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Traveling on GAPS

When you think about traveling on GAPS is this what you picture?  You may not be able to cross the country with only a carry on bag anymore but there are ways to travel without bringing your entire kitchen with you.

My family took a 2 week vacation by car this past October. Along the way we stayed with family, friends and in hotels. Some hotels had kitchens and others didn’t. It was a challenge to stick to the GAPS diet on our trip but we did and it was very much worth it. I’m going to share with you what I did to make it successful.

The most important thing I did was to plan ahead. I don’t love to meal plan and I don’t keep my pantry lean and mean. I like having lots of foods to choose from and a well stocked freezer. I often cook whatever hits my fancy that day. After 2 years on GAPS I can do that without too much trouble. But whenever I am anticipating a busy week or extra stress I take the time to meal plan first. On GAPS I don’t have the luxury of ordering a pizza if I run out of time to make dinner one night. As they say failing to plan is planning to fail. I wish I could get the discipline to do it all the time but this works for me. In order to meal plan for extended travel out of town you have to have a good idea of how much food your family will go through in that amount of time. If you are under by much and don’t have a back up plan for getting more food on your trip it could be disaster.

When I meal plan for a trip I plan every meal, including snacks, taking into consideration the plans for that day (traveling day, in hotel, at friends etc). I always plan on us eating a lot at every meal. If I don’t I’m sure to be caught with someone begging for food and I won’t have anything to feed them. Of course I plan some meals to be from very shelf stable foods like dehydrated vegetables or canned fish so that if I do have too much from a previous meal I can just serve left overs and not worry about something spoiling. When I meal plan for travel I do an extra step. At the bottom of my spreadsheet I start writing every single ingredient and how many if applicable as I go along. That way I don’t suddenly find myself making a meal without the necessary herbs for example. I tend to plan simple meals while traveling to keep ingredients to a minimum and simplify packing and cooking while away from home.

When you are meal planning for a trip think of the foods that are #1 easy to prepare and #2 your family loves.  Who wants to spend 2 hours cooking up a gourmet meal when you really want to be sight seeing.  And who wants to spend 2 hours coaxing soup into a reluctant child when you could be sitting on the beach.  To be sure the lure of getting to go do fun things can motivate some children to scarf down their food quickly but for others it may cause them to say they are full before they are and then you have a whiny child begging for snacks in the middle of an amusement park where you are surrounded by junk.

I looked into the places where we were going and what was available there for grocery stores and restaurants well before we left on our trip. I am very blessed with understanding family and friends who support our dietary choices and don’t try to undermine them or cause problems. I don’t get to relax as much as I once did on vacation and skip out on cooking completely but I choose some of the easier to make meals for us to enjoy and throw in some treats and we don’t feel deprived.  Nor do we feel ill from eating foods off diet and ruining our vacation.

Some of the foods that I cooked ahead and brought with us were oven fried chicken, yogurt, kefir, hard boiled eggs, muffins, broth,, coconut flour bread for sandwiches, and frozen cooked chicken.  I also made dehydrated broth. You simmer strained broth in a pot till it is thick like syrup. Then spread the broth thinly on parchment paper in a dehydrator.  Dehydrate at 155 till dry and use a food processor or high powered blender to pulverize it.  1/4 – 1/2 tsp added to 8oz of hot water makes a mug of hot broth.  I use unsalted broth for this and salt to taste when reconstituted.

I also packed coconut flour, butter, milk for kefiring along the way, produce for eating raw or cooking, frozen veggies, safe lunch meat, bacon, raw eggs, cheese, soaked and dehydrated nuts, coconut milk, dehydrated tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, salt, pepper, honey, tea, coffee, Jerky, Pemican. dehydrated broth, dehydrated broccoli and cauliflower, Hot Dogs, sauerkraut, pickles, ground beef.  All meats were packed frozen and thawed as needed.

For our trip I used 2 hard sided coolers and 2 soft sided coolers in the back of my car.  I also had my dry goods packed in boxes and bags.

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Thank You! –PattyLA

This cooler was probably the single most important item to making our trip a success.  Without the food to cook nothing else really matters. If you are planning to travel or camp on GAPS one of these Xtreme 5 day coolers are a must. They really work fabulously well. I had to remove food from them to get it to thaw. They keep it that cold. In the hotel rooms we would bring this in and add a couple of bags of ice from the ice maker and use as a second fridge. Our other hard sided cooler was a styrofoam cooler that an order from US Wellness Meats had come in.  I wanted to be able to throw it away part way through our trip if we didn’t need it anymore.  It didn’t keep food nearly as cold but it worked for a day till we could get to refridgerator.  It was also where we put the foods we had planned for dinner in the morning so that they would thaw by supper time and be ready to use.

