TIPS + RECOMMENDATIONS TO TRAVEL WITH CELIAC DISEASE
LEARN HOW TO PREPARE + TRAVEL WELL
TRAVEL GUIDELINES BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University
The most important thing is to plan ahead! Travel (international or domestic), dining out, or even a Sunday afternoon hike are all great opportunities to enjoy life – gluten-free. Celiac disease and the gluten free-free diet is very manageable. With some planning, you can eat safely when traveling by land, air, or sea and maintain a nutritious, diverse, gluten-free diet once you reach your destination.
Traveling should not be a big deal. People may feel more comfortable when planning ahead. If one is traveling by plane or train, you may be able to organize menus with different airlines or at least know in advance that none of the items offered is gluten-free. You can then bring your own food along. This may also apply to car travel in areas where gluten-free products are not available.
If possible, pack gluten-free food to bring with you when you travel. Good choices include peanut butter, tuna fish, crackers, cheese sticks, fruit, nuts, pretzels, bars, and trail mix. Even if you think you won’t need it, delays or other unforeseen events could arise, leaving you hungry and without access to gluten-free food.
For all travel contact the hotel / resort / cruise ship where you will be staying to identify available resources. Find out what facilities the room has: is there a refrigerator, toaster oven, microwave, or coffee pot? If there isn’t one in the room, would you have access to one? Find out if the hotel is able to provide you with recommendations of restaurants or supermarkets nearby.
Once you know what is available, you will know what types of goodies you can plan to bring, or have shipped to the site. Next, find out if there is a dining room in the hotel. Are meals included and can they provide for your diet? Calling ahead makes all the difference in the world. You will have peace of mind and the hotel / restaurant will be better prepared to serve you. It may be helpful for you to suggest gluten-free products with accompanying website information for easy ordering. With advance notice, hotel catering staff is generally receptive to providing gluten-free catering for special occasions, conferences, etc.
Planning ahead is very important and will help you reach your destination in a safe and enjoyable manner. You may need immunizations and medications depending on your destination, activities, length of stay, and health history. Most vaccines take time to become effective so consult with your physician several months prior to your trip. Try to do some reading on local food in the particular country or region you are traveling to. There may be some delicious gluten-free options available!
International Travel Resources:
Consider shipping some food and snacks to the hotel ahead of time. Make sure that all packages are clearly marked and let the manager know. Plan to have it couriered the day prior to your arrival. This will ensure that your favorite gluten-free foods will be ready and waiting when you arrive. If you will be changing hotels, have packages sent accordingly to each destination. This saves you from carrying a suitcase of gluten-free treats. However, if you decide to carry your food with you, as you nibble your way through your trip, you will give yourself more room for souvenirs.
Although in-flight meal service is becoming less common, airlines that provide meals may offer a gluten-free option.
All airlines require advanced notice, so ask about the procedure when booking your flight and call to confirm a day or two before your trip. Always pack extra food that can be eaten if your gluten-free meal is not provided or for your wait at the airport.
Traveling by car is easy. Pack a cooler or picnic basket and enjoy! Things that are easy to enjoy on long car rides include cheese, fruit, and packed sandwiches. Fast-food chains often provide allergen information. If you do stop at a restaurant, ask questions or look for a brochure or listing with information.
Hiking and backpacking are celiac heaven. There are so many gluten-free meal replacement bars; trail mixes are a great high-protein, gluten-free food and work well together well whether used as a mid-hike snack, post-run nibble, or fueling up for a day on the slopes. Many rice bowls and vegetarian bowls/packets are gluten-free, lightweight, and just require boiling water for a delicious on-the-trail meal. Of course, don’t forget the fresh fruit, plenty of water, and a good gluten-free chocolate bar for energy.
Several cruise lines now offer gluten-free meals. Some even bake their own gluten-free bread and rolls. Some cruises offer naturally gluten-free food as part of the buffet at every meal. As this varies from cruise to cruise, it’s best to check ahead of time. Upon arrival, speak with the maître d’ about your need for a gluten-free diet and for advice and guidance throughout the trip.
Eating out at restaurants should not be a big deal. You may feel more comfortable by planning ahead. This may involve calling ahead, looking at menus, or speaking with the maître d’. Some restaurants even have gluten-free menus online.
It may help to find gluten-free restaurants through the Internet, reliable blogs, social media, or local support groups. However, using gluten-free restaurants is not usually a necessity for the enjoyment of dining out.
No matter how you travel, it is always good to bring your nutrition guide and dining card and have your survival stash in your daypack, carry-on luggage, or in your briefcase. Pack a couple of plastic bags of trail mix, meal replacement bars, foil pouches of tuna, nuts, or crackers. If you are delayed, you will still have snacks available.
Remember that traveling is fun! Enjoy yourself.
With proper planning, you will arrive at your destination with the resources you need to have a terrific vacation!
Harrison Roman, G., & Stern, E. B. (Eds.). (2020). The ultimate guide to gluten-free living. New York, NY: Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. pp. 93-97.
TRAVEL COMPANY RECOMMENDATIONS
Bob & Ruth’s Gluten Free Dining & Travel
Our mission is to make going out to eat and traveling on a Gluten-free diet easier – and therefore more enjoyable for those on the Gluten-free diet – and those who share their lives.
Since Bob is a Celiac and strictly follows the Gluten-free Diet, we have personal understanding of many of the trials and tribulations that others on the Gluten-free diet face. It can be difficult at times trying to maintain a healthy happy lifestyle, while maintaining a strict Gluten-free diet – especially when going out to eat and even more so when traveling.