Travelling is something that most people want to do in their lifetime. Many people have ""Bucket Lists"" and have exotic locations on that list, so that they can experience the history, art, culture and foods of the different countries. It is the food in these countries that can cause someone with celiac disease the greatest worry, so here are a few tips to help you plan and execute a great holiday.
You always need to be prepared for the unexpected, so travel with a supply of snacks ie, (commercially sealed) tinned food that can be eaten cold or heated, muesli bars, rice crackers, corn thins or biscuits. Always have a small meal or two (depending on flight length) and a few different snacks for your flight. This is also useful when you are transiting at airports as a lot of fast food is not Gluten Free or you are too tired to find out (as you can not speak the language!!) and this is the easiest and safest option.
Many people believe they can not take food into a foreign country. Having traveled extensively through many continents, I have had no problem taking in prepacked (unopened and in original seal) commercial products into countries. Always declare that you are carrying food (on your Immigration / Customs / Quarantine Card that you fill out on the plane prior to landing) and once it is inspected, items declared will normally be returned to you. Even if they are taken off you, it is still better than getting into trouble with authorities.
Do your homework before you go and check with the customs and quarantine of the country you are visiting. "Food" includes anything you eat or drink such as processed foods, uncooked food, airline food, snacks and ingredients.
Also some countries will have a large variety of gluten free products available to buy in the country itself so you would only need to take enough for your flight. Celiac Societies in most countries could help with this information.
Suggestions for a Stress-Free Holiday
1. Stay in a self-contained apartment where you can prepare some meals. You can buy fresh food at a local deli or supermarket and cook great gluten free meals, or even better, prepare a (gf) packed lunch for a busy day of sightseeing. This option also helps you save money by not eating out every meal.
2. Shopping at local supermarkets, where gluten free products can be purchased. It is always a good idea to have a supply of different snacks - things like biscuits, crackers, muesli bars, cereal and bread. Having these basic supplies will always get you out of trouble.
3. Have a translation card, stating your requirement for gluten free food, written in the language of the country you are traveling in. Some countries have one or two different dialects so take a translation card written in all the relevant languages for that country.
4. Information on every destination you could possibly want to visit is available on the internet. Take the time to research your destinations. This will give you valuable information on local food and restaurants that are suitable for a gluten free diet.
5. When stayng at Bed and Breakfast (B & B's) and home stays, it is highly recommended contacting your host family to inform them of the requirement for gluten free food. This will assist them with catering and improve the possibility of having gluten free food available for your arrival. I have sometimes been surprised with freshly baked (gf) cakes on my arrival.
6. Ask for local recommendations for gluten free restaurants from the owners/staff of your place of accommodation. Some of the best information comes from the locals.