BLOG HOP, DAY ONE: When planning a gluten-free trip, it’s a good idea to keep the Boy Scout adage in mind: BE PREPARED. In my opinion, you can't do too much advance planning. Do as much as time will allow...you'll thank yourself on your vacation when you have more time to relax...which is why you're there in the first place!
A great place to start -- for either domestic OR international travel -- is by contacting the local chapter/support group of a Celiac association in the state or country in which you are traveling. Reaching out to these “locals” is a good idea, because you’ll be getting advice first-hand from people living in the area you’re traveling — and who probably know better than anyone about the safest places to eat in the area. And believe me, they love to share their knowledge — they are great “ambassadors.” Links to many Celiac associations (and their local chapters) can be found at the top of GlutenFreeTravelSite’s Travel Resources page.
Of course, the review area of our website, GlutenFreeTravelSite is also helpful when planning any successful gluten-free trip. You can find GF-friendly places to dine and shop at your destination by searching the database of thousands of peer-submitted gluten free REVIEWS. You may even get some suggestions for GF-friendly hotels, inns, or resorts to stay. Search broadly by state or country — or narrow your search to the town/zip code level and map the results. (Our free mobile version of the site, which can be automatically accessed on any smart phone when you enter the URL of our site into your browser, will be a great resource once your'e at your destination, too. It allows you to access all the reviews — as well as a listing of chain restaurants offering GF menus -- when you’re on-the-go.)
If you simply don't have time to do all the legwork involved in planning a gluten-free trip, there are now people who can help! Our Travel Resources page has links to travel agents and trip-planning companies who specialize in the GF market, contact information for cruise lines that accommodate gluten-free travelers, and much more.
If possible, it’s always a good idea to try and stay in a condo, efficiency, or hotel with a kitchen (like Homewood Suites, Extended Stay, and Residence Inn) so you can prepare some of your own meals, if needed. At the very least, request a fridge and microwave in your hotel room. You’ll have more flexibility to make quick meals — and be less reliant on dining out.
If considering a stay at a resort where you’ll be eating many of your meals, I recommend contacting the Executive Chef even before booking your stay. You’ll want to assess their level of gluten-free knowledge — and judge how comfortable they are in preparing safe, gluten-free meals. Is this a request they receive frequently, or do they seem hesitant or unsure? If a chef is not knowledgeable --- or worse yet, dismissive — consider staying somewhere else.
Finally, again...BE PREPARED! Anyone traveling gluten-free should also pack non-perishables to bring along on the trip (favorite snack bars, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, bread, mac-n-cheese mix, instant oatmeal, dry cereal, etc.). There may be times you need to fall back on your “stash” -- even if it's just at the airport and on the plane!
I'd love to hear YOUR tips for successful gluten-free travel, too...
If you have a comment, leave it below and you'll receive one entry into our giveaway of a $25 P.F. Chang's gift card, to be selected at random from all entries received by May 18, 2012, the last day of our Blog hop. Each person is allowed one entry/comment per day for each of the 10 days of posts (May 7-11 and May 14-18), for a total of 10 entries on THIS Blog. You have the same opportunity for entering a total of 10 times for the giveaways on the other 9 Blogs listed below. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents who are 18 years or older. The Giveaway begins May 7, 2012, and ends at 11:59 pm Eastern Time on May 18, 2012. No purchse is necessary. Odds of winning are based on the number of entries. The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be randomly chosen.
Would you like to get more great gluten-free tips on baking, dining out, and shopping for GF food? Check out today's posts from other Blog Hop participants:
Getting Started - Linda at The Gluten-Free Homemaker
Resources – Wendy at Celiacs in the House
Eating Out – Heather at Gluten-Free Cat
Frugal Tips – Janelle at Gluten Freely Frugal
Cooking – Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl
Baking – Jules at Jules Gluten Free
Kids – Lynn at Lynn’s Recipe Adventures
Lunch Boxes – Tessa at Tessa the Domestic Diva
Shopping – Laura at Gluten Free Pantry