The wedding day is over, and now it’s time to celebrate your marriage. A honeymoon is your chance to take a breather from wedding festivities and enjoy traveling as a married couple for the very first time. After months of planning and rejoicing on the big day, it is time to stop to reflect on your marriage and enjoy your newlywed status.
There are no rules when it comes to planning a honeymoon. Romantic and tropical destinations continue to be a top trend for honeymoons, but many newlyweds are thinking outside of the box when it comes to celebrating their love. The destination, type and destination of your trip is completely up to you. This is your first chance to travel as a married couple and make new memories.
While some people who live gluten free might be reluctant to travel, it is completely doable. Preparing for any gluten-free vacation, whether it’s a honeymoon or a family trip, requires an extra level of planning. Doing this research before you go is critical and will hopefully lead to a much more gratifying honeymoon.
Choosing your destination
Adventure vacations, road trips and even “staycations” are all gaining popularity amongst brides and grooms. Some couples want an exotic journey while others just want to lie on the beach and relax after a hectic few months leading up to their wedding. There is no right or wrong when it comes to your honeymoon. Gluten-Free Living contributor Susan Cohen, who was married in late 2016, says, “A honeymoon isn’t necessarily [about] where you go but being together and celebrating [that] you are doing something really special in your relationship.”
Newlywed couples often choose a honeymoon destination that neither person has visited in the past. This allows them to explore both their new married status as well as a new city or country. “Taking part in new experiences together is a great way to make memories,” says Cohen, who took a fall-foliage road trip to Vermont for her honeymoon.
All-inclusive resorts continue a honeymoon trend amongst newlyweds with dietary restrictions who want to kick back and relax after a wedding. The popular Sandals Resorts feature a dietary concierge who will help accommodate your food restrictions. Karisma Resorts in Jamaica and Mexico specialize in romantic getaways and directly work with you to ensure your dietary needs are met throughout your stay. The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas touches base before you even arrive to address allergen-friendly requests. The resort also provides a culinary executive during your stay to confirm your requested meals.
A cruise is another wonderful option that can accommodate allergen-friendly and gluten-free diets. Bride Marci Launer, traveling outside of the U.S. for the first time since her celiac diagnosis, and her husband, Adam, took a two-week cruise through French Polynesia for their honeymoon in 2017. Marci and Adam began communicating with the cruise line five months prior to their trip. Through emails, they were able to explain all of Marci’s food restrictions and the need to be extra careful about cross-contamination. Alerting the cruise line ahead of their honeymoon allowed the kitchen to have gluten-free bread and flour upon Marci’s arrival. The pre-planning also allowed Marci to enjoy her trip and not worry about gluten-free meals the entire time.
Traveling the open road can be an exhilarating experience for anyone. A road trip allows you to travel at your own pace and explore places you might not otherwise visit on a pre-planned tour or a cruise. Traveling by car also allows you to pack gluten-free food and tools to keep you well-fed on the road.
Before embarking on your road trip, stop at the local grocery store to stock up on essentials such as fruits, vegetables, lunch meats, cheeses and gluten-free bread. You can either bring your own cooler or purchase a Styrofoam cooler along the way. Not only will bringing your own gluten-free food keep you safe, but making your own meals also will save you money on your honeymoon.
Road trippers with celiac are getting creative on what they tote along for a road trip. While many pack food, others also bring items like a portable toaster oven, a mini-crockpot and even an electric frying pan. Camping utensils and foldable dishware are also great options for keeping you well-fed on your road trip. These items can easily be stored in a tote bag and do not take up much space.
Another perk of a honeymoon road trip is having a car to take you off the beaten trail. A small business that can cater to a gluten-free traveler is a wonderful discovery, especially when you are hungry. Smartphone apps like FindMeGlutenFree provide user-generated suggestions of gluten-free eateries across the country. To use these apps on the road, simply turn on the GPS of your smartphone and search for locations closest to you. Be sure to call the restaurant or bakery to confirm that they are still open and offer gluten-free options before you go too far out of your way.
Working with an expert
Many newlyweds do not want the added stress of planning a vacation immediately after a wedding, so they opt to work with a travel agent. Lauren Straub, founder of Authentic Travel, LLC, has a unique perspective when it comes to planning gluten-free honeymoons. Straub was diagnosed with celiac five years before her own honeymoon and was inspired to become a travel agent thanks to her personal experience.
When planning a gluten-free honeymoon with a travel agent, Straub stresses how crucial it is that your agent understands your dietary needs. “Make sure your travel agent knows what questions to ask at your destination and what is realistic in terms of dining in your desired location,” says Straub. Travel agents can help you find a resort or cruise line that is especially accommodating to special diets. They may also get you a better value for your money. A specialized travel agent such as Straub can help you navigate local restaurants, grocery stores and accommodations with kitchen access, even providing a detailed itinerary of top tourist destinations and where to eat each meal throughout your honeymoon.
Always an advocate
It is important to remember that even if you work with a travel agent, you are still the one responsible for the food you eat on your honeymoon. Think of your agent as part of your gluten-free support team. It is up to you to make your own decisions based on your comfort level at each dining location on your trip. If the food feels questionable, it is better to speak up than to get sick away from home.
“A honeymoon is the same as any other vacation when it comes to being a celiac advocate,” says Straub. This is not the time to let your guard down when it comes to food. Straub encourages you to “make yourself human and speak up for yourself” when requesting a gluten-free meal. Tell the staff that eating gluten free is something you must follow for your health. “Be direct and let the staff know [that] if there is a mistake, it will ruin your honeymoon,” adds Straub. There is nothing worse than spending your honeymoon sick on the floor of your hotel room.
Cohen echoes Straub’s suggestions, encouraging gluten-free diners to take their time when explaining their dietary needs. “Be articulate with your server,” and be patient if he or she wants to ask the chef specific questions about ingredients and preparation. It is better to be overly cautious than careless when it comes to eating away from home.
Enjoy the moments
The beauty of a honeymoon is that it is just the two of you. It is up to you to enjoy each other and make memories during this special time. The gluten-free planning is important, but it should not consume your entire trip. Pre-planning, preparing and packing gluten-free food will hopefully keep you healthy throughout your trip. Use your energy to appreciate your spouse and not worry about your next meal. Relish the moments you have with each other and celebrate your union and love. Happy honeymooning!
Erin Smith is a gluten-free blogger who has been living with celiac disease since 1981. Erin and her husband, Victor, were married in New York City in April 2017. They combined a destination wedding and mini-honeymoon in the city where they met.
Want more information, tips and destinations for gluten-free travel? Check out our Travel section!