How to Navigate a Gluten Free Vacation

  • 2 Minutes Read

Even though I do not have celiac disease, I have chosen to eat gluten free (GF) for two weeks while my American friend, Debbi, who has celiac disease, is visiting me in Seville, Spain. For those of you who have felt restrained from traveling because of dietary restrictions, learn from the example of Debbi who just moved from Colorado to Scotland, how to live and enjoy traveling with these five GF traveling tips.

How to Navigate a Gluten Free Vacation

Even though I do not have celiac disease, I have chosen to eat gluten free (GF) for two weeks while my American friend, Debbi, who has celiac disease, is visiting me in Seville, Spain. For those of you who have felt restrained from traveling because of dietary restrictions, learn from the example of Debbi who just moved from Colorado to Scotland, how to live and enjoy traveling with these five GF traveling tips.

GF Tip #1:

Print out a free "Gluten Free Restaurant" Card, available in 51 languages, which informs the kitchen staff in their native language to help you receive safe gluten free food. If the wait staff says, "Oh, don't worry you will be fine", choose a different restaurant. However, if the wait staff says, "Yes, we have these specific items on the menu that are gluten tree or here is our gluten free menu," have a seat.

Of course, one can always try to select GF options at a regular restaurant. However, we found when traveling in Gibraltar that restaurants that advertised online as gluten free always had a least one employee there who understood the necessary dietary restrictions.

GF Tip #2:

Print a list of GF restaurants in the city you are visiting from this website which compiles a directory of the best GF restaurants and map them ahead of time with respect to your overnight accommodations. Often one is hungriest, when the restaurant is farthest away. I found it easiest to map it ahead of time with the walking distance and store it as a photo on my phone, especially if you don't want to rack up roaming charges in a foreign country. When traveling in the United States by car, this free app is especially helpful in finding gluten free restaurants on the map along the way. Store the Triumph Gluten Free Dining and Grocery Guidebooks in your car or download the app for dining in the USA for helpful tips for GF travel.

GF Tip #3. Pack Gluten-Free Snacks

When traveling it is best to be prepared for unpredictable situations, such as credit cards being eaten by ATMs, delayed trains, missed airplanes, or other "travel memory makers" by having portable individual portions of GF snacks available.

Kitchen Gadgets

Depending on how long the trip it and whether it is by car, plane or train, these are some items that Debbi might pack.

GF Tip #4 Reserve a kitchenette or "self-catering apartment" as it's called in the United Kingdom.

As Debbi says, "For some vacations, it is just easier to shop at a grocery store and cook in your condo or rental apartment." Even though the weight of luggage can be an issue, pack a few items for the first few meals. Ironically, my small neighborhood grocery store in Spain carried GF pasta.

Quick GF Meal Ideas while Traveling

GF Tip #5

Read peoples' blogs from the respective state or country you are headed to. These travel stories teach you first hand, often in a humorous way, how to travel gluten free around the world. Here are some I have enjoyed reading:

Even though we have yet to find GF churros in Spain, discovering how to navigate gluten free eating overseas, has been a delicious experience. Thankfully, before Debbi departed, she did leave a few GF macaroons on the counter. Delicioso!

Meal Planning & Diets->Gluten Free & Celiac Travel->Regional Foods
Mar 12, 2015
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

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