Vacations and air travel on the GAPS Diet always bring up questions and worries – especially during the Intro Diet. Today I’m covering in-flight recommendations, food to carry on with you, how to choose restaurants at your destination and what to order, shopping suggestions if you’ll have kitchen access, special considerations for traveling abroad, and a few supplements worth packing.
I was on Stage 6 of the GAPS Intro Diet the first time I took a flight, which was during Thanksgiving. I was pretty strict on GAPS for a year and half, and when I transitioned beyond that I have largely eaten a real food diet and sought out farm-type options as much as possible. I’ve since traveled many places in the US, Europe, Morocco, and Thailand.
In this comprehensive resource list, I’m sharing my tips, and those I’ve picked up from my clients, on how to best navigate air travel on the GAPS Diet, including suggestions for lessening jet lag.
In Flight Recommendations
For minimizing jet-lag, these three strategies have been life changing for us:
- Homeopathic No-Jet-Lag for long flights and travel abroad.
- Drinking a minimum of one liter of Spring water for every five hours of flight time.
- Getting some brisk movement in after the flight, to get your circulation going. A walk around the area or a bicycle tour are fantastic.
For general in flight support, these are my go-to’s:
- Beekeeper’s Naturals B.Immune Throat Spray, which I use every couple of hours throughout the airport and flight.
- Noise cancelling headphones – you’ll be amazed at how much less frazzled your nervous system is. Turn them on as soon as you get on the plane. You’ll hear the announcements, but not the background hum.
- Air filtering mask – this mask was created well before COVID to filter out fumes on the airplane.
- Thieves Hand Sanitizer, or other natural hand sanitizer.
GAPS Foods that you can bring on the plane
Skip all the in-flight and airport food. It’s heavily processed, preserved, and microwaved. If you’re adapted to burning fat you may skip eating entirely while you fly, but I find air travel to be a stressor, and I don’t like to skip meals when I’m under any stress.
Choose options from this list based on your flight length and how well you’ll be able to pack them. If you’re on a short flight and will have a kitchen when you land, it may be worth it to pack some extras to save time on cooking while you’re there.
- Tins or pouches of sardines, salmon, or tuna
- Liver pate with veggie sticks
- Leftover meat that you can eat cold, like chicken or bacon
- Tuna or chicken salad
- Hard-boiled eggs or egg salad
- Charcuterie meat and cheese
- GAPS bread, pancakes, or muffins
- Green salads
- Raw veggies
- Raw fruit
- Crispy nuts or seeds
Stasher bags are reusable silicone “zip-top” bags, which are safer than the thin plastic type and much lighter to carry than glassware. When I take my snacks in these on the airplane, I know I’ll have them handy to reuse for my whole trip.
For the flight home or when you can’t bring homemade food
It’s trickier to prepare for the flight home. I often try to grab a premade salad at a natural food store, or I’ll get by on store-bought snacks that are close to GAPS. Always double check the ingredients lists, but here’s some possible options:
- PaleoValley meat sticks
- GoRaw sprouted bars
- Kale chips
- SeaSnax nori seaweed snack
- Coconut manna (coconut butter)
- Raw nut butter packets
- Sardines, tuna, or salmon packets
Choose GAPS friendly restaurants
It’s rare to find a truly GAPS friendly restaurant, but I’ve found great options with this search criteria. You may not find a perfect place, but you’ll find something close enough, or can at least review menus so you’ll know what to choose in advance – not when you’re already starving!
- Ask your partner/family if it’s ok if you pick out some restaurants in advance, so you don’t have to waste time finding a place or read reviews when everybody’s hungry.
- Search on your map app before you leave and star or otherwise highlight the best options.
- Search terms: ‘farm to table’ ‘organic restaurant’ ‘paleo restaurant’ ‘juice bar’ ‘healthy cafe’ ‘organic food’ ‘gluten free’
- Not only will you find some gems, but it’s very important that we support the types of restaurants that we need more of!
Tips for finding GAPS friendly menu items
- Even the fancy restaurants are usually cooking with canola oil and it won’t be listed on the menu, so you’ll have to ask. This is the area you’re mostly likely to have to compromise on.
- Meat and vegetables are usually the best options. A lettuce wrapped hamburger, chicken on a salad, or a steak with roasted veggies will be widely available.
- Most things labeled “healthy” are low fat and will leave you hungry again in two hours. Consider bringing your own fat to add to the meal, like olive oil or avocados.
- If it’s a place that automatically gives you bread and butter, use the butter to add extra fat to your meal.
- Request olive oil and vinegar for salads. Ask them if it’s 100% olive oil. Recently we’ve found that restaurants are serving a “salad oil” that’s a blend of olive and canola. Smell the oil to be sure it isn’t rancid.
- Traveling with a Real Salt Pocket Shaker is both functional and adorable.
