Long flights abroad can be a huge pain. The lack of leg room is enough to make anyone go nuts, but tack on the lack of gluten free meal options on most flights and you’re looking at a rough 10+ hours. For these flights it’s important to plan ahead and know what you’re getting in to. Here are a few steps you can take to make your long flights doable with gluten free dietary restrictions.
Don’t count on the airport.
It can be easy to assume that you can just grab some snacks at the airport before boarding. That can be a recipe for disaster. Notwithstanding the potential hickups involved in security, long check-in lines, etc., there’s always the risk that there won’t be safe snacks. I’ve been in many, mostly smaller, airports that don’t have adequate food options. Plan your flight food ahead and don’t risk it.
Know the rules.
If you’re planning on keeping any of the food for once you arrive in your destination, you’ll have to fill out customs forms, so it’s important to know what you can and can’t bring into the country. Many have restrictions on foreign meat products, fish, fruits, and vegetables. You’ll also have to abide by the 3-1-1 rule for flying with liquids. That includes snack foods that are more liquid-y in substance. If you do fly with liquids, they all have to be in a quart sized, clear bag, and in 3oz containers or smaller. Check out this one if you’re looking for something reusable.
Don’t bring things that need refrigeration.
While we all want good tasting foods when we’re traveling, it’s important to not bring things that will go bad while you’re in transit. Even if you’re going to have a fridge once you reach your destination, if a flight is too long you risk your food going bad and making you sick down the road. Opt for non-perishable items like snack bars or preserved nut butters.
Don’t count on the airline.
Some airlines will try to accommodate your needs for long flights with allergen-free meals. This sounds great, but I’ve heard one too many horror stories about people thinking they would have safe food, and the airline not following through. If you do decide to use the airline’s option, be sure to pack snacks just in case. This really goes for anytime you have to count on other people, actually.
Ultimately if you plan ahead a little, do some research, and pack accordingly, it's totally doable to thrive while flying with a gluten free diet. Now just sit back, relax, and try to not think about how squished your legs feel.