Tips for travelling with coeliac disease

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I travel a lot for work as I work in the aviation sector and it’s fair to say I am a bit of a nerd, so I do plenty of research anyway. But, when travelling with coeliac disease, its even more important to plan, plan, plan. Here are my tips to take some of the stress out of travelling with coeliac disease.

  1. I always prepare a bag of things I can snack on in case my pre-ordered airline food isn’t delivered or there are delays (this happens a lot.) If it’s a quick trip and I am on a low-cost carrier where you have to buy food on board, there is seldom anything I can or would want to eat, so this comes in handy. I’ve also had more than one long-haul flight where my gluten-free meal wasn’t loaded to the aircraft, or what was offered wasn’t of the quality I would expect. The gluten-free pot noodles are a great hand luggage snack – crew will usually give you hot water.
  2. Some parts of the world are simply not set up for gluten-free life, so research where and what you might be able to eat.  For me, part of the fun of travelling is going to the gluten-free places where I am visiting or working.  I also love looking at the free-from sections in supermarkets too, just watch out for labelling differences.
  3. You can buy or print out coeliac cards in multiple languages to use at restaurants or in shops. Take some of these with you, just in case.  
  4. Most countries have their own coeliac websites, blogs and social groups. I like to research these to find lots of help and advice on where to go and eat safely. 
  5. I always make sure I book a hotel that caters for gluten-free diets. I usually call them and ask questions before I go. If you can get a good breakfast, it keeps you going for quite a while.
  6. My top tip though, is to not apologise or feel embarrassed asking questions, after all, if you eat the wrong thing, it’s you suffering the consequences. Don’t be controlled by your allergy just prepare for it and be prepared to explain your situation many times.
  7.  If you do go away and can’t find anything labelled gluten-free, don’t panic. You can still eat fruit, cheese, vegetables, salads, cooked plain meats and other fresh, safe items. As always, just watch out for cross contamination
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