Here are 7 tips to help make your gluten free travel abroad go more smoothly.
1) Book your gluten free meal if you are travelling by air – if you are flying to your destination it makes sense to book a gluten free meal well in advance. You may find that many airlines require a few days notice for a gluten free meal, so make sure that you request this as far ahead as possible and not just when you are checking in online.
2) Pack gluten free food -put a supply of gluten free snacks in your hand luggage just in case of delays or in case the airline is unable to supply you with your gluten free meal. Fruit, nuts, gluten free sweets, crisps and gluten free cereal bars make good snacks for travelling. You may also want to pack some gluten free snacks in your main luggage if you have enough room.
3) Search for restaurants before you go – have a search on Google for the places that you plan to visit on vacation and search for gluten free restaurant reviews to try and find restaurants that cater for gluten free diets. You may also want to try asking on a coeliac or gluten free forum, or on a travel forum in advance to see if anyone has any recommendations for you. A quick email or phone call to some restaurants can also be worthwhile as you can find out more about the menu and get a feel for how experienced they are with cross contamination.
4) Look at the Coeliac site for the country you are travelling to – many countries have a coeliac website with information about gluten free travel and eating out in that country. You may be able to find out what gluten free brands are available in the country you are travelling to or even get a list of restaurants that serve gluten free food.
5) Take Translation Cards – if you are visiting a country and you don’t speak their language you should consider getting some gluten free translation cards. When I visited France last year I printed out a stash of French gluten free cards. There are a few websites such as celiac travel that offer these cards for free and all you need to do is print them out and carry them with you. The cards explain that you have coeliac disease and list the foods that you are unable to eat. You can hand these to the waiter or waitress if you feel that they do not understand your dietary requirements.
6) Tell your hotel in advance that you are on a gluten free diet – phone or email your hotel well in advance to see whether or not they can cater for your gluten free diet. They may be able to get some gluten free bread or gluten free cereals for breakfast. If they are unable to cater for you then you could opt for the foods that are naturally gluten free such as fresh fruit, yoghurt and eggs.
7) Try to Get a Room with a fridge or kitchenette – this will allow you to buy a few gluten free items from the supermarket and store them for snacks or a packed lunch. An even better option would be to go to a self catering apartment to allow yourself the choice of either cooking in the apartment or eating out.
Gluten free travel certainly takes some effort in the planning stages, but if you take the time to do this you will have a much better chance of having an enjoyable and healthy trip.