Gluten Intolerant

Living the Gluten Free Lifestyle

Travelling when you’re gluten intolerant is a challenge – you have not only have to find food you can eat when you’re at your destination, but also ensure there is food available for the trip.  The logistics can be overwhelming and – at times – can take all the fun out of the holiday.  In an ideal world, it would all be organised for you – gluten sensitivity is common enough that surly there is space in the world for a niche travel agency who organise tours and make all the arrangements.  Any entrepreneurs reading this should get going – it could be your key to wealth (and if it is, free holidays for me for ife would be able repayment for the idea!)


When travelling, ideally you would always take a packed lunch.  Its the easiest way to ensure you know exactly what goes into your food.  A picnic is simple and easy to organise – especially if you can arrange it before you leave home.  However, while this is fine for the outward journey, the journey home can be more challenging.  Moreover, with security limitations on what you can and cant bring on board an aircraft, the packed lunch is sometimes not plausible.

Most airlines do offer gluten free options.  Usually, you have to request these, but they come at not extra cost.  Its generally best to ensure that you have meals booked a week or so before the flight, as after that time, it can be difficult to get airlines to make changes.  However, it can be difficult to find food at airports – so don’t rely on being able to eat there, unless you have good knowledge that eating opportunities exist.

Trains seem particularly poor at offering gluten free food – ut at least they do tend to be packed luch friendly.


The ideal place to stay would be a hotel that specifically caters for the gluten intolerant.  There are more and more of these around the world, but it does restrict your choices.  The next best option is to call up the hotel before booking and ask to speak to the chef or catering manager of their restaurant.  This can allow you to discuss your requirements and find out if the hotel is able to cater for you.  If it is, then, following your booking, thank the chef and let them know when you’ll be visiting.  On arrival at the hotel, ask to speak to the chef again, to ensure the message has got through.

Unfortunately, if you happen to be visiting a country where you don’t speak the language speaking to catering staff can be difficult.  If this is the case, my best advice would be to either look for a hotel which offers at least a fridge and preferably a microwave in the room, or better yet, choose a self catering option.

When visiting foreign cities, your best bet for safe, gluten free, food is the supermarket – here you can often find gluten free food in the form of vegetables, fruit, cold meat and cheese. Bigger supermarkets may even carry their own gluten free ranges – I’ve had success in various parts of the world, including the USA, UK, Ireland and Malta.  I have heard of some gluten intolerance sufferers arranging for packages of gluten free food to be delivered to hotels from online shops on their day of arrival.  This is not an easy strategy, but if you’re staying at a hotel for a decent period of time, it is an option worth considering.

Dining Out

Dining out when you’re gluten free is never an easy option – and is more difficult when you’re abroad.  Too often I have settled for steak and salad (and even then, if the steak is cooked on a skillet I might be risking cross contamination).  My advice here is as follows:

The internet is your friend – look up gluten free places to eat before you travel.Wherever I go, I add to this site the various places I’ve found selling gluten free food, and my experiences there.

Chain restaurants often have gluten free menus.  It might take some digging on their website, but its generally useful to know in advance that you have an option – even if it is fast food.

Restaurant Cards are a convenient way of letting waiters know what you can and can’t eat.  They are not a perfect solution, but they might make your life easier if you can’t speak a countries lingo.

Carry nuts with you – if you can’t find anywhere to eat, nuts will keep you full until you find a better option.  Buying fresh fruit is also often easy, if you can’t find anything better.

The guide books below can also help you with eating out when you travel. Give them a look: