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About 5 years ago, my little Minion was diagnosed with celiac disease which changed our lifestyle completely. I used to mill all of our wheat and make bread from scratch! We ate homemade rolls, buns, pretzels, but our favorite was Friday night pizza-from scratch. When the diagnosis came I continued to make it for the rest of us, but it was unfair to my daughter. What I quickly learned was traveling with a child with Celiac can be quite challenging. Celiac Disease is not an allergy, but an autoimmune disease. Consequently, if she eats gluten she will violently throw up. Imagine being on a 14 hour flight with a child who cannot stop throwing up-yeah doesn’t sound fun to us either. I quickly figured out how to (successfully) travel gluten free.
I put successfully in parenthesis because things can happen outside of your control. A waiter may misunderstand you and serve a meal with gluten in it. A restaurant could accidentally cross contaminate foods. But I am hoping to help you prepare to avoid these situations. Have you read my Gluten Free Guide for Bucharest, we actually ran into some issues there.
Is my husband the only one who says, “Piss poor planning leads to piss poor performance?” Nope, never heard it, just my husband who says that? Just kidding, I am sure we’ve all heard some rendition of this. Traveling with Celiac Disease really means you must plan ahead if you want to be successful. We never leave the house without some sort of idea of gluten free options and gluten free foods-ever. Always carry gluten free translation cards, these are vitally important in foreign countries.
Gluten Free Domestic Air Travel
If you are flying domestically, it is relatively easy to find food. Obviously, access to a grocery store will make this much easier. Gluten free foods are in abundance these days, unfortunately, they are usually full of sugar and other junk. Probably the trickiest place to find gluten free-airports. But we have found several places that offer gluten free options. Here is a helpful list, I am sure there are more, but these are the ones we’ve eaten at and trust, of course always take an assessment for yourself. Even though most airports carry gluten free foods, I recommend carrying snacks with you. Delta does offer in flight snacks that are gluten free-one of the many reasons we love them, but things can happen.
- PF Changs
- Natures Table Bistro-My daughter loved their balsamic chicken
- CFA-Warning here, they are normally, but we found last time they couldn’t guarantee their grilled chicken wasn’t cross contaminated.
- Five Guys
- Pei Wei
- PF Changs
- French Meadow Bakery & Cafe
- Pei Wei
- Baja Fresh
- Wolf Gang Puck-My daughters fav gf pizza
- California Pizza Kitchen
Dallas Fort Worth
- Pappasito’s (Never eaten at this particular one but other ones)
- Pappadeaux (Also never eaten at this particular one)
Dallas Love Field
- Jason’s Deli
Gluten Free International Travel
Traveling international poses a lot more challenges. I want to help you successfully travel gluten free. First, always take food with you. It has to be prepackaged and of course no meat products, I knew this and still bought beef jerky one time. I ended up passing out packages to fellow passengers on a flight because I had bought a lot! Some countries require you to declare everything, make sure you check out what the laws are for the countries you are traveling to. Most importantly, bring gluten free translation cards with you! Even if you aren’t exactly sure as to what countries you will be visiting bring one for every country you might visit. While most places do speak English, they don’t always understand the importance of not cross contaminating. If you bring a card in their language it will help tremendously.
There are wonderful groups and websites dedicated to GF Travel on Facebook and twitter.
What We Carry-Always
- GF Bread-At least a loaf if not more
- Justin’s Peanut Butter/Almond Butter Packets
- Honey Packets
- Annie’s GF Mac & Cheese Cups
- Bob’s Red Mill GF Oatmeal Cups
- Go-Go Squeeze
- One Bars
I put all of the liquids into a quart sized bag together, I usually have one for PB & honey and one for applesauce. While it seems that we travel with a lot of food, we’ve arrived to destinations before and found virtually nothing gluten free. It is better to be over prepared than under prepared. If you have bread, you can usually find cheese or salami and make a small sandwich. Most importantly, with peanut butter and honey you can make a sandwich anywhere, even on a flight! Noteworthy, call the airline ahead of time to order a gluten free meal, because we fly standby we cannot do this. As a result I always bring her food. Always confirm no one has a peanut allergy, and carry a backup plan in case!
Usually, we try to grab something in the airport before boarding. Just a quick warning, in Dusseldorf, we were told we could not bring any food on board, make sure you eat there ahead of time. We found a gluten free salad at a grab and go. That was the only international airport this has ever happened at though, they even took my coffee. ***Edited*** to add that we found that in Ireland you go through US customs before leaving Dublin, so if you have any fresh fruits and vegetables they will confiscate them.
- The Market (Limited choices but they had smoothies, located near McDonalds in Terminal 2)
- Several grocery type stores with cheese
- Several Cafes with fresh fruit bowls and salads.
- Again several grab and go style places with fruit bowls.
Important to Note
While you can take fruits, vegetables, meats aboard an aircraft they must be consumed before landing. Always check the local laws to where you are visiting first, some countries have weird laws and they’re not even allowed to be taken on the aircraft. The views expressed here are my own, I cannot be held responsible.
We have found that once you are in Europe it is quite easy to find gluten free foods at the grocery stores. The smaller grab and go ones may only have an item or two! Definitely download Google translate and check all the labels, we’ve asked store clerks (if they’ve spoken English) before as well if Google wasn’t working well. My goal is to write more and more gluten free guides as we travel.