Once you've put in the work to create a thriving sourdough starter, you might want to take it with you when you travel so you can share the sourdough love wherever you go!
Travelling with your sourdough starter means that you can bake delicious sourdough bread wherever you go.
The good news is that whether you're travelling by plane, car, train or boat - your starter can more than likely make the voyage with you.
You'll also find tips for feeding your starter on the road, baking sourdough at your travel destination and sourcing flour while on vacation.
I've also written a guide on how to share your sourdough starter here.
Can You Take Sourdough Starter On A Plane?
Yes, you can take sourdough starter on a plane. It does take a little careful planning, but it's definitely possible.
Visiting the TSA website will tell you what you can and can't take on a plane in the US, including bread. You'll find their official statement here.
As per the TSA website, you can take bread in a solid form on a flight (both in checked luggage or carry on).
Bread in a liquid form (aka sourdough starter) should be packed in checked luggage.
However, if you can't put it into your checked luggage and need to take it on board with you, it cannot exceed 3.4 ounces (96 grams).
96g of sourdough starter is plenty. In fact, I would argue you would only need to carry between 25g and 50g with you.
How To Take Sourdough Starter On A Plane?
If you do wish to take your sourdough starter on a plane, the easiest way to do it would be to dehydrate your starter, vacuum seal it and pack it in your checked luggage. You can then activate the dried starter once you arrive at your destination.
If you do need to take it in your carry on luggage, I would still argue that dried sourdough starter is the best way to transport it. It's guaranteed mess free.
You can just reactivate your dried sourdough starter when you arrive at your destination.
If you do need to take liquid starter in your carry on luggage, you should take between 25g and 50g. So how do you pack a sourdough starter?
This is how to prepare your starter for the flight:
- 12 hours before you fly, place 15g of your sourdough starter into a small plastic container with 15g of flour and 15g of water. Stir thoroughly.
- Place the lid on top but don't screw it down.
- Before you leave for the airport (and once the starter has peaked) screw the lid on tightly and place the plastic container into a sealed zip loc bag.
Preparing your starter in this way means that it is fed, but will not risk popping the container in flight. The zip loc bag adds an extra safely barrier in case it leaks.
While I don't advocate using plastic with sourdough starter, it is necessary in order to take it on a plane.
When you arrive at your destination, you can feed your starter as per normal.
If you need to increase the amount of starter you have back to 100g or even more, you can follow these instructions.
Travelling Internationally With Sourdough Starter
Travelling internationally may not be possible right now, however when things open up again it's good to know that you can take your starter anywhere in the world.
Of course, you should be aware that the country you're visiting may have specific rules around foods that can be brought into the country.
You should check the rules of the country you're visiting before travelling with your sourdough starter.
It's best to dehydrate your sourdough starter if you wish to take it internationally.
It's mess free and you don't have to stress if you get delayed and can't feed it.
Be prepared to explain what it is if you are stopped by customs.
Feeding Sourdough Starter On The Road
If you take your sourdough starter on a road trip, or even just need to feed your starter once you arrive at your flight destination, there are a few things you need to think about.
Weighing the ingredients for your starter is best practice, so you will need access to a scale. A small, flat kitchen scale like this one would be perfect to travel with.
If you are road tripping, taking a small travel scale shouldn't be an issue.
If you're not going to be away too long you could even weigh out small bags of flour to make life easier for you.
Keeping your starter as small as possible while travelling is the key. That way you don't have to purchase as much flour or deal with so much discard or mess.
Baking Sourdough On The Road
When you're at home, you might be accustomed to using specific equipment to bake your sourdough bread.
If you're travelling, whether you're visiting friends and family or perhaps staying in rented accomodation, you might have to bake sourdough without some of your preferred equipment.
If you are taking sourdough starter along with you, and you have room in your baggage, I would recommend packing these few items to help you when you arrive:
- Small, travel sized scale (for your starter and baking bread).
- Silicone or plastic dough scraper (helps with mixing, scraping, shaping and cleaning surfaces).
- A roll of good quality baking paper (stops dough sticking and allows you to bake on pretty much anything).
- If you're really serious - a banneton is light weight and will ensure you'll be able to shape your bread, but a tea towel or bowl will work if you don't want to take one.
Check out this guide to baking sourdough without a Dutch Oven - it will assist you in baking sourdough bread while travelling without your cast iron pot!
This guide to baking sourdough with less mess might also be of interest if you plan on baking sourdough while travelling.
And just in case you only have access to a counter top oven or toaster oven for baking, check out this guide to baking sourdough with a toaster oven.
Accessing Flour While Travelling
Now this might sound like a strange thing to think about, but if you are travelling somewhere that you've never been before, or even a little off the beaten path, you might need to think about how you'll purchase flour to bake.
If you're visiting a major capital city or well travelled area, it more than likely won't be an issue.
However, if you bake with a specific brand or type of flour, you might want to research the availability of the flour at the destination you're travelling to.
If you don't think you'll be able to purchase the flour you need at your travel destination, you might need to think outside the box a little.
Of course you could take some with you, but flour is heavy and can be messy, so this isn't going to be the best solution.
A few ideas:
- Look at websites for supermarkets in the area you're travelling to to see if they stock the flour you need.
- Consider ordering the flour online and having it shipped to your travel destination.
- Research if there are any bakeries in the area that you could purchase flour from while you're on vacation.
Best Sourdough Recipes While Travelling
If you have travelled with your sourdough starter and you are wanting to bake some delicious sourdough for family and friends, here are some easy sourdough recipes that require minimal equipment.
You can bake these recipes with things that you'd find in most kitchens, meaning you won't need a Dutch Oven. You can use a baking sheet, rolling pin and mixing bowl.
- Sourdough Hamburger Buns (these will impress anyone you make them for!)
Want To Hit Pause On Your Sourdough Starter?
If you've thought about travelling with your sourdough starter and decided it's just not for you, you can put your sourdough starter on pause while you're on vacation.
Putting your sourdough starter in the fridge will ensure that you're able to come back to it when you're home from your travels.
You'll find a full guide to storing sourdough in the fridge here. It includes how to prepare it for the fridge, as well as what to do when you come home!
If you enjoyed reading about travelling with sourdough starter, you might find these articles helpful:
- Check out these full instructions for reactivating your dried sourdough starter here.
- Give your sourdough starter a boost after travelling.