Following a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your travel plans. The key to travelling gluten free is planning.
Planning Your Trip
- Do some research before choosing a resort or region. Online forums can be helpful. The Coeliac Society often post member travel queries to their Facebook page so other members can share their experience.
- Call ahead to your accommodation to check they understand coeliac disease and can cater to your diet.
- Self-catering can be a good option if you’d like more control over your meals. Supermarkets in Spain in particular have a great variety of clearly labelled gluten free products. Check online that there is a well-stocked supermarket close to your accommodation.
- Once you have decided on your destination buy an Eating Out Card in the appropriate language. These can be ordered online or by calling the office on 01 872 1471. Cards are available in fifteen languages and can be given to a waiter or chef to explain the Coeliac condition in their language.
- Pinpoint some local restaurants that cater to the coeliac diet before you go. You will probably find more options as you explore the area but a couple of go-to options will ease the stress on your first night or two. Online forums and travel articles can help with your research.
- Pack some gluten free snacks, like crackers. This will save you a rush to the shops as soon as you arrive, especially if you are checking in late at night.
- Arrange travel insurance and inform your insurer that you are coeliac. In EU countries, take the EU Health Insurance card as well as arranging normal travel cover.
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Airports & Airlines
- Check with the airline you are flying with if they provide meals on your intended flight, and whether they can provide a gluten-free meal. This is usually only an option on long-haul flights.
- You can usually request a gluten-free meal under the “Manage my booking” section of the airline’s website, or you can ask your travel agent to arrange one for you. You should call the airline to confirm the meal request 24 hours before your flight.
- If taking a package holiday, let your tour/cruise operator know at the time of booking that you will need gluten free meals for the trip.
- It is a good idea to bring some gluten free snacks with you in case of emergencies. A flight can be very long without food of some sort.
- It might be necessary to get a letter from your doctor to bring gluten free food through customs. Make sure you bring shop-bought items. Packaged foods are easier to explain than tin-foil wrapped homemade items at customs!