If you are required to follow a gluten free diet, you probably already know about the best local options for gluten free shopping and dining. You’ve probably also made changes in your kitchen and pantry to accommodate your needs and to prevent cross-contamination.
However, when you travel to a foreign country, you may find yourself at a loss for how and where to find the best gluten free options. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled some gluten free travel tips to help you make the most of your next vacation without worrying about being glutened.
Gluten Free Tips for Booking Your Travel
When it comes time to actually book your trip, you should already have chosen a mode of travel. If you’re traveling by car, you’ll be able to plan your route and your stops ahead of time to make sure that there are gluten free options available. If you’re traveling by plane or train, you may not have as many options. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when booking your trip:
- If traveling by car, pack a cooler as well as a tote full of gluten free snacks. In the cooler you’ll want to focus on individually packaged items like yogurt, hardboiled eggs, gluten free deli meat, pre-cut vegetables, salad greens, and salad dressing. In the tote, also be sure to pack dry snacks like dried fruit, roasted nuts, popcorn, gluten free chips, and sandwich bread like Schär Artisan Baker Multigrain Bread so you can make on-the-go sandwiches.
- When traveling by air, make sure to pack some non-perishable snacks in your purse and carry-on. If you have a long flight with a meal option, talk to the airline ahead of time to inform them of your dietary restrictions. Some airlines will be willing and able to make accommodations, but some won’t so be prepared in either case.
- If you aren’t able to get a gluten free in-flight meal, pack some extra snacks or bring your own meal and ask a flight attendant to store it in their cooler (away from other meals to prevent cross-contamination) for you until meal time. Don’t be tempted by in-flight meal options that seem gluten free because they are unlikely to have been prepared in a gluten free kitchen and the last thing you want to do is to ingest gluten mid-flight.
- Traveling by train is similar to traveling by plane in that your meal options will be limited during the trip. Pack along some gluten free mini meals and snacks to make sure you have food to eat. You can also contact the company ahead of time to find out what options will be available on the train, if any. Schär Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Bars make great travel snacks and post-meal treats.
When packing food for a trip, you need to be careful about how you store it. If you are traveling by plane, avoid packaging things in aluminum foil because there is a chance it could set off the metal detectors and be confiscated.
Helpful Tips for Choosing and Booking Accommodations
While you’re planning a trip, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement for all of the fun things you are going to do and all of the wonderful food you’re going to sample. You’ve already made your transportation arrangements, so booking the hotel should be easy. To make sure that your entire trip is as enjoyable as possible, follow these tips for booking your accommodations:
- Ask what kind of amenities are available both in the room and in the hotel. It’s a good idea to request a room with a kitchen (or at least a kitchenette), so you can prepare your own meals if needed.
- Request a microwave and/or a mini fridge from your hotel or other accommodations. If you receive some push-back, simply explain that it is a matter of medical necessity that you be able to prepare your own food. It’s best to make these arrangements ahead of time.
- Find out what kind of food options are available at your hotel. If the hotel offers room service, review the menu ahead of time or call to ask about gluten free options. You should also ask about food delivery from outside vendors as well as proximity to restaurants.
- Do some research to find out about local farmer’s markets and groceries where you can stock up on healthy gluten free foods to enjoy during your trip. You’ll also need to make sure that you have the necessary equipment to properly store any food you buy.
- Take advantage of online gluten free resources to find gluten free accommodations and restaurants near your travel destination. The Schär website offers a trip planner where you can plug in your destination and search for gluten free accommodations.
Staying at a hotel is one of the easiest, most convenient options for travel because you don’t have to worry about cleaning but there are other options to consider. If you’re going to be staying for an extended period of time you might look into a short-term rental, so you can have access to a full kitchen. Another option is to travel through Airbnb – even if you rent a room rather than an entire apartment or house, you should still have access to a kitchen. The benefits to using Airbnb also include being able to search for rentals that are marked as “gluten free households”.
Tips for Eating Out While Traveling
Trying new cuisine is half the fun of traveling and even if you’re following a gluten free diet, you don’t have to be limited. Planning ahead is extremely important, but if you know what to look for you’ll be able to find some gluten free options on the fly as well. Here are some simple tips for eating out while traveling:
- Order dining translation cards in the appropriate language prior to travel. You can get translation cards online that you can present to your server (or directly to the cook) at a restaurant once you reach your destination. These cards explain, in the proper language, that you must follow a gluten free diet and that you could get sick if something is cross contaminated.
- Know how to communicate effectively. When reviewing a menu to determine your options, it is helpful to know how to communicate your needs – saying something like, “I am allergic to gluten which is found in wheat, barley, and rye. Does this dish contain any of those ingredients?” is going to be more effective than “I have celiac disease” or “I am gluten free.” The clearer and more direct you can be, the better.
- Consider bringing your own gluten free bread so you can enjoy sandwiches or burgers when eating out. If the restaurant doesn’t offer a gluten free bun or bread option, you’ll still be able to enjoy those menu items. Pack a few Schär Gluten Free Bread Rolls to expand your meal options.
- Choose foods that are naturally gluten free. Even if a certain dish doesn’t look like it is made with any gluten-containing ingredients, you can never be too careful. It may be best to stick to foods that are naturally gluten free like salads, meat, or fish rather than things like gluten free pizza or pasta that have a higher risk for cross-contamination.
- Check the menu ahead of time, if possible, and ask around for recommendations. It can be difficult to choose a restaurant when traveling to a foreign country, so do some research ahead of time to find gluten free restaurant options. You can also ask the locals or the concierge at your hotel for suggestions.
- If you’re traveling to Europe, you’re in luck. Countries in the EU are much more familiar with the gluten free diet and Celiac Disease. Because of this, Schär has over 200 products in Europe. You can even find us in the pharmacy, if you’re traveling in Italy.
As careful as you try to be, the risk for cross-contamination is still high when eating out at a restaurant. If you aren’t fully confident that the restaurant understands and is able to accommodate your dietary restrictions, it may be best to find another option. You should also keep some gluten free snacks on hand at all times, just in case.
Taking a trip is your opportunity to get away from it all and to enjoy some rest and relaxation. If you’re constantly worrying about where you’re going to find gluten free food, it can ruin the fun. Do yourself a favor and follow the tips above to plan your gluten free trip so you can enjoy it to the fullest!