This month’s travel link up theme is food!! Which if you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, you probably notice I incorporate into most posts….. 1) because I love to eat and 2) because I’m gluten free and that really influences my travel experience!
^^phases of joy eating a gluten free croissant in Venice
I’ve eaten gluten free for 4 years now due to a medical condition that gives me excruciating migraines when I consume even trace amounts. More than anything else, this diet affects my travel experiences. It’s easy to eat gluten free at home where I use my own utensils and buy my own ingredients, but traveling to unknown places, especially that speak foreign languages, can cause a lot of stress and uncertainty. Not just because I don’t know if the food I get will be safe, but also because of potential tension and guilt between me and people I travel with about where to eat.
^^ gluten free burrito sandwich at Get Real Café in Wisconsin
Over the years I’ve gotten a lot better at traveling and eating gluten free (stress free!) but I’ve had my share of horror stories along the way (being glutened twice in two days traveling the Greek islands with my college friends, including a 5 hour ferry ride…. ☹️). So I thought I would share my top tips for a great gluten free travel experience!! I hope they can help out anyone in a similar situation. Food allergies and intolerances are really serious but also shouldn’t prevent you from following your dreams!
HOW TO TRAVEL GLUTEN FREE…
- Look up native recipes before you travel. That way you know what’s generally safe on the menu and naturally gluten free even if it’s in a different language – for example I lived on the traditional dish Tagine while in Morocco!
^^ stoking the fire of my very own (naturally) gluten free Tagine!
- Download a gluten free card to show servers and look up relevant words in the country’s language.
^^enjoying gluten free corn tortilla tacos in Valencia, despite my complete lack of Spanish skills!
- Some countries will not know what “gluten” is so make sure you know the words for bread and wheat.
^^still dream of these gluten free blueberry pancakes from the seaside in Oregon…
- Do some research prior – I like to search “gluten free” on trip advisor reviews and have a few restaurants lined up for each city I visit. I find that apps like Find Me Gluten Free aren’t that reliable and are really sparse in some cities, so I just depend on trip advisor which is more universally used.
^^which is how I found a gluten free afternoon tea bus tour of London!
- However don’t obsess over always finding a “gluten free restaurant” – this makes me so stressed, too full, and takes away from doing other things on my trips. It also can cause tension with friends I travel with. Mentally plan for a few nights of salad, that way you won’t be disappointed.
- On that note, make sure your travel buddies understand your condition and will be understanding and willing to accommodate for you. And thank them!
^^my best friends from home totally understand the saga by now and are so accommodating! Here we are eating gluten free and gluteny scones in England!
- Always ask for gluten free options even if you aren’t expecting any! You may be surprised – Norway and Italy have gluten free McDonalds!
^^my gluten free hamburger from Norway’s McDonalds was a nice train companion
- The best country I’ve ever traveled to for gluten free food: Italy (shocking, right??)
- The worst: Greece.
^^actual photo my friend took of me in Greece…basically just slept different places over the island trying to recover from a double glutening
^^Englands also pretty great
- Bring plan B essentials with you. I usually pack some uncooked pasta, granola bars, and oatmeal packets. That way there is always a back up plan.
^^for times when you can’t find a restaurant that serves gluten free waffles at 40 floors up!
- Pack some fiber powder – the change in your diet travel causes, much less on a gluten free diet, can impact your digestive system. When I travel I tend to eat less healthy gluten free options and more unhealthy options – such as a specialty bakery I hunted down. Fiber powder helps make up for this lack of nutrients!
^^this gluten free cupcake in Madrid was awesome but probably didn’t help my digestive system…
I hope these tips help! I’ve learned them over my past 4 years traveling across America, Europe and a bit of Africa while on a strict gluten free diet.
What are your experiences traveling with a food restriction? Do you find it easy or hard? Any tips I missed?
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