Whether you’re staying in the country or going away, gluten-free travel isn’t always easy. With international borders open again, excursions for work and play are quickly increasing. Being in a new place can be exciting but searching for a safe, gluten-free restaurant to eat at can quickly become a daunting task for people on the spectrum of gluten sensitivity. You will often find yourself eating in situations where food preparation is out of your control. This can include airline food, catered events, and business lunches. Even the excitement of dining at new restaurants can quickly become a stressful experience. To ease your suffering, we’ve compiled a list of easy gluten-free travel tips and tricks for your next adventure.

Travelling for work? Make sure you check out our tips for gluten-free travel for business.

Research Ahead of Time

There’s nothing worse than choosing a beautiful place to eat, only to discover the menu is entirely gluten-based. Before heading out, take five minutes to research some gluten-free options. Typing ‘gluten-free’ into Google Maps should yield the closest spots offering non-gluten alternatives, or eateries that can swap out ingredients on request.

Other great apps and websites include Zomato and Yelp, which offer ‘gluten-free’ search options. Take a look at the menu — usually located on the establishment’s website — to confirm there is something there for you.

Don’t forget to call ahead and reserve a seat. While calling, discuss your dietary requirements with the wait staff or chef. Be honest and open and understand that not all restaurants may be able to accommodate your restrictions.

Have a Plan B

Can’t find a gluten-free restaurant? Don’t let it spoil your GF holiday!

Sometimes things don’t pan out, and despite rigorous planning; restaurants may be unaccommodating, your favourite GF product may be out of stock, or the chance of cross-contamination may be too high to risk. We all get a little hungry when we’re stressed — for these instances, pre-packing your favourite snacks is essential.

Pick up gluten-free snacks before flying and pack them in your carry-on luggage. They’re perfect for those moments in-between meal service. Pre-packaged snacks in your check-in luggage are ideal when travelling to countries with which you aren’t familiar. Questioning the wait staff about cross-contamination can be stressful, let alone doing it in another language. Pack your favourite gluten-free protein bars, granola bars, or nut bars. As long as your snacks are pre-packaged and free from harmful ingredients, they’re allowed into overseas countries.

Understand the Local Culture and Cuisine

Gluten-free travel is all about experiencing new sights, sounds, smells and most importantly, new food! Finding new and delicious cuisines is easy, but how do they contain gluten?

When travelling in countries where English is not predominantly spoken, have some key phrases at the ready that you can use. Your important, food- and gluten-related phrases may include:

  • Does this meal contain any wheat, rye, barley, or oats?
  • Do you have any food without wheat, rye, barley, or oats?
  • Do you have a gluten-free option?
  • Can I order this meal without [this ingredient]?

That’s a lot to remember, so having a quick, translated card ready to hand to waitstaff is another great idea. Don’t forget to print out multiple copies, in some local languages. An example of a card may include:

I am gluten intolerant. I do not eat wheat, rye, barley, and oats. If I do eat these foods, I will become very ill.

Does this food contain wheat, rye, barley, or oats?

Learn how to request gluten-free options with these dedicated YouTube language tutorials from Schar Gluten-Free!

Research Potential Safe Dishes

Travel can be difficult, but your gluten-free diet restrictions don’t have to mean missing out altogether. Although gluten is present in a number of common foods, certain dishes can almost always be relied on to be safe. Salad anyone? Without the croutons, of course.

All rice options are gluten-free and still a great way to fuel your body with carbohydrates (something you’ll definitely need when travelling). Raw meats, fruits, and vegetables are always completely gluten-free. Don’t forget to ask about hidden gluten that can lurk in sauces and seasonings like soy sauce, cinnamon,  and curry powder.

Request a Meal Ahead of Time on International Flights

Being stuck on a plane for an extended amount of time is tough, but there’s something worse — being hungry! You’ve packed some great gluten-free travel snacks, but what about the hot meal that everyone else gets to enjoy? You can too!

Many airlines offer a selection of meals to suit your dietary requirements. Whether you need a halal, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free meal, just take your pick. Some airlines may vary in their offerings. Keep in mind that these meals may still be prepared and packaged in an environment that handles gluten.

Find a Suitable Hotel

The right hotel can be the perfect home away from home. Once you’ve reached your destination, one of the first things you’ll want is something to eat (and maybe a shower).

Take the guesswork out of your next meal by cooking for yourself! How? Find a hotel with a kitchen or kitchenette. Small apartments and private or shared Airbnbs are also ideal. Sometimes, the most comforting part of cooking is knowing exactly what environment your meal has been prepared in and what ingredients are being used.

Navigate your local food store to discover safe food products. Many supermarkets even have convenient, gluten-free or ‘free from’ sections. Remember to take your phone, translating device, or gluten-free travel phrase card with you when searching for products in another language.

Don’t Forget Your GluteGuard

With its gluten-free travel-friendly blister packaging, GluteGuard is easy to take in your handbag and carry-on luggage to ensure you’re always prepared against potential gluten cross-contamination. Take just one tablet around 5 – 15 minutes before a meal to protect against the symptoms of accidental gluten ingestion. You never know when you could be caught out! Ensure you pack enough for your whole trip.

Gluten-free travel doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember to pack your favourite snacks, keep your eyes out for delicious but safe meals, and ask the right questions (in the right languages). Bon voyage!

Want more tips on how to enjoy gluten-free travel? Read more of our articles here.