Travel can bring a lot of uncertainty and apprehension for people with gluten-free diets. From the moment you arrive at the airport, to the plane journey, to arriving in a new city, there’s always the worry that there won’t be any dietary options available for you.
However, there are some simple steps to ensure that travel for gluten free eating is simple and stress free. Health coach Erika Schlick, who creates gluten-free dining guides, says that it’s all about research and preparation to make travel stress free.
“Traveling as a celiac or someone with dietary restrictions can be a little tricky,” she says, “but fortunately, it is getting a lot easier with some planning and knowing what snacks to bring and pack.” Below, she outlines her top tips for her.
Bring Your Own Snacks
“A quick snack can be a lifesaver on long travel days or when you’re out sightseeing,” Schlick says. Energy bars are one of her top recommendations from Ella, which can be carried in a backpack or purse, and work as a filling snack to keep you going until you can sit down for a proper meal.
“I particularly love blueberry, chocolate, or lemon poppyseed,” she says. “They can be a perfect on-the-go breakfast with some coffee or a snack to take on a day of exploring.” Her next pick from her is chocolate-dipped nuts — especially almonds — which she describes as her “guilty pleasure.” “Almonds are the perfect craving when you want something sweet, but want a healthier protein.”
If you’re looking for something a bit more savory, Schlick recommends a collagen bar, which can keep hunger at bay. “They are small but powerful,” she adds. “One of those bars can satisfy hunger for hours. If you put them in the fridge or freezer, they tend to hold up even better. I always have one in my purse for when I feel like I am crashing and need a snack.”
Register Your Dietary Requirements
This is an absolute must for long-haul flights. It might be the last thing on your mind when you’re getting ready for a trip, but nothing ruins that pre-vacation buzz than finding out there’s quite literally nothing on board that you can eat. The ‘hanger’ will kick in, and you’ll be off to a bad start before you know it.
“Always make sure you tell your airline of your dietary requirements so there’s a meal on board for you when you’re thousands of feet in the air with no other options,” Schlick says. She also recommends you plan ahead as far as possible. “If you’re staying in a hotel, give them a call to check if there are options, or request that provisions are made for your stay.” If you have any day trips or planned tours where food is included, make sure to notify them ahead of time, too.
Research the Area
“One of the most frustrating things about traveling as a gluten-free foodie is parading up and down streets of restaurants looking for something with options, and ones that suit your craving,” Schlick says. Nevertheless, she’s become something of an expert in finding the best gluten-free spots in cities across the United States, and further afield in Europe, too. She has a whole section on her blog dedicated to gluten free food guides, covering cities like Los Angeles, Portland, and Chicago. You should dedicate a little bit of time before your trip to look at what’s around your hotel and any sightseeing spots you’re planning on visiting. “By finding restaurants for each day and pre-booking them, it will not only give a bit more structure to your days, but also remove the stress and uncertainty of trying to find somewhere to eat every day.”
Consider Self-Catered Accommodation
“Having a dietary requirement is always a learning process, and eating out can be a bit of a stressful experience for some people,” Schlick says. “You may feel better cooking your own food and sticking to your own routine.”
Celiacs may also experience general sensitivity when it comes to food, and drastic changes in diet can be uncomfortable and cause bloating. Self-catered accommodation is a great option for people who don’t want to disrupt their dietary routine or eating habits too much, whether it’s an Airbnb, apartment at a resort, or something a bit more unusual like a glamping pod.
Spend a little bit more time planning to save yourself lots of hassle when you’re traveling, and enjoy all the gluten free indulgence your heart desires.
Find out more gluten free travel tips on Erika Schlick’s blog, Trail to Health.
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