Traveling while following the GAPS diet can be challenging. But with the right preparation and choices, it can be possible. Before we talk about specific ideas, let’s talk about the top 3 things that are variables in how you prepare for traveling on GAPS.
Mode of Transportation
When planning what to do, you must first consider what mode or modes of transportation you are taking. Travel by car, bus, train, airplane, or international flight all come with their own difficulties. When you are traveling by car you can pack foods in a cooler, and there is more room for things like hot plates, pots and pans. Air travel can come with limitations on liquids and space, and international travel may have even further limitations. And traveling by bus or train may not bring liquid restrictions, but the items you bring will still be limited by baggage space.
Length of the Trip
The second consideration is the length of the trip. You may be able to omit certain foods like ferments or meat stock if you are gone only a few days, but longer trips would necessitate the need to bring these essentials. On the other hand, a longer trip would give you the opportunity to go to the store, purchase and prepare these essential foods, when there isn’t necessarily enough enough time to do this on a shorter trip.
Your GAPS Stage
Finally, think about what stage you are on, and assess where you are in relation to your health. For example, traveling on Intro stage 1 is very different from traveling on Full GAPS. It’s also important to bring into the calculation how strongly your body is currently reacting if you eat things off your current stage. People on earlier stages and with stronger reactions will have to be more careful and likely need to bring and/or prepare all of the food they eat while traveling.
Great! Now you have thought through the specifics of your trip, now let’s look some options for the foods themselves. The GAPS protocol is, by necessity, intricate and encompassing to make sure that we are supporting your body as well as possible during healing. But during times like travel, there are a few essentials that are most important to continue doing daily, while other (equally important) habits can be skipped for a few days.
What are the essentials to GAPS?
Meat stock, fat and ferments!
So let’s talk about these three.
Bringing meat stock can seem almost impossible when traveling, especially if you are traveling by plane. And if you are in a stage where you can be without, it is okay to miss this for a day or two. But if your trip gets much longer than that, or if you are traveling while on an early Intro stage, then you need to find a way to have meat stock on your trip.
The two issues with meat stock are space and liquid. You can reduce the space the meat stock takes up by boiling your stock down to a concentrate or even dried bullion that an be reconstituted later. Simply make your stock (chicken is easiest for this), then when it’s done remove the solids and put the liquid back on the stove. Simmer it with the lid off until it is reduced in volume. At this point you can freeze it in snack-pack bags or ice-cube trays.
To further reduce it (and eliminate the liquid problem altogether), you can put it on fruit leather dehydrator trays and remove the rest of the liquid via dehydration. This “meat leather” can be broken into strips and the pieces added to water, or it can be pulverized into bullion powder.
Another option may be to make meat stock where you are going. If you are staying in a house all you need is a quick stop at the store to pick up supplies and you are on your way. But if you are staying at a hotel there are still some options. If you have the space to bring a small hot plate and medium saucepan, you can make stock in small batches in your hotel room. Or you can use and electric kettle or the coffee maker to warm up hot water to reconstitute your “meat leather” or bullion, or use hot water from the hotel lobby or coffee shop.
Animal fat is so important, especially with the increased and different stressors you will be exposed to during travel. It’s important to continue getting good quality fat.
Freezing your fat in single portion sizes, then traveling with it in a soft cooler (or better yet, checked luggage) is almost always successful even when traveling by air. Then don’t forget to eat it! Bring it with you through your day so you can add it to your meal, or eat it straight or with snack foods like dried fruit.
Traveling home with it may be more tricky, so make sure to have some at home ready to greet you when you return!
Getting regular doses of probiotics during your trip is also essential, especially when exposed to unfamiliar foods and microbes. Some people may find that taking a powdered or encapsulated probiotic is sufficient. But others may be depending on that probiotic for stomach acid to digest food and release bile.
If this is the case, many people can get by with eating only the fermented vegetable (no liquid) of their favorite ferment. This shouldn’t get flagged by the TSA. Simply strain the ferment for several hours, letting the juice run into a jar (save for later). Then double-bag the vegetables for easy packing.
If you need that liquid ferment, you will probably have to put it in your checked luggage. I recommend a container that seals well, with plenty of air room, and many bags protecting your clothing! Or you may be able to connect with someone at your destination who can make a ferment for you so it’s ready when you arrive.
A Few Final Notes
Most restaurants will have no problem with you bringing in an addition to their food (like ferments or fat). In fact, if you add it to your dish after you are served, it may go completely unnoticed by anyone even at the table.
Most hotels have a refrigerator available for guest use, even if there isn’t one in your room. If you don’t see one, ask!
International flights may have different rules about what can come into their country, but it seems that for most, as long as it is only a small amount of prepared food for personal use, there isn’t a problem.
And finally, there is a phenomenon that occurs for many people while they travel. The body understands that you are in a different place, and in many cases it can put the current healing mode on hold. This means you may be able to eat more foods with fewer problems than you do at home. This is common, but it does not mean that you are necessarily ready to continue those foods upon your return. In fact, you may find that you need to be even more strict, or drop to a earlier stage for a few days to get your body back to where it was. But if this happens, it usually happens after you return, not during travel. Other people can avoid this dip but being sure to return back to the stage they were on immediately after getting home.
A note on detoxing: While we discussed only food in this post, detoxing is important to continue, and may be even more essential in an environment that is polluted with EMFs and environmental toxins, as well as unfamiliar and potentially unknown foods. I recommend traveling with a bath dechlorinator (I use this one) and a zipper-sealed bag of Epsom salts for detox baths. Additionally, take opportunities to sunbathe and ground, even if just for a few minutes.
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