My husband and I are on our honeymoon in Europe. Over the next 2 weeks, we’ll be hitting up London, Paris, and Istanbul. Traveling abroad while following a restricted diet is always a challenge, especially in countries where bread and gluten are prominent, but with a few handy tips and a little bit of preparation, it is totally possible to have a successful trip full of great food. This week, I’m sharing some of my strategies for having a smooth travel experience while following an elimination diet.
1. Plan Ahead (And Schedule Your Meals): Research your destination ahead of time, and create as firm a schedule as possible – with meals included, of course – so that you will always know where your next dietary-restriction-friendly meal will come from. That seems obvious, but if you’re like me and you like to wing it a little bit with the schedule, you might find yourself stranded at a mealtime with nothing you can eat.
You don’t need to meticulously plan your schedule, but at the very least, make a list of all of the sites and activities you plan to hit during the trip, and find 1-2 dining options nearby. It’s always easier to have an idea of where you can go ahead of time, especially in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, rather than trying to do it on the fly. I can tell you from experience that there is no better way to end up eating something that will not agree with you than to find yourself stranded, starving, and desperate. In Chile, I didn’t really give it much thought and ended up either sick or hungry for most of the trip. Lesson learned.
Additionally, if you have celiac disease and are worried about cross-contamination, you may want to look into Celiac Travel, where you can download Gluten Free Restaurant Cards in any of 54 different languages.
2. Stay in Vacation Rentals (Instead of Hotels): Home rental sites like Air B&B, VRBO, and Home Away are probably the best thing that have happened to travelers with a special diet in a long time. Assuming you don’t require a dedicated gluten-free kitchen (I don’t have celiac disease, so I don’t), having your own kitchen makes things a lot easier. We are staying in Air B&B apartments throughout the entire trip, which means that I will be able to make breakfast for myself (in my experience, the hardest meal to eat out, especially in pastry-loving France), prepare snacks, and have a fridge handy, just in case. It’s also a huge money-saver, as it turns out. Not only will we save by not eating every meal out, it turns out that the nightly rate for an entire apartment (in some cases, palatial ones) was significantly cheaper than a mid-priced hotel.
3. Shop at Grocery Stores and Neighborhood Markets (and Carry Snacks): Not only is a local supermarket, or food shop or market of any kind, a great window into a culture, it it also an indispensable resource for elimination diet-friendly food. We have had kitchens in two of our last three international destinations, and we will have kitchens at all of our stops on this trip. At the very least, supermarkets are convenient sources of healthy snacks to ward off the walking-around-all-day hangries and quick breakfast options like eggs, yogurt (if you can tolerate it), and fresh fruit. If you’re on the go and can’t find a good lunch place, you can also put together a great picnic with odds and ends from the grocery store or local open-air market. It also goes without saying that this is a huge money-saver as well!
4. Google it (Seriously): Before I left for this trip, I did a couple simple searches for gluten-free and low carb/paleo dining options in the three cities we will be visiting. This allowed me to get a general sense of how easy it will be to find food that I will be able to eat (I’ve been to each of these cities before, but that was in the days before I had food restrictions) and to start to plan my itinerary. Simple searches for “Gluten free [city]” and “Paleo [city]” or “Paleo restaurants [city]” yielded lots of results, including restaurant recommendations and firsthand accounts of successful gluten-free and paleo-friendly itineraries in these cities.
Over the next couple of posts, I’ll be sharing the best resources and some restaurant suggestions for each of the cities on our itinerary (and you can also follow me on Instagram for more trip updates), so stay tuned!
Your turn: What are your best strategies for sticking to a special diet while traveling?
PS: If you click on any of the Air B&B links in this post, you’ll receive $25 toward your first booking!
note: this post contains affiliate links
photo source: Google images
Selena @ The Nutritious Kitchen says
Oh em gee
Girrrrlll you are on your honeymoon right now? In EUROPE?! Gah I am totally living through you at the moment as I cram for my biochemistry final and endless projects.
Regardless, congrats on the honeymoon and taking this vacation, you deserve it! These tips are great too btw. Even though I am not paleo or gluten free, I love to do research on healthier options whenever I travel and I am sure so many people will appreciate these tips!
Hope you are havng an amazing time and will for sure be checking out those Air B&B links 🙂
Nora (A Clean Bake) says
Yes, ma’am! It was spectacular, if I do say so myself. I’m glad you could live vicariously, and I hope your exams went well!!!
Traci | Vanilla And Bean says
Yayyyy for an European vacation, Nora! How funnnnn!!! What fabulous experiences you two must be having! Thank you for all these tips… I couldnt agree more about Air BnB or VRBO. Since my first stay several years ago with VRBO, then another with Air BnB, we rarely stay at hotels anymore. They are sooo convenient, more affordable and comfortable! When we road trip, we take a cooler and pack our own lunches and breakfasts (lots of salads, snadwiches, fruit and overnight oats!) It’s so easy and we stop along the way and eat lunch in beautiful parks. It’s a lot of fun and just takes a bit of extra planning.. but it makes our trip so much more enjoyable! Wishing you two all the best on your HM!! xx
Nora (A Clean Bake) says
I have heard wonderful things about VRBO, and want to try it next time. Air B&B was, for the most part, wonderful and overall I think staying in apartments is such a fun experience! Oh my gosh, and a cooler in the back seat on road trips makes everything so much easier and more pleasant!
Great tips! When my family traveled to Florence, Italy, we stayed at this apartment-like “hotel” and it was amazing. It was like living in an art museum because there were paintings on the walls of every room, and then the kitchen. At night, we could see the beautiful city lights and hear music playing softly in the distance. We shopped at a local grocery store and I agree it’s a great cultural experience and really cool to see what kinds of foods they have in stock (: Hope you’re having fun!!
Nora (A Clean Bake) says
Oh my gosh, that apartment sounds amazing!! To me, food shopping is one of the best ways to get a sense of every day life in a culture, and it is so fun to cook, especially when there is an amazing view from the kitchen and dining room!