can keep you from going hungry while you wait to get to your destination. 


You can bring a cooler in a car to keep perishable foods safe. You also don’t need to purchase an expensive cooler as an affordable styrofoam cooler will do the trick! Make sure your food is refrigerated or frozen before packing it and fill the cooler with ice. The styrofoam cooler will keep your food at your desired temperature for several days in the car as long as you replenish the ice as it melts. The ice can last for a few days depending on if you’re traveling in the summer or winter. 


Stick to shelf-stable options without liquids when packing for air travel. Stashing some ALOHA Protein Bars in your carry-on is perfect for quick allergy-friendly energy in a small package. The ALOHA Mini Protein Bars are best for stashing in your pocket or purse!


Book lodging with a kitchen or kitchenette


You can save a lot of money and stress by booking a hotel room with a kitchenette. If a hotel room with a kitchenette is not available, you can call ahead and ask for an extra mini fridge to be added so you have room to store all your food. You can also book an Airbnb with a full kitchen to feel like you’re in the comfort of your own home cooking your favorite meals. While it’s fun to try new cuisines and local restaurants, being able to shop for, store, and cook some of your meals will keep you safe and save a lot of dough. 


Kitchen to cook own meals on vacation for dietary restrictions


Woman enjoying ALOHA chocolate brownie protein bar on the beach
Tell people about your diet restrictions and allergies


If you’re traveling with others, make sure they know your diet restrictions. Being open about this part of your diet is extra important if you stay with people who may be buying or making meals during your stay. 

While you may not want to inconvenience someone with your diet needs, your host may be able to make easy swaps that can keep your food safe and delicious. 


Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Food Alternatives 


Packing ALOHA organic protein bars in suitcase to eat with gluten and dairy-free diet

Whether you’re at Aunt Sally’s a few towns over or enjoying Thanksgiving dinner on a beach vacation, you can make some easy alternatives for gluten-free and dairy-free Thanksgiving food.


Thankfully, many traditional Thanksgiving foods are safe for a gluten and dairy-free diet. Turkey and cranberry sauce are most often on the approved list. 


But you may need to watch out for the stuffing, appetizers, desserts, and snacks that go along with the day. Dips, mashed potatoes, gravies, and pie crusts are sneaky foods with gluten and dairy, so read labels or ask about ingredients before indulging. 


The good news is if you’re cooking or going to someone’s home that can be accommodating, there are many simple swaps to make Thanksgiving gluten-free dairy-free recipes. Use dairy-free butter like Earth Balance or Miyokos and plant-milk alternatives in homemade foods for simple swaps that taste like the real thing. It’s simple to make stuffing with gluten-free bread and to swap pie crust with crumbles made with gluten-free oats!


If the pumpkin pie has a traditional crust made with gluten and butter, but you’re looking for a delicious and healthy way to satisfy your craving, try the ALOHA bundles to stock up on enough healthy gluten and dairy-free snacks to last you your entire trip. 


Packing ALOHA organic protein bars in backpack to eat when traveling with dietary restrictions
Looking at the Bright Side of Your Dietary "Restrictions"


While avoiding foods like gluten and dairy for your health can feel like a burden sometimes, it always helps to look at the bright side. Today, many foods are tailored to these diet restrictions, making it easier than ever to find healthy grab-and-go foods that keep you full and make you feel your best. 


ALOHA bars are a gluten-free dairy-free option, keep you full for hours (making them a great road trip snack), and are high in valuable nutrients with 10 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein per bar. Stock up and save up to 20% with ALOHA bundles, so you always have a bar to go!


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