Summer holidays are among us and it’s likely that we have all been planning for a while where to go to relax, unwind, play the sport that we enjoy the most, or simply get a change of scenery and get to know somewhere new.
Being a celiac, may seem to be a problem depending on which country you are visiting, but I can assure you that when there is a will there is a way and planning in advance is a big part of it. Worst come to worst, we can always go for a grilled chicken.
The only difference between the non-celiacs, and ourselves is that we have to plan in advance. I’m going to share with you my tricks and tips to avoid having as many problems as we possibly can.
Preparing a card or a memo on our smartphone, with a basic description of what the celiac disease is and some phrases related to which ingredients we cannot eat in the mother tongue of the country we are visiting is an absolute must. By doing this, you break the ice with the waiter and you make sure that you get the message across. You can always rely on a free online translator, or even get somehelp from the local tourist information office to do this.
The next step is about accommodation. Look for hotels that offer gluten free options or that know about our requirements so that they can adjust their menu. Normally, hotels don’t state this on their webpages so I tend to contact them in advance via email. Once you get a reply, I recommend that you get confirmation in writing and attach it to your booking. Local tourist information offices and / or coeliac local associations can probably help you.
If you don’t have the time to do this in advance, I recommend that you use CeliCity, where you can now find gluten-free shops and venues in more than 16 countries. This way you can buy your breakfast products in advance.
Once I have found my hotel, I start looking for the city points of interest and locate them on a map. As soon as I’ve found them, I start using CeliCity’s other search function: restaurants.
Their offer is based on crowd sourcing so normally you get the local “usual suspects”, but on top of these, you also find in CeliCity those little places that are off the beaten track (which are the ones that local associations will normally miss). On top of that, in CeliCity you also find other fellow celiacs or gluten-free stylers reviews, who have already visited the restaurant so you get an accurate view on price and gluten free range offering. A good tip is to look for restaurant chains, since they normally tend to have the same offer across all of their venues.
If you are taking a package tour, you can describe your requirements to the agency and get your travel guide toget the message across for you to waiters, hotel staff and chefs.
Failing all of the previous ones, you can always leave a little extra space on your luggage to pack some gluten free toasts, bread or biscuits, which can help you get through until you find the next place.
I’m attaching below a little extract of my travelling experiences as a celiac in different countries, and how gluten-free friendly I’ve found each one of them. If you want to see more pictures from my gluten free trips, you can search them on Instagram via: glutenfreetrips