Traveling is my passion.
It can be relaxing, or it can be an adventure. You do things that you may not normally do. It can also be a challenging experience.
Your normal day-to-day routines are totally thrown out the window when you travel; sleeping and eating often pose the biggest challenges.
Forget it if you have food allergies sensitivities or restrictions! Then challenging to find good gluten free options becomes seemingly impossible. But it’s not impossible. You can travel in comfort and stay gluten free.
Take it from me. I’ve been traveling since I was a little girl. From living in the South of France for 6 months to a quick weekend getaway to St. Lucia or a bachelorette party in Ocean City, Maryland, count me in!
I’m not saying it’s easy, but there are ways to make it a lot easier on yourself especially if you are traveling and need to maintain a gluten free diet.
Here are my top four tips for traveling when you need to be on a gluten free diet:
My travel motto is “be prepared.” Pack gluten-free snacks. Look for items that are nourishing and have protein which will keep you feeling fuller or longer. Nuts, jerky and smoothie mixes can be great resources in an emergency. Sadly, you just never know when the only available restaurant within miles is going to be a fried chicken or burger joint. When you have snacks, you won’t ever be worried about going hungry. If you’re like me and get totally cranky pants when you’re hungry, then you’ll have a more pleasant vacation.
My favorite snacks to take are a KindBar, packaged tuna or salmon, and an avocado.
Takeaway Tip – don’t just pack a bag of protein bars. You’ll get tired of them. If you pack a large variety of snacks then you’ll stay happier.
Know where you’re staying and what your food options are for your trip. There are websites like Gluten Free Registry and Find Me Gluten Free that identify gluten free restaurants in any given area. I’ve used these to find options both in NYC and in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. There’s options out there! You can then visit the restaurant web pages and check their menu for gluten-free options. More restaurants are offering gluten free options and calling out menu items. This makes it much easier to go out to eat. When you’re traveling the key is to research your options in advance so that you’re not stuck in a restaurant that has sketchy gluten free choices.
Takeaway Tip – download one of the apps to find gluten free options on the go like Gluten Free Registry or Find Me Gluten Free.
Know Your Diet
For many people, traveling is the hardest when you’re new to the gluten free diet. It’s important to know what has gluten in it, what does and how to read an ingredient label so you stay safe and healthy. Knowing that everything from mustard, soy sauce to lunchmeats, soups and salad dressings can contain gluten can help you. Understanding your gluten diet can help you make better choices when you’re eating out, know what questions to ask a waitress and avoid being glutened. (Hint: this is also true if you’re eating at a friend’s house or family member’s house.) Understanding what foods have gluten and what foods don’t have gluten can help you stay gluten-free.
Don’t Be Afraid to Inform Friends, Family, and Traveling Companions
Finally, if you’re traveling to visit friends or family then it’s important to let them know that you’re gluten free before you arrive. Don’t expect them to understand your limitations! Be prepared to both educate them and fend for yourself – or at least lead the way in deciding where to eat. Some people are ready and willing to accommodate your gluten free needs and will do their best to help you. Others won’t. That’s life! It’s ok – I promise.
Takeaway Tip: Take the lead and no one will even notice that you have a ‘special diet’ unless you want them to know.
Eating gluten free definitely has it’s challenging moments. One of the most challenging times can be when you travel. With a little advanced research and preparation, you’ll be able to navigate your trip successfully. And think how much more you’ll enjoy your travels if you’re not dealing with the side effects of accidentally getting glutened!
Tell me, what’s you’re #1 travel tip?