Travelling with Coeliac Disease can be difficult, especially when you add a language barrier into the mix. Holiday’s are a time for relaxing, exploring and trying new experiences. However, having an allergy, food intolerance or auto-immune disease like Coeliac can make it a nightmare.
I’ve recently booked a last minute holiday to Crete and it’s time to get my gluten free planning head on! As this is my 3rd time travelling abroad with Coeliac Disease, I thought I’d share my tips on how to have a happy, relaxing and illness-free holiday!
1. Download translation cards
This will always be my number one priority when going abroad. I have been printing off the Celiac Travel restaurant cards to take with me on holiday since my first gluten free trip abroad. You simply choose the language of the country you’re visiting, download and print the translation card.
You can then present the card to the waiter/manager when you’re dining, and it will explain the foods you can/can’t eat and the seriousness of cross-contamination. Majority of the time the waiter will take this card straight to the chef, so they’re 100% certain on what you’re allowed to eat.
2. Research, research, research
It might seem obvious, but there’s nothing better than having a good ‘ol search on Google for local areas that may serve gluten free food. I find it helps to make a list of the local shops, or big supermarkets that are most likely to sell GF products. It’s also handy to research any restaurants who advertise GF on their website, or have gluten free reviews on Trip Advisor.
Having a list of these shops/restaurants and the distance from your accommodation will make life much easier when you’re on holiday. Especially if you’re hot, tired or hangry – you’ll be thankful for that list!
Another great way to research the area you’re staying at is to search in the Coeliac travel Facebook group – Coeliacs Eat Abroad
You can search for the area you’re staying and see if anyone else has posted about their experience in that location, or simply post your own question. The gluten free community are extremely helpful and love sharing their (good and bad) experiences.
Never be afraid to ask others for advice!
3. Pack your own food
As lovely as it is to eat out at every meal and try new cuisines, I would always advise packing your own snacks and GF essentials in your suitcase if you’re travelling with Coeliac Disease.
I usually make my own breakfast/lunch in my hotel room, and have dinner at a local restaurant. That is my preferred way of eating on holiday, as it limits the amount of times you could potentially get ill to only one a day!
Here are some of the foods I like to pack in my suitcase;
- Homemade granola – pop a handful of granola in a sandwich bag and take it down to breakfast with you. Serve with milk/yoghurt and fruit.
- Squeezy nut butter – Pip & Nut’s are perfect!
- Porridge pots – great for lazy mornings, simply add fruit/nut butter.
- Breakfast bars
- GF bread – make your own sandwiches or toast (don’t forget toastie bags!)
- Tins of tuna/mackerel – perfect for salads
- Energy bars
4. Plan your aeroplane meal
Thanks to the changes in hand luggage laws, you’re now allowed to bring your own food onto the plane (solid food only).
This is great for anyone who is gluten free, as you can buy GF snacks/sandwiches etc at the airport (providing they have a selection available) and you don’t have to worry about disastrous GF aeroplane meals!
I’m going to Crete in a couple of days, which is a 4 hour flight. I’ll be picking up snack bars, crisps, a sandwich if GF is available and of course some chocolate! I usually buy way too many snacks to keep in my hand luggage, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
This may not be ideal for long-haul flights, so please still contact your airline to ask what gluten free options they have available.
5. Download the Google Translate app
This app was such a lifesaver for me on my last holiday! On the app you can take a photo of the ingredients list on the back of the product you’d like to buy, choose the language you wish to translate and it will scan the text and change it to English/your preferred language!
You can then read the ingredients and easily pick out any mention of gluten. I found this extremely helpful when shopping for things like yoghurt/crisps/juice etc, where you’re not 100% sure if it’s gluten free.
If you’re planning a holiday abroad and would like a tips on travelling with Coeliac Disease, please leave a comment below as I’d love to chat!
Alternatively, if you’re unsure on where to travel next, have a read of my GF travel series below – they were both great for gluten free food.
GF Travel Diaries: Turkey
GF Travel Diares: Barcelona