I thought I would share some tips with you on traveling gluten free, whether it's a quick day trip or abroad.
- Plan ahead - do lots of online research leading up to your trip. About three weeks before my trip, I consult my gluten free friends and community on Twitter and ask them for recommendations if they've been to that area or live there. I always get the best suggestions from them, so it's my first course of action. I also research Yelp, by typing "gluten free" in the "searching for" field and the name of the city in the location field. This always yields several great results. Finally, if those don't turn up answers (though they always do) you can use a search engine like Google and type in something along the lines of "Carmel Gluten Free Restaurants." I prefer this method the least, because I don't know about cross contamination, whether the restaurant can handle someone as severely allergic as I am, or if the food is any good. Always go with personal recommendations or a trusted review site if you can.
- Pack snacks - make sure you carry snacks with you that are shelf stable. I choose ones that are high in protein in case I am forced to miss a meal. I generally carry a few meals worth of NuGo Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bars because they're certified GF, soy and dairy free, and have 9 grams of protein. I also pack a piece of fruit and some gluten free crackers.
- Consult the concierge - if you're staying at a nice hotel. Generally the hotel concierge is able to accommodate requests for restaurant recommendations. If you're going to a foreign country where reviews or recommendations online might be scarce, make the concierge your new best friend. Many times you can call the hotel in advance of your stay and submit your request. I've done this and when given time to properly research, the concierge provided me with incredible meal options every day. They even notified the chef so that they would be prepared for me. It takes the guess work out of picking a place each evening and allows you to relax and enjoy yourself.
- Breathe. This is a hard one for me, and I'm sure it is for you as well. It can be stressful putting your health and well being into the hands of others. Understand that there will be many restaurants that just don't get it. In this case, stick to items that are naturally gluten free, notify them of your allergy, and take something like Garden of Life Gluten Freeze before your meal. While it can't prevent symptoms entirely, I've had great luck with using it to prevent cross contamination issues that might otherwise arise.
What's your best gluten free travel tip?