How to Navigate a Gluten Free Vacation 12 March 2015

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.

  • Dried Fruits/Nuts
  • Individual Nut Butter Packets
  • GF Bars, Cookies, Crackers, Muffins, Bread, Pretzels
  • GF Beef/Turkey Jerky
  • GF Granola Cereal
  • Fruits and Vegetables

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.

  • Soft Sided Cooler (to hold cheese, meats)
  • Blue ice (which might be confiscated at the airport)
  • Ziploc baggies (to separate and store items)
  • Flexible Cutting Board and Knife or army knife (remember to pack in your checked luggage!)
  • Flexible camping bowl and silverware
  • Reusable Toaster Bag to put your GF bread into when using a hotel toaster.

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

  • Gluten Free Pasta with a fresh vegetable sauce with mozzarella balls and fresh parsley
  • Gluten Free Crackers and Tuna; yogurt, apple.
  • Gluten Free Crumpets for an egg salad sandwich (bring along GF mayo packets)
  • Microwave popcorn, cheese and an apple
  • Salmon with roasted asparagus and a baked sweet potato
  • Gluten Free Oatmeal Packet and UHT milk, banana and nuts
  • Aseptic container of Gluten Free Soup, i.e. black bean and GF bread

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!

Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

Have questions or comments about this post? Please feel free to comment on MyNetDiary's Community Forum or Facebook page – We would love to hear from you. And consider visiting our new Pinterest page!

Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Meal Planning & Diets/Gluten Free & Celiac Travel/Regional Foods

Related Posts:

This article can be found at