You can click on this image to go to Amazon and read about this cooler.
Our soft sided coolers were bags sold by Costco like this one.

We also had a friend loan us a small water cooler like this one.  We kept it in the back of the car filled with filtered water and refilled the girls water bottles from it whenever we stopped.

As for where we were getting that filtered water from, we bought one of these.  You really should do yourself a favor and click over and read about this water pitcher.  When we aren’t traveling it lives in our upstairs bathroom where it filters tap water for us to use there. It is basically a reverse osmosis filter in a pitcher form. Over time ro water isn’t the best to be drinking without adding back in minerals but for travel and occasional use in the bathroom this is a great solution. It is also an economical choice if you just can’t invest in a water filter system right now.  We have a filtered water tap at our kitchen sink but we aren’t going to travel all the way downstairs to brush our teeth at night.  This filter is so good it even filters out fluoride.  I highly recommend it. While we were traveling it allowed us to transform yucky hotel water into clean tasting purified water quite quickly.

Water bottles.  I love the newer sport top on the Kleen Kanteen bottles for myself and the girls love the straw Foogo bottles by Thermos.  Both are stainless steel inside.  The girls bottles were only 10 oz so that helped minimize stops to use the facilities.  (My girls can drink a ton if given the opportunity)
Don’t forget containers to bring food along in as well. On the days when we stayed at a home we were able to pack a warm meal for later in the day into our thermos containers like these. We use these a lot at home as well of course and we sure were glad to have them along with us on this trip.  The one on the left is bigger and has a spoon built into the lid.  Not sure why it looks smaller in this photo.  It is my favorite for adult sized meals on the go.
I also brought my hand blender for making pancakes, fauxtatoes and other blended foods on the road.  This one is very powerful the part that touches the food is metal.  I like that for blending hot soups.  This is the third hand blender I have purchased and I am happier with it than I was with any of the previous ones.  This is a very powerful tool that can do a lot more than make milk shakes.
I also brought along one cookbook and uses it a few times for making different coconut flour baked goods to round out our meals.

For some reason on this trip I thought I would be able to pick up an electric skillet before I needed one on the drive home.  (I would have access to a stove at least once a day every day before that). When I went shopping I could only find a non-stick skillet and ended up purchasing it but I need to replace it before our next trip. I loved having an electric skillet to cook on in the hotel room.  In the morning I made bacon and eggs in in. One day we had stopped at a grocery store where I found lamb chops on special and I made lamb chops with a red wine reduction sauce in the skilled.  I also cooked some veggies with some broth in there and we had a wonderful hot meal.
Don’t forget utensils to use in the pan.  This set looks like it has a you will need for travel cooking and I like how bamboo is renewable and won’t scratch your pan.
In addition we of course brought our own dishes along.  I like these Preserve dishes.  They are made out of recycled materials and are sturdy enough for the dishwasher but thin and take up very little space.  We also brought our own dish soap to wash them up with.

Don’t forget a good knife.  I love these Pampered Chef knives because they come with a storage cover that also doubles as a sharpener.  They are great for travel.

We stayed at a place with a kitchenette for part of the vacation.  I hadn’t thought through the quality and selection of pots and pans available at a place like that.  Old, scratched up non-stick pots and pans for the stove top and nothing at all to use in the oven.  I cringed and used them.  In the future I may not bother with a kitchenette at all and just plan to use my electric skillet for our cooking.
I hope that this gives you some ideas on how to prepare for a road trip on GAPS (or another restrictive diet that makes eating out difficult or impossible).
I did want to share that I had my first successful meal at a restaurant on this trip since I discovered my corn allergy a few months before we started GAPS.  Outback Steak House was able to serve us a meal that not only was filling (I am often hungry when I am done eating the gaps legal portions of a restaurant meal) but did not expose me to any corn.  To make it even better I was on a date with my husband while my parents watched our girls. That felt like a vacation to be sure.
Have you traveled on GAPS or a similar diet?  What tricks have you learned that I left out?  What mistakes have you made along the way (we can call learn from those mistakes and not repeat them)?  Write about it in the comments!


  1. So many great suggestions in this post! I've been doing GAPS 4 months, but have not done any traveling yet. Larabars could make a good travel snack. I think most of the varieties are GAPS legal. It's so helpful to have someone with so much GAPS experience share this practical information! Thank you!

  2. Yes Larabars are a good travel snack. The nuts aren't soaked but otherwise they are GAPS legal. My family has to avoid most fruit and nuts so I tend to not think of them.

  3. This is GREAT! Love all the ideas, details and product recommendations. Will definitely revisit this post when traveling in the future! BTW, what did you order at Outback?

