My Life as a Gluten-Free Globetrotter
Erin Smith began her gluten-free lifestyle website, Gluten-Free Fun, in 2007. This website shares recipes, product reviews, and personal experiences of living with celiac for more than thirty years. In 2011, she launched Gluten-Free Globetrotter during a trip in the Czech Republic. Gluten-Free Globetrotter shares travel tips, international celiac resources, itinerary planning assistance, and positive encouragement to those living with celiac disease who want to travel (gluten-free) across the globe. Erin is the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group, a social community that has grown to over 1,800 members in the eight years she has been organizing the group.
In 2005, I decided I wanted to see the Grand Canyon. All of my friends were busy with work and I had a bank of vacation days that were going unused. Rather than sit and wait for someone to come with me, I left my New York City cubicle for my first solo vacation. It was during that trip that I fell in love with travel. A few years later, while in Prague, I launched Gluten-Free Globetrotter. Over the past nine years, I have taken ten solo vacations to three continents, eighteen countries, and countless states. I traveled by airplanes, trains, tuk tuks, boats, buses, and vans. I would never have had some of the most memorable experiences of my life if I let being gluten-free stop me. My favorite travel highlights include riding an elephant in Thailand, ziplining in Costa Rica, riding ATVs in Aruba, and eating gluten-free pasta outside of Vatican City.
As someone living with celiac disease for more than thirty years, all of my travels have always been gluten-free. My parents made sure I ate gluten-free on every vacation when I was a kid. As an adult, pre-trip research is now an integral part of my vacation planning.
Here are some helpful tips to make your gluten-free travel experience a success.
Do your research before you leave. Use travel and restaurant review sites to search for “gluten-free” in your destination city. Connect with gluten-free bloggers to get recommendations from celiac locals. (Support groups in that city can also be a wealth of information.) Look online for local supermarkets and health food stores near your hotel. Save your discoveries to a Google map. Pinpoint your hotel, local restaurants with gluten-free menus, supermarkets, embassies, and even hospitals in case of emergency on the map. Don’t forget to print the map before you leave in case you cannot get internet service during your trip!
Pack snacks. You never know when your next gluten-free meal might be in a faraway land. I always pack tons of LÄRABAR every time I travel. These are small enough to fit in a money belt and have gotten me through some of my hungriest travel moments. LÄRABAR have also saved me on some really long flights with really poor gluten-free options. LÄRABAR Renola is also a new favorite of mine. In many European countries, hotels offer free continental breakfast. Often this breakfast is pastry, fruit, and yogurt. Avoiding the pastries and adding Renola and fruit to the yogurt makes for a filling breakfast.
Use translation cards. Depending on my destination, I will purchase translation cards that explain what gluten-free means in multiple languages. If you have additional allergies, you can get custom-made cards online that highlight all of the foods you need to avoid.
Enjoy your trip! More than anything, do not let being gluten-free prevent you from traveling. There are so many amazing places to see in this world. With a little extra planning, an updated passport, and portable gluten-free snacks like LÄRABAR, you are well on your way to an amazing gluten-free adventure.
Safe gluten-free travels!