Top 6 Tips for Traveling on a Gluten-Free Diet

If you’d like to hit the road during the holiday season, don’t let food worries keep you home. With a little care and planning, you can dine gluten-free, whether you’re visiting Grandma, exploring a big city, or taking the kids to Disney World. Here are some tips for making sure your trip is healthy and enjoyable.

Highway travels. Going by car makes it simple to eat gluten-free. Just pack a cooler with ice and your favorite gluten-free foods. You can replenish your provisions along the way. Before you leave home, do some online research to locate grocery stores that carry gluten-free items. Many chain restaurants now have gluten-free options, too.

Air fare. When traveling by plane, be ready for unexpected delays. You can’t count on finding gluten-free foods once you’re past the security check-in, so always pack a meal. Good options are sandwiches on gluten-free bread, baby carrots, fresh fruit, gluten-free crackers and cookies, string cheese, nuts, and dried fruit. If you plan to pack gluten-free salad dressing, applesauce, or other liquids in your carry-on luggage, keep in mind there is a 3.4-ounce limit.

Several airlines offer gluten-free meals. You will need to make arrangements well in advance. When you check in, let the agent know you’ve ordered a special meal. And mistakes do happen, so when your meal is served, double-check that it’s gluten-free.

Dining out. Finding gluten-free fare in an unfamiliar locale can be challenging. Your best bet is to research restaurant options on the Internet or call the local chapter of a celiac organization before you leave home. Several apps for smartphones let you search by city for gluten-free–friendly restaurants and read menus and customer reviews.  Don’t overlook large, natural food stores that have deli counters and salad bars with gluten-free offerings.

Friendly hospitality. If you’re staying with family or friends, let them know ahead of time about your diet restrictions, so they can have appropriate foods on hand. Be gracious and keep your needs simple.

Gluten-free lodging. A growing number of B&Bs, inns, and resorts cater to people who must avoid gluten. Many cruise lines do, too. Be sure you read recent reviews before making your choice. And whether you’re staying in a national park, small town, or big city, you can usually find lodging with a kitchenette so you can do your own cooking.

Going overseas. Check online, gluten-free travel forums, and the websites of celiac organizations in your destination country for restaurant and grocery shopping recommendations. If you don’t speak the language where you’re traveling, carry a card that describes your diet needs and lists the foods you must avoid in the appropriate language. You can find free, downloadable “dining cards” in more than a dozen languages on some gluten-free travel websites.

Key Takeaways

  • You can’t count on finding gluten-free foods at the airport, although several airlines offer gluten-free meals.
  • To find gluten-free fare in an unfamiliar locale, research restaurant options online or call the local chapter of a celiac organization.
  • If you’re staying with family or friends, let them know ahead of time about your diet restrictions.
  • If you don’t speak the language where you’re traveling, carry a card that describes your diet needs and lists the foods you must avoid.

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