HOW TO PREPARE A GLUTEN FREE TRIP
How to prepare for a gluten-free trip? This is the question many coeliacs are asking themselves. Especially the newly diagnosed.
Travelling is something almost everyone likes, and travelling gluten-free is not much more complicated… it’s true that sometimes we have to better plan the possibilities we have to eat gluten-free away from home. It is also true that there are no certified gluten-free restaurants everywhere, but you will always find a place where they can adapt something for you. And if they can’t adapt it, at least prepare something separately directly.
You have to think that a gluten-free trip can be – and will be – as wonderful as a non-gluten-free trip. In addition, eating gluten-free out of home is part of the gluten-free travel experience, so if we can eat more than just the typical salad and grilled chicken, better than better!
We always divide the preparation of a gluten-free trip into three parts. Before, shortly before and during the trip.
Before we start to travel gluten-free we try to collect as much information as possible through gluten-free applications, the gluten-free map, other blogs, forums, and other tools available, especially on the internet.
During our gluten-free travels we continue to search for gluten-free restaurants by other means. Below we tell you in more detail how we prepare our gluten-free trips.
------- Before The Gluten-Free Trip -------
The decision about our gluten-free destinations is usually based on the curiosity of a book, a film, what someone else has told us, the historical value of that place or simply because it seems like an unusual gluten-free destination and we want to see how many gluten-free restaurants there are, whether it’s possible to find a gluten-free pastry shop and, if it’s summer, we’re always looking for the most recommended gluten-free ice cream shops, if there are any! In general, we look for all the gluten-free places we can find there and select the ones we like the most.
Once we have chosen the destination, the steps are very easy:
1. We’re looking for a list of gluten-free restaurants in the cities we’ll be visiting. At this point, we only look at how many there are. We don’t stop to look at more details, whether or not there are any we’ll go anyway. We’ll find our way!
2. We look for the gluten-free celiac travel card in the local language. If we don’t have it, we contact tourist information so they can send us the translation. We often ask them not to use Google Translate. We can do this ourselves and we need the translation to be well done. Here you will find them in more than 35 languages.
3. If we travel by plane, we make sure that it is a gluten-free airline, i.e. that they offer GFML menus and/or are sensitized to the subject and we can eat gluten-free on the plane. It is especially important whether it is a long flight or an international flight. There are some airlines that only offer this service for flights longer than 4 hours. If your flight is shorter, it is possible that they have some snacks that you can eat. We always recommend that you bring some gluten-free food with you.
4. As for accommodation, if we have only found few gluten-free places, we look to find an apartment. If there are many gluten-free restaurants in the city, we look for a hotel. Before booking, we call to ask if they offer gluten-free options. This will be important for breakfast or sometimes dinner. Normally we don’t eat at the hotel because we prefer to go and try the gluten-free restaurants and gluten-free bakeries we have found. If unfortunately we haven’t found anything, the fact that the hotel offers gluten-free options is a plus.
5. If we go on an organized trip, we transfer all the information about our allergies and intolerances to the agency that will organize everything. It is very important that you make sure that the guide is well informed, as he or she will be your intermediary in many cases.
------- Just Before The Gluten-Free Trip -------
1. A week before (if not more), we contact the local Coeliac Associations to ask them for information about certified gluten-free places. We contrast it with the list of gluten-free restaurants we have compiled through the gluten-free apps about our new gluten-free destination.
2. One or two days before the trip, we always go for the “just in case shopping“. This is essential above all to cover mid-morning snacks and breakfasts, but it will also help you if you miss a meal plan. If the trip is very long, or we sleep in an apartment, apart from looking for the gluten-free restaurants of the place, we also look for where to buy gluten-free.
3. If we sleep in an apartment we try to book one that has a gluten-free supermarkets nearby. We also look for gluten-free shops – such as herbalists or health food stores – in the city in case we get hungry in the middle of the day and, for whatever it was, we ran out of the food from our “just in case shopping”.
4. When we pack, we always put the “Gluten Free toasting bag“. Normally hotels do not have a gluten-free toaster, so this toasting bag will allow you to avoid cross-contamination. Although we always carry the “just in case shopping” as hand luggage, if necessary, we also put a packet of gluten-free bread and a packet of gluten-free biscuits in the suitcase. Just in case!
------- During The Gluten-Free Trip -------
When we arrive, the first thing we do is get a map of the place to turn it into a celiac map, a map of gluten-free restaurants or a map of gluten-free places. However you would like to call it! On the map we mark two things: the places and monuments we want to visit, and the gluten-free restaurants we want to try. This helps us to organize the route and we will try to visit places that are far from gluten-free restaurants early in the morning or after lunch to avoid being far from them when it’s time to eat. We must also check the timetables of each gluten-free destination! For example, in Spain you eat much later than in France.
Then we always follow the same steps:
1. We look for the tourist information point to ask again for information about gluten-free restaurants in the city. Sometimes we discover new gluten-free places that we had not found on the Internet or in the list provided by the Celiac Association.
2. If we have roaming data, we also use gluten-free applications. Thanks to geolocation, they inform us about the gluten-free restaurants that are close to us. In addition, some have ratings that help us decide where to eat gluten-free.
3. As a recommendation, restaurant chains are often a safe option.
4. If you can’t find a gluten-free restaurant nearby, McDonald’s can be useful for a salad, chips or ice cream. In these countries McDonalds offer gluten-free options: Spain, Holland, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Hungary and Norway.
5. If you don’t want to go to McDonalds, you still have options:
– Find a nice park and eat the “just in case shopping” products.
– Find an Italian restaurant. They probably have gluten-free pasta, but you can also have an antipasto, salad and meat.
– Use the gluten-free celiac travel card to ask in those restaurants that you think can serve you safely. I recommend that you wear it in several languages. Once, in Bosnia, I had to show it in 4 languages until I found a “gluten-free” restaurant where I could dine.
------- After The Gluten-Free Trip -------
Although it takes us a while, when we return from our gluten-free trips around the world, we share a post about our experience in gluten-free restaurants, gluten-free bakeries and gluten-free ice-cream parlours that we have tried. Here you can find more than 140 articles about our gluten-free adventures.