- When you make a special request at a restaurant, tell the wait staff that you have a medical condition and you’re on a special diet. When people hear that you have a medical condition they’re usually very understanding and will go out of their way to try and accommodate you. You might simply say that you need a meal with only meat and vegetables, or let them know that you have an allergy. If you call ahead and ask, some will even allow you to bring your own sealed container of ghee of coconut oil for the cook to use for your meal. This tip can be helpful so the staff understands you’re not just expressing a preference, but avoiding something that could be a danger to you.
I have a zero-tolerance policy for fluoridated water and it’s easy to find out in advance if that will be an issue. Use any search engine and type in the city name and “water fluoridated.” When the city I’m going to visit uses fluoride, I don’t drink tap water, including at restaurants. I bring my own bottled water, or buy it from the restaurant if they offer it.
Buy spring water at any grocery store, or look for high quality filtered water where you can refill your own container at a natural grocery store. If that’s not feasible, consider traveling with a simple water bottle filter. They aren’t thorough, but better than nothing.
A short GAPS shopping list if you’ll have a kitchen or mini fridge
Make an organic grocery store your first stop after you arrive. Even if you’ll only have a mini fridge, you can grab a couple of fermented foods or some quality fat to add to your meals.
When I have kitchen access, I use this basic shopping list:
- Olive oil
- Sugar-free bacon
- Chicken drumsticks or other meat on the bone for meat stock
- Fresh veggies and fruit
- Some kind of fermented food – kraut, kombucha, kvass, kraut brine, maybe White Mountain yogurt or Bellwether sheep yogurt, if tolerated
- Juices preserved with only HPP
- Plenty of spring water
- Maybe something like a Primal Kitchen dressing, if you tolerate some processed food, but read the ingredients to be sure they’re GAPS-friendly
Flying to visit friends and family
Bring your confidence. When you own your way of eating, people are much more likely to respect your choices. When they sense you feel awkward about it, or are asking for permission to eat differently, you’re more likely to get pushback, peer pressure, or judgy comments.
If you approach your situation with confidence and still get comments or ridicule, I encourage you to find non-food ways to interact with those folks.
- Expect temptation and bring your own snacks. I often find snacks irresistible when my introvert energy gets overwhelmed by a lot of group interactions.
- Consider having food shipped, if cooking would be a big inconvenience. Captain Soup, Pete’s Real Food, or a farm like Amos Miller have options available.
- If family or friends want to cook for you:
- Tell them you eat meat and vegetables, but not starches like potatoes. Most people understand that.
- Give them a couple of ideas: burgers or grilled meat with veggies.
- Give them the Full GAPS food list if they really want to know, but don’t have any expectations that they’ll get it right.
- Offer to cook a meal for them in exchange for their hospitality. Our everyday food is an amazing homemade treat for most people!
Traveling abroad on the GAPS Diet
- Bring digestive supplements listed below.
- Learn whether it’s safe to drink the water and eat raw foods.
- Research common and traditional foods in the country and how they might fit in with the GAPS Diet.
- Seek restaurants that cook in traditional ways, with real ingredients.
- Make the choices that are best for your circumstances – health and the pleasures of sampling special local cuisine. It’s common to have more resilience when traveling due to the relaxation, time spent outdoors, and extra walking. As well as in countries that still utilize more local foods, and in places with more stringent standards on GMO’s, preservatives, dyes, and other food chemicals.
- Prepare to be heartbroken when you see people all over the world cooking with vegetables oils and adopting Western Pattern Diets.
Supplements for travel
I never travel without digestive enzymes for extra support. There are just too many wildcard foods that can leave me feeling blah – especially industrial seed oils, which even the fanciest of restaurants are usually cooking with.
Depending on the type of travel I’m embarking on, I’ll also bring other supplements. If you’re flying to a place where food and water aren’t as sanitary as you’re accustomed to, an herbal antibiotic formula and a replenishing probiotic can be worthwhile extra insurance. Check with your healthcare provider to see which of these are suitable for you.
- Digestive enzymes – I like Klaire Labs VitalZymes Forte
- Hydrochloric acid – particularly in an area where food poisoning is a concern. Top-notch stomach acid digests bugs.
- Young Living DiGize Vitality essential oil, 1 drop used internally or topically for indigestion.
- Biotics Gastrazyme, 1-2 tablets chewed for heartburn or reflux.
- Klaire Labs Abx Support, probiotics for post-illness or food poisoning
- Biotics Research ADP oregano is an herbal antibiotic type formula that can be taken in cases of traveler’s diarrhea.
- Enema kit if you are prone to constipation, or will have limited fresh food due to possible food-borne illness abroad. Not a supplement…but can be misery saving.
Air travel on the GAPS Diet brings up its own set of challenges, but with the suggestions shared here you’re equipped to make an advance plan that you’ll feel confident in.