Gluten Free Traveling Gluten Free Traveling | Thriving With Celiac

Gluten Free Traveling

by Nancy Olson on July 16, 2012

Gluten free traveling

Gluten Free Traveling Tips

For people with celiac disease, a lifelong gluten-free lifestyle is the only way to curtail the severe symptoms of the disorder and to prevent its relapse. By sticking to this lifestyle, the celiac can very well live a normal life. Certain difficulties can be encountered from time to time but it is nothing that cannot be addressed with careful planning. During breaks from school and Christmas holidays it is common for families to go on vacations. This is one time when gluten free traveling tips are useful to stay safe while traveling or staying in a faraway destination.

Traveling is inherently stressful and it is more so for celiacs. The travel can be made safer, less stressful and pleasurable by planning well in advance. It is harder for those who were newly diagnosed, but with certain tips, planning, and repeated experiences, one learns to cope even master the tips that one learns along the way.

Basically, the most important thing that celiac can do is to plan their gluten free traveling trip. The most important things to consider are the modes of travel, the choice of destination, and the gluten-free options available in the point of destination.

 Gluten Free Traveling Options

There is no doubt that for celiacs, the best mode of travel is by car. This allows stopping at any point to load up on the kinds of gluten-free foods needed or wanted. Traveling by rails is also good because passengers are allowed to bring food aboard the train. Celiac victims just need to dig up some of those favorite gluten-free recipes and prepare gluten-free foods that can be brought along the trips. It is important to take enough food that will not spoil easily. Processed foods are good to take if travel will take a longer time.

Traveling by plane and ships are more challenging particularly if traveling long distance. It is still easier to manage the airline flights because food is allowed on board. The only problem that one must anticipate is the limit to what one can carry.  With careful planning and picking light gluten-free foods, a celiac can take more than what is adequate. Certain airlines are starting to offer gluten-free food options these days. One can anticipate and plan better if well informed. Thus, it pays to make the inquiries prior to booking a flight.

If you want to go cruising that can take weeks or even months, the planning can become a little trickier. Most cruise liners do not allow taking food on board. This means that the liners can handle the special dietary needs of their celiac passengers. It is not, however, safe to assume this. It is still best to find out from the cruise liners if they can offer gluten-free meals on board or if the restaurants on board serve gluten-free meals. Two cruise lines that do this are the Royal Caribbean Cruise-lines, and Orbridge. Perhaps, more liners are now offering gluten-free meals; so, it is good to find out.

Gluten Free Traveling Accommodations and Restaurants

Long before you leave home, good planning dictates that you make your research as to the potential places to stay – hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfast. Before even booking, it is important to find out about their food service and ability to offer or provide gluten-free meal options. A Google search can help you locate gluten-free accommodations in the place of travel as well as restaurants and eating places in malls. Take note of these so that you will never run out of options once you get there.

If you intend to stay with some relatives or friends, make sure that you have communicated with them your condition so that they can make certain adjustments with their food preparations. This will eliminate the awkwardness when you get there and not eating what they serve or telling them about it for the first time. Telling them ahead of time can give them the time to research about celiac and why the need for gluten-free meals.

Gluten Free Traveling and the “What if the Inevitable Happens?”

No celiac would want to be exposed to gluten while on vacation because it can spoil all the fun. Yet, sometimes the inevitable thing happens that lead to the ingestion of the forbidden protein. So, what can the celiac do? You may hear a lot of advices – ginger tea, induced vomiting, enzymes, laxatives, etc. Doctors will tell you that nothing really works except absolute gluten-free lifestyle. This is why tips to travel gluten free are useful. Most definitely, you will survive the bouts of symptoms of variable severity, but the fun is diminished with the gastric discomforts.

Gluten free traveling experiences I am sure you have some please share them in the comments section.


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As the Founder and CEO of Thriving With Celiac, Nancy Olson is on a mission to educate, support and inspire those living a gluten free lifestyle. After many years of suffering and dealing with celiac disease day by day, Nancy has learned how to do more than simply survive. Through writing, speaking and coaching in the gluten free and healthy lifestyle areas, she now teaches everyone she comes in contact with how they too can begin thrivin’ rather than just survivin’.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin Smith July 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm

As someone living with Celiac Disease since 1981, all of my travel has been gluten-free. While I understand it can be stressful to be far from home and worry about eating safely, I encourage others to travel every chance I get. There are so many resources now that can help you safely navigate your travels away from home.

I have traveled to over 20 states, 13 countries, and 3 continents all while maintaining a 100% gluten-free diet.

Thanks for the article!
Erin Smith


Nancy Olson July 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

Thanks Erin for sharing and giving ispiration to those that still are afraid to eat out and travel due to the need of eating gluten free.


Carolyn Hughes July 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Out of all the dietary conditions , celiac is the one I find the hardest to cater for but that’s because I know so little about it. A great post and I love your statement ‘thrivin’ rather than just survivin’.’ Brilliant!


Nancy Olson July 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Carolyn, I have heard that from others too. It is like any lifestyle change…challenging at first but after a while it just becomes so natural.


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