Sunday, July 25, 2010

Part 1: How I do gluten free when traveling

With the busy summer I haven't been very good at answering questions and I'm really sorry about that. So, this post is long overdue, but better late than never, right?

Question: What do you do when traveling, going to a friend's for dinner, or just going out to a restaurant? I've found this to be very tricky. Any tips would be great!

I'm going to break my answer up into 3 parts because they'll be way too long otherwise. How I do gluten free when: traveling, going to a friend's for dinner, and eating at a restaurant.

Part 1: How I do gluten free when traveling.

I'm probably not the best person to answer this question because I'm not a huge traveler at this point in my life (too hard with tiny kids), but I have learned a few tricks that I can share. Since finding out that I'm gluten intolerant I have been on two Disney Cruises. First of all, I have to say... they were amazing! So amazing that we're going again next year (I can't wait!). I am a very frugal person, but the Disney Cruise line is worth splurging for (if you plan and save for it... I'm a Dave Ramsey follower ;) ).

The first time I went was for my honeymoon. I had only been gluten free for a few months at this point, so it was still new to both me and my husband. The second time was 2 years later with his parents (we got a sweet half-price deal!). Both experiences were awesome, but the 2nd cruise was definitely smoother as far as gluten free went. Here's why:
  • Before going the second time we sent in a medical form stating my dietary restrictions. We also confirmed with a Disney customer service rep that there would be plenty of gluten free options for me (I'm sure they would have even if we hadn't checked).
  • Both my husband and I were much more confident about my being gluten free. At the beginning of dinner the first night, we made sure we talked to all the right people about my gluten free options. The "right people" ended up being the head server. She walked me through what I should do for each meal and even took my special orders for what I'd like the chefs to try to make gluten free for breakfast. On the first cruise we just mentioned the "gluten free thing" to our server and I tried to pick items that would be gluten free. The server would check with the chef whether or not I could have it and let me know. After 2 nights they brought me out some gluten free rolls (that were delicious!). I wish I would have been more confident and straightforward on the first cruise so that I would have gotten delicious gluten free food from the start.
  • Things had gotten easier for gluten free eaters even in the 2 years between our cruises. It was more known and there were more food options on the second cruise. I'm sure it will be even better the next time we go.
Being on the Disney Cruise was actually the easiest it's ever been to be gluten free. I can't wait to go back! So, I guess my short answer to the travel question is: make it easy (and truly a vacation) and go on trips that have the gluten free thing all planned out for you. Travel agents can help with that. In fact, there is a travel agent right here in Utah that specializes in gluten free travel. Check it out!

If you don't want to get a travel agent, but want to travel out of the country, all I can say is do your research! If you'll be going to a country that speaks a different language, print out some of these gluten free restaurant cards in the language you'll need. Check out the whole site for tips on gluten free international traveling.

If you're doing traveling closer to home, my post about eating gluten free at restaurants can help with that.

I do have a few more tips for gluten free traveling (the parts before and after the cruise). Things I learned and either did or wish I'd done are these:
  • Be sure to eat before you leave home to get on the plane.
  • Take plenty of snacks of all kinds (dried fruit, gf chips/crackers, sweets, string cheese, etc.).
  • Check out the airport restaurants and their menus before going, so you'll know your options. Many restaurants have allergy menus now. Also check out menus surrounding your hotels you'll be staying in.
  • Don't count on the airline to serve peanuts (on the way home from our first cruise, I was starving, but the airline was out of peanuts and only had pretzels).
I think knowing the restaurants (look for those tips in part 3) and having plenty of gluten free snacks are the main things.

Good luck to all you gluten free travelers and have fun!

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