  4. At Outback I had a steak, broccoli and lots of butter. Oh and we had the Shrimp appetizer. We requested everything plain (no seasoned salt). They used real butter but I have heard that at least some Outbacks are starting to use margarine.

  5. This is a great article Patty! We are going on our own 2 week road trip on June 1. While we are not on GAPS we do plan to follow our same real food eating as we do at home. I was especially wondering what to do about water and am glad you linked to that filter. I’m going to check it out! Space is a big issue for us and I fear we may look just like that car in your picture by the time I’m finished packing us up. :-)

    • I continue to really like that pitcher. We use it in our upstairs bathroom so that we never have a need to drink the tap water there. It even comes with it’s own tester so that you can know when you need to change the filter. It has been a great investment for us.

      • PattyLA,
        Do you know how the filter does on fluoride? I’m reading the info you linked and looking at the mass amounts of comments but have yet to find that answer.

        • Supposedly it also removed fluoride. The water it produces will be like reverse Osmosis water so also lacking minerals but you can add those back with something like concentrace if you want to. We don’t worry about a small amount of RO water each day or while traveling and figure it is much better than drinking tap water most places.

          • Thanks Patty!

  6. Thanks for sharing your story! very helpful
    I’m new to GAPS and very proud of my progress so far and that i’ve been able to stick to the diet.
    I’m however very worried about traveling; due to my work i have to travel often (by plane). Since i started GAPS I did my best the re-schedule several trips, did a lot of online meetings etc, but now i find myself with no choice other than traveling again for few weeks.
    Next week I’ll be on a very long flight (10hrs, 2 hrs layover, then another 4hrs), I’ll certainly be hungry but won’t be able to eat the food served on the flight, i also can not bring my soup (liquids not allowed on flights), and i’m still in the early stages of GAPS so not all food has been re-introduced yet.
    I’d appreciate any recommendations, ideas, etc

    • Alexy,
      Make dehydrated broth for traveling with. Also on the flight you can bring dehydrated soup or just boiled meat and veggies and plan to get hot water from the flight attendants to make up broth. Also foods like hard boiled eggs are allowed on intro pretty early on. It sounds like you will be traveling to another country with that long flight. Hopefully you can find somewhere at your destination to source safe foods

  7. My biggest adventure traveling on GAPS so far was a 2-week camping trip to Yellowstone. I lived out of coolers as well, and cooked everything on our propane camping stove. One of the foods that sticks out to me from that trip is meat patties. I made a huge batch of meat/vegetable patties and spiced them similar to sausages… we ate those out of the cooler non-stop. They were great as stand-alone snacks, or I could make some quick veggies and cut them up and throw them in as stir fry. I also made a big batch of no-grain “granola” and ate that in several different ways too. “Veggie eggs” were also a camping staple… just about every morning I would throw a big pot of whatever veggies I had on hand with some butter to sautee, and at the end add eggs to scramble, omelette style.

    We also looked for farmer’s stands and took advantage of whatever local produce we could get that was in season as we were road-tripping through!

    I wish I had thought of dehydrated broth then! It would have been handy to have on hand!

    • That sounds great! Camping brings it’s own challenges to GAPS eating. Thanks for sharing your solutions!

  8. Hi,
    Im about to visit St. Louis and was wondering if you had any restaurant recommendations that would be my best bet for eating GAPS? I am not familar with the area at all. Thank you.

    • I do! There are 3 places that we eat safely in St. Louis. Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood, Chipotle, and Outback. Not everything on the menu of course but there are a couple of options at most of those places. My favorite is Bottleworks because it is lots of locally grown food and a local business plus the food is super yummy! They even have a meat and cheese platter for an apetizer that we get without the bread that is safe. I do not know about the other Schlafly Resturant, The Tap Room. We just haven’t tried to eat there on GAPS. The menu is different in many ways. Another one that many can make work but I can’t because of my corn allergy is Local Harvest. I can’t eat salads away from home because they are all contaminated with corn so I need a resturant with cooked vegetables on the menu and their only GAPS veggie option is salad.
      What part of the city will you be in? I can let you know how close you are to some of these options.

  9. I already drink a lot of water, but I’d use it in the bathroom so I don’t need to go all the way to the kitchen in the middle of the night for pure water.

  10. Hi Patty, Did you really take Weight Watchers muffins on your trip? The link for “muffins” in your list of foods you took is a link to Weight Watchers muffins on Ebay. I noticed another link was for ebay also.

    • I have some links that are advertising and I have no control over where they go. No I did not bring weight watchers muffins. I brought ones I made myself.


  1. Preparing for GAPS Intro: My 12 Step Checklist : Oven Love - [...] For more tips on traveling during the GAPS diet, visit Loving Our Guts. [...]

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