Stepping up to a falafel cart in Jerusalem was thrilling, especially when I asked the owner to make the falafel how he likes it: with everything on it. I could identify only three of the ingredients he added to my falafel, but that is the charm of experiencing local cuisine.
Unfortunately, the excitement of enjoying local cuisine while traveling turned to fear when I learned that I needed to eat gluten-free foods due to Celiac Disease. However, you can still enjoy traveling the globe and trying new foods while living gluten free. Here are some suggestions for gluten-free travelers to make vacationing more about experiencing than worrying.
Do Your Homework
Before leaving on vacation, take time to do some research. Look into the local cuisines of the places you will be visiting. What are the most popular dishes and their ingredients? If you are traveling where there is a language difference, what are some short phrases you can use to ensure you are selecting a safe option? Getting a head start can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and confused when ordering—especially if there is a language barrier or a vague menu.
Have a Backup Plan
Sometimes there aren’t safe, gluten-free options where you are—and that’s okay! Taking snacks and on-the-go meal options can be a great backup plan if local cuisine options aren’t gluten-free. This can make going out on all-day excursions less about worrying and more about soaking in adventures.
Use Your Resources
There are several websites and phone apps that can guide you to gluten-free restaurants and entrée options.
- Gluten-Free Restaurant Cards from CeliacTravel.com. This app allows you to communicate with restaurant workers in over 40 languages to ensure safe service. Not understanding the waiter can be nerve-wracking enough without the added pressure of diet restrictions.
- Find Me Gluten Free is available for Apple and Android devices. This app helps travelers find local restaurants with gluten-free options, so you know exactly what to expect even before arriving.
- Gluten-Free Scanners are available for Mac and Android devices. This app allows for a quick detection of gluten products while shopping in grocery stores by simply scanning barcodes. Safe grocery shopping is a must if you are planning to fill hotel fridges with gluten-free snacks and meals.
- Traveling gluten free doesn’t have to be the end of enjoying and experiencing local cuisine. Prepare before you leave and take advantage of the many resources that are available so that you can quit worrying and start living.
Featured photo by a young shanahan (Falafel) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons