When you are gluten free, researching vacation destinations takes on a whole new level of importance and precision. Whether you are traveling in the United States or abroad, a little planning and research goes a long way toward ensuring the entire family has a great time.
Here are our best tips for enjoying a safe and tasty vacation free of gluten and full of memories.
1. Book it: Find a room with a kitchen
If possible, look for a hotel room with a kitchenette, or stay at a bed and breakfast. A kitchenette allows you the flexibility to prepare meals in your room. I like to find a grocery store and pick up eggs, breakfast meat, cereal and milk, and frozen gluten-free meals just for that comfort of being able to prepare a safe meal if needed. A room with a refrigerator and microwave also equals leftovers when dining out. Bed and breakfasts can adhere to your dietary needs and prepare a filling breakfast that sets you up for a productive day of fun.
2. Research it: Look to local resources
A quick search for local bloggers and support groups will save you hours of research. These are the best-tapped resource when it comes to dining out and shopping. And their websites usually offer lists of their favorite restaurants and dishes. Many are more than happy to put together a list of recommendations based on the type of cuisine you want to eat. And they can point you in the direction of dedicated bakeries, food tours, cidery tours and the best places to dabble in dessert.
3. Pack it: Foods and tools to tote
Packing isn’t just about what foods to pack. Remember to bring reusable utensils, condiments, salt and pepper, wet wipes, bag clips and resealable bags for leftovers. Refrain from packing your whole kitchen, but do pack foods that travel well and will fill you up when hunger hits. Start with shelf-stable options like cereal, nuts, protein bars, nut butter, jerky, dried fruit, pretzels and crackers. If space allows, include instant soup cups, ready-to-eat meals, snack packs, instant oatmeal and a loaf of your favorite bread.
4. Apps: Let your fingers do the walking
There are several apps designed to assist travelers looking for places to eat and places to shop when they are home or away. Free apps from Find Me Gluten Free, AllergyEats Mobile and Dine Gluten Free include user reviews, consumer ratings, links to menus and customizable search features. The Gluten-Free Scanner and ShopWell apps scan barcodes, read the ingredients for you, and let you know immediately if an item is gluten free. The Is That Gluten Free? app offers a searchable database full of manufacturer-verified gluten-free products from more than 500 brands.
5. Test it: Nima Sensor’s mobile testing
A mobile testing device from Nima Sensor allows users to test their food while dining out. Nima uses antibody-based chemistry to test samples of food for gluten. Place a small amount of food in one of the disposable test capsules, insert the capsule into the sensor, push a button and wait three minutes for the results to appear on the screen. If Nima detects gluten at any level, even below 20 parts per million, the screen will read “Gluten Found.” If it is gluten free, a smiley face will light up the screen.
News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at gfgotoguide.com.
Want more information, tips and destinations for gluten-free travel? Check out our Travel section!