5 survival tips you need to know as a gluten-free traveller – I know we can’t really travel like we used to right now… but there’s no better time to swot up instead!
5 survival tips you need to know as a gluten-free traveller! Yep, that way, when it is safer to travel again, you can be doubly prepared for dodging gluten in a foreign country. Let’s get started…
1. Do your research.
I’ve said this time and time again, but always do your research! A quick Google of ‘gluten-free *insert country/city name here* is always a good start.
Plus, go on Facebook, join some gluten-free groups (even just UK based ones) and search them for the country/city you’re heading to. If there is no post about a certain country or city, then just make a new one asking the group for recommendations.
I’ve been known to book my holiday destination based on this research, so trust me, it is well worth doing!
Of course, remember that recommendations are only recommendations, so don’t take any of it as gospel! When you arrive at said restaurant, in said country, remember to use your own judgement too.
After all, some may have shut down since said person went or it may have changed hands.
For example, there used to be an amazing gluten-free Creperie in Brighton, but they sadly sold the business on… and the next owners ditched serving gluten-free entirely, but the actual front of the building and signs still looked identical. So be careful out there!
2. Be especially weary of street food.
On my travels, I’ve found that 95% of the time, safe, gluten-free street food is very rare.
Why? Well, they’re often working on very small stalls (never good for cross contamination), often aren’t clued up about gluten and usually lack the ability to clean kitchen pans that have been used to cook gluten all day.
So that’s why I’ve found to generally avoid street food unless you know otherwise. For example, at Camden Market in London, there’s places like Arepa Bros where everything they serve happens to be gluten-free – there’s no gluten on their stall, fullstop!
But again, knowing things like that often comes from doing a bit of research online first. So yes, it is possible to find street food that’s safe to eat, but don’t expect to just stumble upon them. Do you research first!
(am I sounding like a broken record yet?)
3. Look up your destination’s Coeliac Society before you go.
This is an amazing tip I learned when I went to Rome, then Florence too. Italy happens to have an AMAZING Italian Coeliac Association which has a massive list of restaurants that are safe for us to eat at.
Best of all, when you go to these restaurants, they’re clearly indicated with a big sticker on the door, like the ones you can see below.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that a Coeliac Society exists in every country across the world, but it’s often a great first port of call when doing a little research.
You wouldn’t believe how much fun we had in Rome trying to spot all those big, red AiC stickers ?
4. Learn a little crucial lingo.
Ok, I’m not asking you to be fluent in a foreign language just so you can buy a sandwich!
But trust me, I found that even just knowing the phase ‘gluten-free’ – how it’s spelt and how to pronounce it – was so incredibly helpful. This feels like very obvious information, but I just wanted to hammer it home!
Also just knowing the words ‘wheat’, ‘barley’ etc. is great too because it allows you to better read the ingredients labels on products.
Even when I encountered waiters who couldn’t speak English, I could just say something like ‘sin gluten’ (Spanish), ‘sans gluten’ (French), ‘senza glutine’ (Italian) and they’d bring me the gluten-free menu.
Learning how to say thank you in a different language goes a long way too!
(once again, being brought the gluten-free menu was possible because I was in a place where I knew they had a gluten-free menu… because I’d already researched the place!)
5. If in doubt, take food with you.
This is my mantra in life no matter where I am, but it applies even more when you’re a thousand miles or more away from home.
Going on the plane? Take food with you. Going somewhere you haven’t researched? Take food with you. Going on a tour? DEFINITELY take food with you.
Not only will you not go hungry, but taking safe, gluten-free food only minimises the risk that you end up eating something you’re not 100% sure of.
When Mark and I find a gluten-free bakery on holiday, I often stock up for the next day or two and carry a few ‘plan Bs’ with me.
Failing that, you can always bring food from the free from aisle at home. You never know when you might need something! If you end up needing it – then great – and if you don’t end up needing it… then great!
So that’s the 5 survival tips you need to know as a gluten-free traveller! Did I miss any out? What would be your number 1 tip to share with other gluten-free travellers?
Let me know by leaving a comment below this post. Thanks so much for reading and stay safe on your travels!