Eating GF when traveling abroad

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN

Q: I'll be traveling abroad three times in the next year and while I'm excited, I feel worried about food availability while traveling. I really don't want to get sick while in a foreign country. Do you have any tips for traveling with celiac disease?

Answer


Traveling while staying gluten-free (GF) can be a daunting task, but is possible with a bit of planning and research ahead of time.

General Tips for Traveling:

  1. Carry GF snacks.
  2. Bring GF foods such as cereal, bread and pasta.
  3. Have GF foods shipped ahead of time to your destination.
  4. Keep a restaurant card with you that explains the GF diet.
  5. Book accommodations with a refrigerator/microwave/kitchenette.
  6. Request a GF meal when flying.
  7. Look into travel companies that serve GF customers.1
  8. Contact a celiac organization in the country you are visiting for more information about local GF foods: https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/additional-information/international-groups/

Gluten-free Air Travel:

  • On international flights and those over 7 hours GF meals are usually available upon request from major airlines.
  • Keep in mind that most airlines usually need at least a week’s notice for GF requests.
  • Always plan for delays or mishaps! Carry extra snacks with you.

Good Snacks to Carry:

  1. GF fruit and nut bars
  2. Cheese sticks
  3. Whole fruits
  4. Cut veggies
  5. GF sandwiches*
  6. GF crackers/rice cakes
  7. GF beef jerky*
  8. Rolled up cheese and ham*

*Keep in mind that you may not be allowed to travel with meats or other foods internationally.

Here is TSA's guide to traveling with food. Again note that different rules apply to international travel and be aware that sometimes travelers go through pre-clearance customs at the departure location, which could restrict what food you can carry with you.

Using an app such as Find Me Gluten Free can be very helpful to:

  1. Look up restaurants
  2. Find GF foods/stores
  3. Look up reviews

Also, check out these two helpful websites for GF travel:

Celiac Travel

Restaurant cards in different languages for download:  http://www.celiactravel.com/cards/

Gluten-Free Passport: https://glutenfreepassport.com/pages/gluten-free-travel-cards-celiac-coeliac

  1. Different travel destinations
  2. Cruises
  3. GF stores and restaurants worldwide

Reference:

  1. National Celiac Association. Gluten-Free, Off to A Fresh Start. Presentation. Updated May 4, 2018.

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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