Hello! Bon jour! Buon giorno! Buenos dias! Going abroad, Glutenfreeda style
As anyone living gluten-free knows, traveling is an unparalleled challenge - having been fortunate enough to study abroad several times since high school, I’m familiar with some of the best ways for making your stay a little less about the food, and more about the city - across the country or across the ocean.
First things first, if a meal is served on your flight, contact the airline company and find out if they have a gluten-free option. In my experience, most international flights are accommodating - especially Northwest Air/KLM and IsrAir. If they are able to provide a gluten-free meal, you’re in business and move on to step two! If not, start planning ahead - talk to them about what meal options are available and just because they can’t provide a bread substitute, doesn’t mean the meal itself isn’t gluten free! If this is not the case, prepare food in advance - okay, a PB&J and protein bar are not your first choice for dinner, so get creative! If it’s an overnight flight, think about bringing cereal in a sandwich bag or a granola alternative for breakfast.
Next, contact the local Celiac association (there are tons of local chapters and usually some kind of organization in most European countries). Find out which grocery stories carry celiac-friendly products, which restaurants they recommend and which hotels are the most accommodating and nearby. Also, look into travel cards which offer an explanation of celiac disease in English and a language of choice - print them out, stick them in your wallet or purse and you’re all set, even consider laminating a few for convenience.
Finally, bring supplies with you - either in your luggage or, if you’re able, ship them ahead of time to be delivered during your stay. Protein bars for on the go, instant bread mixes or oatmeal, and speak to your hotel and find out if maybe they can furnish you room with a mini-fridge for bread, sandwich fixings, spreads and salads, etc.
Traveling with gluten-intolerance can be difficult and frustrating, but if you plan ahead and consider all of the details (plane/train/car rides, banquets, etc.) you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience away from home!
- Kelsey Ganes, University of Washington student
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