One of the biggest challenges facing someone who is newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease is typically the fear of eating and traveling in public. As awareness grows, dining in restaurants has become a little safer, but traveling gluten-free can still be really difficult if you aren’t careful. Through practice and preparation things get better, and there are a number of great resources on the internet for just about anywhere you plan on visiting!
Below you’ll find a number of gluten-free traveling tips, resources, and more we’ve put together to help you learn to travel safely while following a strict gluten-free diet!
Tips for Traveling Gluten-Free:
- Build a Pre-Travel Checklist – It is always easier to remember everything when you have a checklist! Make sure while doing your travel preparation that you create a checklist and add to it as you go. Over time, if you travel a lot, you can slowly improve your checklist.
- Contact Local Support Groups – If traveling within the United States or some parts of Europe, it is best to contact a Celiac support group in that area prior to traveling. Many Celiac support groups now have a website as well, which you should be able to find through the Celiac support group directory.
- Locate Local Restaurants and Groceries – Knowing ahead of time what restaurants offer gluten-free menus and which grocery stores offer gluten-free products can prove very valuable. You can only carry so much with you and chances are you’ll need to stock up when you arrive. Please keep in mind that if you are visiting within the United States, you’ll want to check out our Gluten Free Restaurants and Gluten Free Groceries pages! If traveling to Australia, we recommend Gluten Free Pages.
- Restaurant Cards/Dining Cards – If you are traveling to another country where English isn’t the primary language, you’ll want to bring the appropriate restaurant cards or dining cardswith you, which can be downloaded here for FREE via CeliacTravel.com! You can also now purchase an iPhone/iPod Touch application which includes these restaurant cards from the iTunes store! Triumph Dining also offers dining cards which are included with the purchase of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide!
- Travel Toasters – Some people may find this a little weird, but if you are worried your destination won’t include access to a toaster, you may want to bring you own! You can check out the travel toasters found here.
Note: Beware of Legal Considerations – If traveling overseas, educate yourself on the local food laws. Some countries won’t allow certain foods to be brought with you and your gluten-free foods may be confiscated! Another benefit of knowing the local food laws is that you can also be comfortable shipping foods directly to where you will be staying so it doesn’t need to be packed.
Tip for Successful Flying Gluten-Free:
- If the carrier you are flying offers gluten-free meals, it is necessary to make airline personnel aware of your needs in advance. Airlines that offer gluten-free meals typically need advance notification anywhere between 24 to 96 hours to ensure that your special meal is ready at the time of your departure.
- It is recommended that you confirm your meal request directly with the airline or with your travel agent prior to your departure
- Be sure to pack some snacks as a precautionary measure, just in case your flight is delayed, plans change or an error is made with your meal.
To learn more about which airlines offer gluten-free meals, you’ll want to check out this page at Gluten-Free Passport.
Common Gluten-Free Friendly Travel Destinations:
- Disney World – Did you know that the happiest place on Earth is also one of the most Celiac friendly places on earth? Simply make a phone call to the parks’ Special Dining departments or an email to Theresa.Joiner@disney.com, you can get gluten-free menus from each of Disney World’s theme parks emailed directly to you before your trip. For special dietary requests at Magic Kingdom, call (407) 824-5967. For EPCOT, call (407) 560-6395. For Hollywood Studios, call (407) 560-3551. For Animal Kingdom, call (407) 938-3288. You can also visit a special page on their official website for more information on special dietary requests!
- Disney Cruise Lines – Just like the above mentioned accommodations made for Disney World visitors, Disney Cruise Lines also does a great job of providing for those on a gluten-free diet! You can learn more about their 3, 4 or 7-night cruises on their official website.
- Carnival Cruise Lines – Carnival Cruise Lines can provide meals for those with food allergies that require a gluten-free diet! Please advise the dining staff or contact a Guest Access Services Representative once onboard so we can prepare the appropriate meal for you. However, those requesting Kosher meals – due to the limit selections and quantities – should call Reservations at least two weeks prior to sailing to accommodate your needs.
Other Gluten-Free Travel Resources:
- Gluten Free Travel Site – User submitted reviews of hotels, resorts, and restaurants serving gluten-free foods.
- Celiac Travel – Large collection of travel information, as well as the popular gluten-free restaurant cards used for traveling overseas.
- Gluten Free Passport – Website with a number of resources!
- Bob and Ruth’s – Club filled with gluten-free travelers who share their stories through a monthly newsletter.