I diagnosed myself for gluten intolerance after a lifetime of bizarre, seemingly unrelated afflictions. If my doctors had their way, I would have already undergone neck surgery, still be on 3 different inhalers for asthma, be vomiting daily and having chronic panic attacks. However, since eliminating gluten from my diet in May 2009, I no longer suffer from any of those things. Even with the proof in the pudding (or gluten) my doctors now want me to ingest gluten to test for celiac-no can do.
This is the time of year when families take vacations and travel the world. Traveling can often be stressful even under normal circumstances; packing problems, flight delays, getting lost, are all possible when trying to get from point A to point B. So imagine how stressful it can be for a celiac or gluten-sensitive person to get ready for a big trip, especially to a location that doesn't cater to the gluten-free lifestyle.The following tips are geared toward helping even the most sensitive celiac to have a fun filled and gluten-free vacation while minimizing the stress factor as much as possible. This article covers the following: preparing for your gluten-free travel adventure, gluten-free travel by plane, automobile, train or ship, gluten-free accommodations, gluten-free meals and snacks, what to do if you accidentally ingest gluten.
Before beginning your vacation, there
are many important things you will want to consider, like method of
travel, your destination, and gluten-free options in the city or
town in which you will be staying. To help find gluten-free
accommodations and eatery's in your location, perform a “Google”
search for 'gluten-free restaurants and accommodations' in the area
you will be traveling to.
Traveling by car is the best way to travel, if you have a choice. That way you can stop at stores as needed and load up on your gluten-free snacks. Trains are also good, because they allow and encourage you to bring your own food on the train. Planes and ships are where it starts to get a little trick, especially if you have a long trip ahead of you.
Airlines are fairly easy to manage,
because you can bring your own food aboard the flight. However,
there is a limit to what and how much you are allowed to bring
aboard, which can be a problem on a long flight. While many airlines
offer vegetarian or Kosher options for those with special dietary
needs, most airlines do not have gluten-free menu options for those
of us with gluten-intolerance. However, Continental Airlines
currently offers gluten-free food options. Although, if you are
extremely sensitive to cross-contamination, it is still safer to
bring your own food.
Most motels or hotels offer a continental breakfast and that's about it. Short of eating coffee and orange juice for breakfast,there usually isn't much in the way of meal options for a celiac. However, many small bed and breakfast's will accommodate you special dietary needs if you talk to them and set it up in advanced, and some even offer gluten-free options. To find a gluten-free Inn, perform a “Google” search for 'gluten-free accommodations' in the area you will be traveling to.
Staying with family or friends can be
stressful if they aren't sensitive to your dietary needs. It can also
be difficult to explain to your friends and loved ones, what it means
for you to be gluten-free, and who really wants to spend their entire
vacation educating the everyone you meet on what it means to be
celiac or gluten-sensitive? That could literally take the entire
vacation. If cross-contamination is an issue for you and you are
concerned about eating in a gluten based house, the following link
will help you determine what you need to be free from gluten while
you are staying with others. It might be a good idea to print the
information and share it with your host, maybe even emailing them a
link with the information, prior to your visit.
Finger foods, gluten-free chips/crackers, veggie sticks, gluten-free sandwiches, these are all wonderful foods to keep with you on a trip. Bring as much gluten-free, shelf-stable food with you as possible. Find out where the local farm market is, for fresh and local, organic produce and buy fresh produce when you arrive at your location.
Many people getting ready for a trip,
will place an order online in advance and have it delivered to the
location they will be visiting. The Gluten-Free Mall is very
accommodating and can ship shelf stable food Nationally and
Internationally and frozen goods can be shipped within the
Continental US. Having a package of gluten-free food delivered to
your location, gives you one less thing to worry about. No extra
packing, or extra luggage, no worries about your food getting crushed
or apprehended at customs or tossed out at an airport. It's as
simple as placing an order online or by phone.
The National Foundation for Celiac
Awareness (NFCA) works very hard to train chefs and kitchen staff all
across the globe, on the dos and don't s of cooking gluten-free for
their guests with extreme gluten sensitivities. Check out the list
they have compiled of of GREAT kitchens that have the stamp of
approval from NFCA for a possible location near you.
Unfortunately, not all restaurants have
the GREAT seal of approval from NFCA and the likelihood of one being
at your chosen destination is pretty slim, and finding a dedicated gluten-free restaurants are also rare depending on where you travel. That's why it is important to know
what to do when you go out to eat with a group of gluten-eaters.
There is a great deal of information on this subject, but here are
some links to get you started.
There are varying opinions of what the
best thing to do is when you accidentally ingest gluten, drink ginger
tea, take laxatives, hot water bottle on the abdomen; there really is
no right answer, as everybody is different and has different
reactions to gluten. However, here are some tips that might help if
you accidentally ingest gluten.
Happy and safe travels everyone!