Ahhh… Gluten-free bliss.
It’s early in the morning. The kids are still asleep. Wrapped in a plush bathrobe with matching bunny slippers, you steep your tea and sigh contentedly.
Looking around your house gives you a sense of serenity, safety, and control. You’ve done it! You’ve created your own gluten-free sanctuary. The cupboards and refrigerator are lined neatly with your favorite gluten-free products. The counters have been wiped clean of any stray gluten-y crumbs.
You’ve taken control of your health and – if the wide smile spread across your face is any indicator – you’re reaping the rewards.
Then the phone rings.
Let’s say it’s your sister is inviting you to her house for the weekend, or work calling you about an international travel opportunity. Whether you go by train, plane or automobile, the trip will require stepping out of the gluten-free container you’ve created. While you know you’re safe in your kitchen, you’re not sure what challenges the open road will bring.
Gluten Free Travel Tips
I’ve been there, and I’m here to help. Following my 5 rules for gluten-free travel will help prepare you for what lies ahead. Finish your tea, and let’s get started.
In my family, we have a running joke about travel food. Whenever we pile into the car for a road trip, we pack the trunk with our gluten-free buns. I’ve taken to saying, “Have buns, will travel!”
Gluten-free snacks are your lifeline, no matter where you go or how you get there. Some airlines now offer gluten-free meals, but nothing is safer than just bringing your own food to nibble on, such as our new gluten-free Snackers. This list of ‘25 Naturally Gluten-Free Snacks’ is also a great place for brainstorming snacks for your next trip.
Map out your meal stops.
Take an hour or two before you leave to research what gluten-free restaurant options are available on the road and where you’re staying. Print out or write down directions to these places so that you can make informed restaurant decisions throughout your trip.
A quick and easy way to do this without getting lost on restaurant websites or spiraling into an unproductive 3-hour Farmville marathon is to use AllergyEats. AllergyEats finds restaurants near the location you enter that are allergy friendly. They also have a free app available for download to your Android or iPhone.
Communicate with your host.
Whether you’re staying at a hotel or with your family, call ahead to see what your eating options are and make sure your dietary needs are communicated clearly. Helping the people you’re staying with prepare for your stay upfront will lessen the chances of an accidental glutening.
RELATED: Glutened! What do I do now?
B.Y.O.G – Bring Your Own Gear.
This is especially important for individuals staying in hotels without gluten-free accommodations, or with family members who aren’t especially gluten-free savvy. Packing a small cutting board, knife, and other basic cooking gear in your car (or checked luggage) will help you create gluten-free meals on the fly that may require additional maintenance than rice crackers and nut butter.
Mind the (language) gap.
While the gluten-free diet is gaining increased visibility worldwide, cultural and language differences further complicate the delicate dance that is ordering gluten-free at a restaurant. It used to be that your best option would be to get a native speaker to write out information about your diet on a card. Nowadays there are cards you can purchase or print with the same information. Check out Triumph Dining and Celiac Travel for details.