Dreaming of traveling and tasting the vibrant flavors of the world, but not sure if you can navigate menus with a gluten allergy or sensitivity? Let me assuage your fears: you can! Go ahead, book that flight and pack your bags!
As a Registered Dietitian, avid hiker, and international traveler with a severe gluten sensitivity, I've been successfully eating my way across the globe for a decade. I'm constantly discovering healthy, mouth-watering dishes that are inherently gluten-free and finding gluten-free alternatives that are becoming more prevalent. As you travel from one area to the next, you too can discover new dishes that are both delectable AND devoid of gluten.
Most restaurants in major cities now take all allergies seriously. You will often find menus denoting common allergens such as gluten, dairy and nuts. Servers and chefs are more accustomed to catering to dietary requests (especially when you ask politely). In fact, my experience has been that many restaurants now stock gluten-free pasta, bread, and even pizza crusts, so they can make the same dish, just substituting the gluten-free option.
Here are my top tips for taking gluten-free on the road:
- Take snacks with you from home. Raw or roasted nuts, gluten-free granola, and dried fruit all pack easily. Make your own trail mix and pack in snack-size bags for a crunchy, energizing snack to fuel your travel adventures.
- Stock your hotel room or home away with healthy options from a local grocery store. This is a must for me anytime I travel, whether it’s a hiking trip through Arizona or exploring the white sand beaches of St. Lucia. My first stop after picking up a rental car is finding the closest grocery store where I can purchase fresh fruit, veggies, bottled water, and other gluten-free staples.
- When planning your next vacation, search for a hotel or resort with on-site restaurants, which include plenty of gluten-free options. Most now have sample or full menus on their website, making it easier to plan, which means less worry for you and more time to relax and recharge.
- Do your research before dining out. Ask Google to show you the best gluten-free restaurants in the area where you will travel. I’ve been so fortunate to find the most delightful local cafes by doing so, like Pomegranate Café the friendliest, and oh-so delish organic, vegetarian, and local favorite in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Craving pizza? (I don’t know about you, but I always do, especially after a big hike!) Thankfully, most pizzerias, like Crust, another local favorite in the Phoenix area, now offer gluten-free crusts with all your favorite toppings.
- Disover chain restaurants known for healthier and many gluten-free options such as True Food Kitchen, which was founded by renowned integrative medicine physician, Dr. Andrew Weil, with the philosophy that food should make you feel better, not worse. With more than 26 locations in major cities throughout the United States, you’ll delight your taste buds with fresh, locally-sourced dishes like one of our favorites- the teriyaki quinoa bowl with salmon.
- Take a wellness vacation with Taste of Travel and let our private chef cook for you! Yes, you heard that right y’all. We have our own personal chefs who meticulously plan menus, shop locally, and cook on-site for all guests on each trip. Your free personal travel planner will go over any dietary modifcations in advance, ensuring worry-free meals for you. You can discover our full line-up of wellness vacations and retreats, and book your trip here: Taste of Travel Wellness Vacations
Travelling with a gluten sensitivity or full-blown allergy doesn’t have to be stressful. Planning and knowing what to expect, will allow you to focus on relaxing, making memories, and enjoying every moment of your vacation to the fullest.
So, what are you waiting for? Book that flight, pack your bags, and go taste the world!
Author: Dawn Palacios, RD, LDN
Health and Wellness Manager, Taste of Travel