Traveling with Food Restrictions

Eating nutritious food while traveling is difficult enough when you don’t have any allergies, but throw in a few food restrictions, and it gets infinitely more complicated. I have my fair share of junk food cravings while on a road trip, and always want something salty when flying, so the key to enjoying any trip (and not getting hangry!) is being prepared.

One thing I try to always have in my purse is Cashew Cookie Larabars (I get them here and I’m pretty sure I packed about 10 of them for this trip, with allergies, you never know if a wedding buffet will have the right food!). They are made from only cashews and dates, have a bit of sweetness, and are filling enough for in-between meals. They are a life-saver during a busy shift at a restaurant, a traffic jam, and when we got stuck overnight in the delta terminal at the Detroit airport recently.

Turns out spending the night in a terminal is not as much fun as Tom Hanks made it out to be! And while we didn’t get much sleep, we managed not to go hungry, despite the lack of actual restaurants that are open past 10 in that particular airport (we arrived at 10:30, and due to a rain-delay and missed connection stayed until 5am). Luckily one newsstand was still open when we got there, so we stocked up on some overpriced snacks to make it through the night. I thought I had prepared well enough by bringing my own snacks, but I had been prepared for a 6 hour trip, not a 24 hour trip…

In addition to the Larabars I had brought some salted pistachios. I’m allergic to almonds and hazelnuts, so despite wanting the variety of a bag of mixed nuts, I opt for the more boring but safe single variety. One way to still have some variety is to buy the smaller bags of various nuts or seeds, but even when buying these ahead of time at my local grocery store the price adds up. So single variety it is!

Pistachios and granola bars do not make a meal, so I picked up some sea salt Pop Chips at the newsstand. I generally don’t travel with crushable snacks, who wants a bag of chip crumbles? But arriving in Detroit hungry, having missed dinner due to the delayed flight, I wanted something in addition to the pistachios. The pop chips are simple, but they are not as high in calories as some other chips, and the ingredients are simple enough to be safe. Another brand I love is Food Should Taste Good. Just salty enough, and a variety of options without unnecessary ingredients.

To add in some variety, and balance the salt with some sweet, I also bought a bag of gummy bears (actually this was a mixed bag of bears and worms, yes, I felt like such an adult sitting in an airport terminal at 3 am eating gummy worms!). I had meant to bring some coconut caramels that I recently found here. But they accidentally spent the weekend in my kitchen cupboard. So the gummy worms hit the spot.

I also packed a few Justin’s single serving peanut butter pouches, which almost replace a meal with Suzie’s thin rice cakes (here). Because we were flying I didn’t bring the rice cakes (again, crumbles, but they are great for a road trip!), so I had a packet of peanut butter with a Larabar as an early breakfast around 4am.

Fresh fruit would be another great thing to bring (though make sure to pack bananas in a container to prevent banana puree in your purse), but I have allergies to most fresh fruit that travel easily (apples and various other stone fruit). So while my terminal meal was not the healthiest, I managed to replace dinner with some travel snacks that weren’t completely terrible for me.

Packing snacks is much easier for a road trip, where space isn’t limited to what you can (and want to) carry in your purse for hours at a time. In addition to something sweet and something salty I always make sure to bring seltzer water. The bubbles help keep motion sickness at bay, at least for normal trips, driving on curving mountain roads requires a little extra help.

Do you have any trips planned for the summer? What’s your go-to road food?




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