By EA Stewart, MBA, RD, of The Spicy RD
It’s that time of the year…
Schools out, summer’s upon us, and it’s time to hit the road again. As exciting as traveling is, it can be stressful, especially if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and need to eat gluten-free.
As someone who was bitten by the travel bug at a very young age, and who has been eating gluten-free for several years now, I’m here to share some of my favorite safe and delicious tips for travelling gluten-free.
Tip #1: Have Snacks, Will Travel
Get your trip off to a safe start by making sure to pack your own gluten-free snacks and easy meals should you find yourself stranded without any good gluten-free options. Energy bars and trail mix are “must haves” in my carry on. Other favorite options include individual packages of nut butters, bags of certified gluten-free granola/oats, and gluten-free crackers. Pair the cereal with fresh fruit and yogurt or milk, and the crackers with some veggies, fruit, and cheese, and you have an “in-a-pinch,” healthy gluten-free meal.
Tip #2: Make Friends with the Locals
I recently went on a two-week trip to New Zealand with my family, and before I headed down South, I asked some local New Zealand bloggers via Twitter to share their favorite gluten-free restaurants and resources with me. What a great response I got! The gluten-free community is a fabulous group of people who really want to help each other out. Not on Twitter? Check the Internet to find out if the town you are visiting has a local celiac or gluten-free support group and ask them for recommendations. I’m sure you’ll get just as great a response as I did!
Tip #3: Visit a Farmer’s Market
One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to check out the local farmer’s markets and food halls for naturally gluten-free produce and other yummy finds. Last summer my family and I spent a day in Boise, ID before heading to the river for a white water rafting trip, and I was amazed by the offerings at the weekend farmer’s market. Not only did we pick up a huge basket of local fresh berries, but I also had to sample a brownie from the gluten-free bakery stand. If you are travelling in the U.S., be sure and check out Local Harvest for links to farmer’s markets so you can enjoy the same healthy and delicious produce the locals eat!
Tip #4: Is There An App For That?
It’s safe to say, that gluten-free traveling has gotten a lot easier with the advent of smartphones and smartphone apps! There are more and more gluten-free friendly apps on the market these days, but a couple to start with include: Find Me Gluten-Free, a guide to gluten-free restaurants in the U.S., and GF American, an app version of the popular Triumph Dining cards. In addition to the American guide, which is in English and Spanish, there are also versions available in Chinese, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese.
Tip #5: It’s Not All About the Food. Soak Up the Local Culture and Have Fun!
It’s easy to get stressed out about safe gluten-free options when eating out away from home, but try to remember you are on vacation and should be soaking up the local culture and having fun. If you follow the above tips, you can focus the rest of your energies on meeting new people, exploring new towns, taking photographs to share with your friends and family back home, and maybe, just maybe, enjoying a little R & R!
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness offers Vitacost.com website visitors weekly recipes and blogs about living the gluten-free lifestyle. For more information about celiac disease and gluten-free living, visit www.celiaccentral.org.