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Gluten Free Traveller

Anxieties When Travelling As A Celiac

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Travelling can be challenging when you're celiac. A vacation or a business trip isn't as simple as it was before.

Personally what I find most difficult is trying to communicate with a chef/server in a different language...if we barely know what each other is saying then it's quite the challenge trying to work out whether or not they understand what celiac disease is and what I mean by cross contamination.

What concerns you most/makes you most anxious about travelling gluten free / as a celiac?

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Mine is getting glutened on a flight. On a long haul flight you usually get a meal about an hour after take off, and another about 2 hours before landing. If I get glutened I know almost exactly 2 hours later when I have to run to the bathroom. So the first doesn't worry me too much, since I have the rest of the flight to be sick (I'm never stuck in the bathroom for too long, I'm lucky that with a one off glutening my reactions are short and sharp!). But the one before landing - eek. The timing means that I'd possibly be running to the bathroom at a time when I'm not allowed to get up from my seat. I don't know how the flight attendants would react, and it would all round be an embarrassing nightmare. I always end up taking preventative immodium (and I don't even know if it works like that but it makes me feel better and doesn't seem to do any harm).

I've not had any problems with the airline gluten free meals, they have been completely fine (V Australia and Air NZ - I've done gluten free long haul flights 6 times now). It's my seat mates accidentally getting me with their crumbs that I'm more worried about. So I'm always super paranoid about hand washing and I'm even more hyper vigilant about touching my mouth. On the plus side, I always get my special meal way ahead of the regular meals being served, which really cuts down on the likelihood of cc.

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Travelling can be challenging when you're celiac. A vacation or a business trip isn't as simple as it was before.

Personally what I find most difficult is trying to communicate with a chef/server in a different language...if we barely know what each other is saying then it's quite the challenge trying to work out whether or not they understand what celiac disease is and what I mean by cross contamination.

What concerns you most/makes you most anxious about travelling gluten free / as a celiac?

When I travel to other countries I always use little laminated restaurant cards to ensure we understand one another. :)

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My biggest concerns are the long flights/layovers/delays. Once I am at my destination I'm fine - it's just getting there that bothers me!

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Getting stuck on a plane without food because you're trapped. On one occasion, they gave away my gluten free meal to someone else, but I had lots of food with me so I was okay. But on a previous flight, due to delays, problems with the plane, etc., I was stuck on a plane for 16 hours. The flight was only 8 hours. Luckily, I had some food with me but was already starting to ration it because I had no idea when I was going to be able to get off the plane!

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My biggest fear is having security take away my safe food (yes I know they are SUPPOSED to let non-liquids through but my husband has had Lays Stax taken away at security before and it really concerns me). Second biggest fear is getting stuck overnight in an airport somewhere and running out of the food I brought and not being able to find safe food. I have to eat every 2-3 hours because of hypoglycemia. I mostly control it with lower carb options but that's harder to do when traveling.

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My biggest fear is having security take away my safe food (yes I know they are SUPPOSED to let non-liquids through but my husband has had Lays Stax taken away at security before and it really concerns me). Second biggest fear is getting stuck overnight in an airport somewhere and running out of the food I brought and not being able to find safe food. I have to eat every 2-3 hours because of hypoglycemia. I mostly control it with lower carb options but that's harder to do when traveling.

I actually did have food confiscated once. I arrived in Australia with trail mix and hadn't realized that the nuts were raw and not roasted. Roasted nuts are okay, raw are not (I guess because they can carry disease).

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I actually did have food confiscated once. I arrived in Australia with trail mix and hadn't realized that the nuts were raw and not roasted. Roasted nuts are okay, raw are not (I guess because they can carry disease).

