I have always loved to travel. But has anything changed since I was sentenced to follow a gluten free diet?
Spontaneity is something that does not sit well with a need to follow a special diet. Gone are the days of stopping at a restaurant at a moment’s notice for a quick meal, or choosing holiday accomodation based on the hotel’s reviews only. But with a little planning, a gluten-free holiday can be just as enjoyable.
I have put together a few tips to help make the process as smooth as possible.
- Plan ahead.
I know, everyone says that but what does this actually mean?
Look up hotels that do cater to a gluten free diet in your chosen destination. To do that, look up reviews from previous travellers who follow a gluten free diet. Specifically type in the name of place you are visiting or your chosen hotel, and add ‘gluten free’ or Coeliac/Celiac on google or a trusted review site like http://www.tripadvisor.com. If anybody who follows a gluten free diet has been there before you and has taken the time to write up a review, it will pop up. Do the same with restaurants and cafes.
I have found many hidden gluten free gems just by doing that. Heaven!
2. Email the hotels and restaurants in advance.
Just to confirm that they can cater to a gluten free diet. Ask any questions that you need to, and advise them about your time and date of arrival. If they only have buffet style meals, make arrangements for your food to be brought out from the kitchen plated. And remind them about cross- contamination issues.
2. Whenever possible, book yourself.
It has become quite easy to book online. I have been disappointed too many times when I have left it up to the travel agent to make my gluten free arrangements. I hate hearing the statement ”well it is a buffet so you will find something to eat for sure!”. You are the one in control if you book yourself.
3. If you cannot book yourself, and must book through a travel agent, confirm them that they have made the appropriate arrangements.
And after they assure you that they have booked, confirm your dietary arrangements again closer to your departure.
Even better, email the hotel yourself to explain your dietary needs. Ignore the travel agent if they say that there is no need to contact the hotel yourself.
4. Print a gluten free card in the language of the country you are visiting.
These cards are invaluable. The site has gluten free cards in 54 languages. I would not have survived without them.
5. Pack snacks and food basics
or even more than the basics depending on where you are going.
For example, for a shopping trip to London, you might only need to take enough snacks to keep you nourished during the flight and the brief stay at the airport. But if you are going trekking in the rainforest of Costa Rica, you might need to take a little more supplies than the basics!
Make a list ahead of time so that you will have all your supplies on your departure date. Some healthy snacks might include gluten free granola bars, unsalted nuts, and dried fruit.
6. Make sure to book and confirm your in-flight meal if this is offered.
Re-confirm this on check in.
Although, sadly, more and more airlines are choosing to eliminate special meals to cut costs.
7. Even if you do have an in-flight special meal booked, take enough food to last the journey.
I have been told that my in flight meal had not been ordered on a long-haul flight twice, and it is not pleasant.
8. If you are booking any excursions that include meals, inform them of your dietary requirements beforehand.
9. On arrival, visit a supermarket if available, and stock up on gluten free foods.
Most major supermarkets have a gluten free section, and if not, you could stock up on fruit, nuts and seeds to snack on. It is best to google supermarkets in the destination you are going beforehand so that you will not waste time and energy.
10. Pack items like a paper/pastic plate, a knife, fork and spoon.
You never know what you might need if you don’t find anything suitable to eat at your destination. If you buy supplies like cured meats, jams or peanut butter to make a sandwich you will be glad you packed these items. Just make sure that they are in your checked in baggage to avoid confiscation.
With some pre-planning and flexibility, you will have a great holiday x
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/katphotos/6871142089/”>Kat…</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licaenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</>