Whether you are going on a plane, car or boat, travelling with food allergies and intolerances can be a nightmare. I recently went travelling abroad with my family. In our mix, four of us are gluten or dairy intolerant. Flying was one thing, but when travelling to other countries with these intolerances made it somewhat difficult. It made me sympathise with anyone with a true allergy or coeliac disease. Here are some tips that I came up with to make travelling a little easier.
We purposely choose Airbnb during our travels which worked extremely well. We could have what ever we wanted for breakfast and pack our lunches and snacks for the day. In the evenings we would plan to eat out. The questions to ask airbnb before deciding to rent is where the closest supermarkets or local food shops are. Making sure that you are central and within walking distances to shops makes it that little bit easier to get what you need at a moments notice.
2. Google gluten free restaurants before you leave
Wherever you are staying it is good to get an idea of restaurants that can cater for gluten free (GF) and book in. When you have a firm booking for dinner then you are likely to plan your day to end at the restaurant rather than wandering around looking for places to eat. Alternatively, when looking for places to eat check out the menu. Find out what their specialty is. If it is pizza, the cross contamination of flour can make any gluten free pizza a bad choice. If they do grilled meats with vegetables or salad this may be an option, but you will need to check with the chef or head waitress whether the sauces contain gluten.
These days restaurants are very savvy when it comes to GF dining. Dishes are either labeled GF or restaurants have a dedicated GF menu.
Some questions to ask when ordering are:
Chips: Are the chips coated with any flour?
Oils: Are GF fried foods fried in the same fryer as non GF foods?
Stews and slow cooked meals: Has the meat been coated with flour before browning. If so what type of flour?
Marinades and Sauces: Check to see if they contain gluten or is there potential for them to be cross contaminated.
Our most memorable eating moment was in England, when we ordered a huge pile of hot deep fried chips from the local fish and chip shop. Piles of thickly cut fresh potato deep fried and wrapped in the old fashioned butchers paper, piping hot. Delicious. And no gluten.
3. Getting ready for your flight
The last trip we did, I spent hours planning and preparing meals for the flight. I packed a fridge bag full of GF bread, cookies and crackers to supplement our meals.
Error no 1. Check the time of your flight. Yes, this is very important. For instance, you are not going to eat as much on a night flight as a day flight.
Error no 2. Don't pack too much. We were sitting in economy, and their is hardly any room for your legs let alone a fridge bag full of food that you can't pull out at a moments notice. Obviously not an issue for those travelling in Business or First Class.
Error no 3. I packed one big bag, but in hindsight it would have been better if we all had our own smaller bag with our extra food that we were each in control of. Order a GF meal, and use your own supply of bread and cookies to complement the meal. The GF meals that we ordered were tasty, but the breads could have been used to play shuttlecock.
4. Know what GF is in non english speaking countries
On our travels we visited Paris. This is where we became a bit unstuck with our GF lifestyle. Just remember to look for 1 phrase "Sans Gluten" . A lot of restaurants do offer GF dining, but it helps to have a few phrases on hand
"Avez-vous des aliments sans gluten" - Do you have GF food
Just remember to have goggle translate at hand.
So, although we did slip up once or twice, unintentionally of course, it is possible to eat well overseas. That is with a little planning.