Yeah, raw foods (or any meat, dairy etc) are definite no nos to australia and New Zealand. Along with a bunch of other products too. Declare everything! That arrivals card is taken very seriously and you don't get into trouble if you ask questions and are open about what you have, but there are big fines otherwise. Being island nations we can keep a really strict control on things like this. We're used to it - we've been trained well to take it very seriously and we know what to declare - but I hear non - aussies complain all the time about losing stuff to the quarantine officers (my friend lost a bag of almonds. I warned her, but I'm sure she thought I was being over the top and it would be like LAX where they get you to declare stuff and then don't ask any questions about what you declared. They x-ray parcels too - I've also not received gifts sent in the post because they've been confiscated by quarantine.It's sad opening a present to find a letter from quarantine instead of the actual gift!)

But on the plus side, at least you're losing it before you enter Australia where you'll be able to get safe foods again. It would be really bad losing something at security before a flight.

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Interesting. Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm always fascinated to hear the thoughts of fellow gluten free travellers. :)

So it sounds as though the actual process of getting to your location brings a lot of anxiety. Do these anxieties stop you from travelling?

How about once you make it to your destination? What anxieties/concerns do you have once you arrive in New York, Paris or Rio for example?

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Yeah, raw foods (or any meat, dairy etc) are definite no nos to australia and New Zealand. Along with a bunch of other products too. Declare everything! That arrivals card is taken very seriously and you don't get into trouble if you ask questions and are open about what you have, but there are big fines otherwise. Being island nations we can keep a really strict control on things like this.

Interesting..I didn't realise Oz and New Zealand were tough on brining produce in. Chile is very much like that too! They have huge signs when you go through customs of fruit with big crosses through it! :)

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Interesting. Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm always fascinated to hear the thoughts of fellow gluten free travellers. :)

So it sounds as though the actual process of getting to your location brings a lot of anxiety. Do these anxieties stop you from travelling?

How about once you make it to your destination? What anxieties/concerns do you have once you arrive in New York, Paris or Rio for example?

The anxiety does not stop me from traveling - we own a lovely house in Croatia and Croatia is where my heart is. However, as I posted on another thread, we had to postpone our trip (we were to be leaving this past weekend) due to my being ill and in a lot of pain. Severe chronic pain and travel causes me far more anxiety than celiac does because I cannot escape it. Once I arrive I am fine as I do a lot of research for each country we go to well in advance. I am a planner! :)

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Yeah, raw foods (or any meat, dairy etc) are definite no nos to australia and New Zealand. Along with a bunch of other products too. Declare everything! That arrivals card is taken very seriously and you don't get into trouble if you ask questions and are open about what you have, but there are big fines otherwise. Being island nations we can keep a really strict control on things like this. We're used to it - we've been trained well to take it very seriously and we know what to declare - but I hear non - aussies complain all the time about losing stuff to the quarantine officers (my friend lost a bag of almonds. I warned her, but I'm sure she thought I was being over the top and it would be like LAX where they get you to declare stuff and then don't ask any questions about what you declared. They x-ray parcels too - I've also not received gifts sent in the post because they've been confiscated by quarantine.It's sad opening a present to find a letter from quarantine instead of the actual gift!)

But on the plus side, at least you're losing it before you enter Australia where you'll be able to get safe foods again. It would be really bad losing something at security before a flight.

I actually was going to declare it, and had written it on the arrival card, but a cute little dog sniffed me out before I even made it to the quarantine officers!

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I actually was going to declare it, and had written it on the arrival card, but a cute little dog sniffed me out before I even made it to the quarantine officers!

Oh dear! But hee, they are so cute. When I fly to Tasmania there's an extra degree of protection - we can't even bring in produce from mainland Australia. One time years ago the sniffer dog got a lady who'd saved the pudding from the plane (with kiwi fruit on the top). It was hilarious. She'd obviously not paid any attention to any of the signs and announcements and she was wailing "I don't have drugs, I don't have drugs!". The quarantine officer was all "madam, we are concerned about the fruit!"

Going back to the question - I don't stress much when I arrive. I'm a thorough researcher. But it is tricky if don't have something to tide me over when I first arrive. You have to have a plan. Especially in Los Angeles, which, without a car, requires much planning in advance. My last trip I flew to LA, took the Fly Away to Union Station and got a train to San Diego. That was all fine but I had to do it on snacks I already had with me. But once in San Diego I was fine as my hotel had a fridge and there's a big supermarket down town in walking distance.

