For travel lovers, the idea of jetting off to new places is all about finding the perfect spot for some R&R in sun-drenched shores. However, for those with on a gluten free diet, or in fact anyone following a restrictive diet, such as, dairy free, vegan, etc., the thought of going on holiday can be stressful with the initial thought being, “What can I eat when I’m there?” However, I don’t ever let me put this off! I love travelling to new places and trying local cuisine. Yes it can be a bit trialing, but by planning and researching in advance, you can organise a stress free holiday! (This is also perfect for people who like organised fun – liked me!).
Being well practiced in travelling as a ‘difficult eater’, I have some top tips to help you for your next getaway:
- BYO Snacks and Food for Travelling
Small airports with limited food options can be a nightmare when looking for food to suit a restrictive diet. I don’t like to run the risk of not being able to eat (I am HORRIBLE when hangry) so I always pack a few snacks for before and during a flight. FYI – I always keep a few snacks in my handbag for the same reason! I really like the little snack boxes you can buy online, because they offer a range of different snacks, so you can snack according to your mood. Alternatively, you can speak to your airline and pre-book a special meal. Here are a few snack boxes that you can buy prior to travelling:
2. Notify your hotel
If I am staying in a hotel when travelling, one of the first things I do is get in contact to ensure that they can accommodate my gluten free diet. More often than not, I will do this prior to booking a hotel! Normally, most hotels will be good at lunch and dinner, but breakfast can be a little tricky. If a hotel does not offer gluten free bread, I pack an emergency loaf in my suitcase and then if I fancy French toast or a sandwich I can give the bread to the hotel kitchen – crisis averted! Also, you can ask your hotel to put a fridge into your room. This seems like a strange request, but it isn’t. This means that you can go to the local supermarket and stock up on fresh fruit, salads and little snacks that will keep you going if you get peckish.
3. Research the area you are travelling to
I first of all check Trip Advisor to see what restaurants are available locally – you can search for ‘gluten free’ to check if anyone has reviewed a restaurant based on their experience, this is always helpful! A personal favourite way of finding brilliant restaurants is by contacting food and travel bloggers on Instagram who are local to the area. Reading blogs can also offer endless restaurant inspo and will give you a fair idea of which dishes are good to order! If you like the look of a restaurant, but can’t find any reference to dietary requirements or allergies, just send them an email and ask if they can accommodate your diet. Here are a few of my favourite travel bloggers:
4. Bring a Travel Card
I love to try and learn a little bit of the local language before I travel to a country, but to eliminate any miscommunication I always bring a gluten free travel card. My life saver over the past few years has been www.celiactravel.com/cards/ - they offer FREE printable restaurant cards that you can use when dining out abroad. These cards explain that you are coeliac, what you can’t eat and provides information on cross contamination. Further to this, it suggests foods that you can eat, to make it a little easier for the kitchen to come up with a meal for you!
5. Don’t see any gluten free items on a menu?
Don’t let that put you off! You will be surprised how many restaurants have gluten free staples in their kitchen. When I visited Rome, I was shocked that approximately 90% of restaurants I visited had gluten free bread, pizza and pasta available. It’s always best to check with a waiter before writing the restaurant off completely!
6. Never take risks
If you’re unsure whether or not a food is safe for you to eat – don’t eat it! There is nothing worse than ending up ill or unhappy on holiday, so you’re always better to wait until there is food available that you’re positive that you can eat. If you get a plate of food that has a piece of bread or croutons on it, just ask for a completely fresh dish. It only takes one crumb for you to be ‘glutened’. If in doubt, fresh fruit is always a safe option.
7. Choose the best travel partners
Travelling when you're gluten free can also be straining on the people you're travelling with. If a restaurant can not accommodate your allergy, you can all be faced with the same tricky circumstances of not knowing where to go next. This is where your choice in travel partner will make the difference. I have the most amazing friends and family who always make me feel so much better when there's nothing I can eat and will reassure me that moving to the next restaurant is 'our' best option, "I didn't even want to eat there, their menu wasn't that great - let's look for somewhere better!". People with this attitude are the reason why I have never 'settled' for a mediocre meal while travelling - thank you, you are all my favourites! x
If you have any questions about travelling on a gluten free diet, please get in touch! x