Traveling the Gluten-Free Way

by | G+ Amy Leger

If being gluten-free has kept you from experiencing the sights and sounds of the world, do not let that be an obstacle any more.  I understand the worries about going to an unfamiliar place and not knowing what food options will be there when you arrive.  Luckily, we live in a time when more restaurants are catching onto gluten-free needs of consumers, and now hotels, resorts and grocery stores are following suit.  But before you buy that plane ticket, check out my posts on gluten-free travel.

A recently-launched website, glutenfreetravelsite.com, has a lot of information for you.  The site boasts of being a resource for information-sharing about gluten-free travel experiences.  So I decided to interview Karen Broussard, Founder and President of glutenfreetravelsite.com, to learn more about gluten-free travel and what we all need to know before we leave the house.

Pick your Gluten-Free Vacation Destination

Emma, left, had her first chocolate shake at this MGM Studios Restaurant

Emma, left, had her first chocolate shake at this MGM Studios Restaurant

So you’re up for a vacation, but you want one that might be the most gluten-free friendly, Disney World is fantastic.  The chefs can accommodate the gluten-free diet at all of the restaurants.  In 2007, our travel agent booked reservations for us and alerted each restaurant we chose that we would have a gluten-free diet need. Broussard also talked about her family’s experience there, “…I didn’t have to worry about whether my son would have a safe and delicious meal three times each day.”  We could talk about Disney vacations all day in this post, but instead we will keep it short and get more detailed on Disney at a later date.

 

 

Another fun option is to head to the Big Apple, “…we have the most reviews submitted for establishments in New York, “ Broussard said. “This is not surprising given the large number of restaurants and hotels…New York City and the surrounding area also tend to be at the forefront of food trends and have therefore embraced the demand for gluten-free foods.”   

Get Ready and Set for your Gluten-Free Vacation 

People with celiac disease can have just as great a time on vacation as anyone.  But having your vacation be a gluten-free success takes a little research.  “I’d probably say that lack of planning can lead to the most disappointments.” Broussard recommends calling your hotel or resort in advance to speak with the chef, but also check on the availability of the restaurants where you would like to eat. “Don’t be shy,” she said, “be sure to communicate clearly with the chef before each meal.”  She also recommends Triumph Dining cards if you’re travelling internationally.  “They’re bilingual and are available for at least 10 types of global cuisine.”

Always pack gluten-free snacks, “…unless you’re positive there’s a reliable grocery store nearby that stocks your favorite gluten-free items,” Broussard said.  “There will be times you just want a quick, safe snack without having to chase down a chef!”  That is so true.  Sometimes you can just get sick of explaining yourself to people.  And when you’re on vacation, it’s nice some nights to have a bedtime snack while watching TV for sitting on the deck outside. 

One way to do your research is through glutenfreetravelsite.com.  Broussard told me she launched the site because “…more people these days want first-hand feedback in the form of reviews.”  She says the site gives you “…detailed and personal accounts of restaurants, hotels, etc.”  The site covers all accommodations in countries around the world.  However a lot of it depends on you entering your feedback about your travel experiences.    Plus, right now through the end of the year, submit your reviews and based on which locale has the most, the site will honor it with the title of “Most Celiac-Friendly Destination” for 2008.   If you have a favorite place, you have just a few weeks to review it.

I recently posted an article on how important it is to pay it forward and let people know about good gluten-free restaurants.  It was before I knew about glutenfreetravelsite.com, and it has a lot of other information and helpful links for consumers.  Coming soon, more posts on travelling, including information on the most-challenging destinations and the best destinations for specific getaways:  honeymoon, family, international.

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