I like to work out which supermarkets and Chipotles are easily accessed by public transport. In LA there's a Chipotle very close to the 7th and Metro stop downtown, it's very handy. The Chicago loop area has heaps. Washington DC Union Station even has one right at the station! I do a lot of my US travel by myself (in between visiting friends) so it's my absolute fave place to eat.

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The anxiety does not stop me from traveling - we own a lovely house in Croatia and Croatia is where my heart is. However, as I posted on another thread, we had to postpone our trip (we were to be leaving this past weekend) due to my being ill and in a lot of pain. Severe chronic pain and travel causes me far more anxiety than celiac does because I cannot escape it. Once I arrive I am fine as I do a lot of research for each country we go to well in advance. I am a planner! :)

That's great to hear it doesn't stop you from travelling. I know it certainly does for some celiacs which is why I started my website when I was diagnosed to encourage people that it can be done. :)

oooh, Croatia is so beautiful. Where abouts in the country is your house? Sorry to hear that your chronic pain isn't allowing you to get there at this time. :( My husband and I spent 10 days driving around Slovenia and Croatia a few years back. A beautiful part of the world and definitely somewhere I want to go back to. What's it like finding gluten free food in Croatia?? I was there in pre-celiac days.

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That's great to hear it doesn't stop you from travelling. I know it certainly does for some celiacs which is why I started my website when I was diagnosed to encourage people that it can be done. :)

oooh, Croatia is so beautiful. Where abouts in the country is your house? Sorry to hear that your chronic pain isn't allowing you to get there at this time. :( My husband and I spent 10 days driving around Slovenia and Croatia a few years back. A beautiful part of the world and definitely somewhere I want to go back to. What's it like finding gluten free food in Croatia?? I was there in pre-celiac days.

You are right - it CAN be done! I absolutely refuse to allow it to prevent me from doing what I love most. Good for you for starting the website.

Croatia is stunning, isn't it? Our house is in Istria, a 2.5 hour drive or boat ride from Venice. Our house is 200 years old, traditional stone, surrounded by forest and vineyards and olive groves, as well as being only a short drive from the sea. It is so incredible and seems so surreal. We are in love with the culture, history, climate, language and so on (am learning Croatian).

Gluten-free food can be tricky to find there if you are looking for snacks. So, I stick with whole fresh foods normally. But I do take snacks along from Canada for airports and such. But gluten-free foods are possible to find in pharmacies and some larger grocery stores. We also pick up yummy things from Italy on our way. As far as eating out goes, it is easier there than where we live in Canada as people seem so knowledgable about it (not everyone but the higher-end places do). We always take along detailed restaurant cards in Italian, Slovenian, Croatian...and upon reading them the servers and/or chefs nod understandingly. Often we buy fresh seafood and veg to grill in our outdoor wood-fired oven (and pick wild herbs, our own figs, nuts around the house) for meals, too. We know people who literally live off the land (and sea) there. They forage for mushrooms and such, too. And we are in the middle of the famous white truffles!!!!

Where did you spend time in Croatia and Slovenia?

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Yes, it's beautiful and the people are very friendly. In Slovenia we travelled to Ljubljana (which is one of my favourite cities in Europe),Bled, Postojna and some short stops in between. In Croatia, we drove down the coast and stayed in Zadar and a couple of other places along the coast. Beautiful.

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My biggest fear is having security take away my safe food (yes I know they are SUPPOSED to let non-liquids through but my husband has had Lays Stax taken away at security before and it really concerns me). Second biggest fear is getting stuck overnight in an airport somewhere and running out of the food I brought and not being able to find safe food. I have to eat every 2-3 hours because of hypoglycemia. I mostly control it with lower carb options but that's harder to do when traveling.

ciao, I am italia and the fear of security is mine too. Once I was in Cancun airport I had some salame slices snacks to have with crakers.....they took it even thought I was trying to explain them it was for my daughter.....but they did not know the word gluten in qny language.......

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