Recently, I went to Brussels with two of my sister-in-laws and had a blast. However, one of them was a vegetarian, so while we were deciding where to eat, it was rather challenging to find places to eat with good vegetarian options that had more than chips (fries) as the only vegetarian dish. In the end, it worked out great because we ended up eating at a very nice Italian restaurant and probably had the best spinach and ricotta cannelloni of my life.
When travelling with any sort of dietary restrictions, it is very challenging. For example, if you have Ceoliac Disease, travelling through India is extremely challenging because everything has gluten in it. Likewise, travelling even through Europe is difficult if you are vegetarian or don’t eat red meat. From my own dietary restrictions, I know how challenging it can be to travel at times.
Here are my top five recommendations on how to travel when you know you can’t have certain foods.
1) Do your research. We have an entire world of knowledge at our fingertips. Look online to see which restaurants have a gluten-free menu or have a variety of vegetarian options.
2) Pack some snacks. When in doubt, carry some extra food with you. Even if you have to deal with airport security, you are still allowed to carry food with you, so there are no excuses there.
3) If you have a smartphone, use it to your advantage. There are plenty of apps out there that will help you out. For example, there is an iphone app for identifying which ingredients contain gluten and which don’t. There isn’t an app in particular that I highly recommend, but most are pretty good. I also like the app called “Gluten Free Restaurant Cards” by Pepper Stuff that translates your Coeliac Disease into 40 different languages so that you can explain to your waiter what your dietary restrictions are. I think that’s pretty cool. My experience is that there is pretty much an app for everything out there.
4) Know the culture before you travel so that there are no hidden surprises when you get to your destination. As I mentioned above, if you have Ceoliac and you plan to travel to India, you should plan on staying at a hotel that accommodates your needs or stay somewhere where you can cook yourself. Majority of Indian cuisine contains gluten, and not everything is labelled as well, so eating out is rather challenging. Your dietary requirement should never keep you from travelling and enjoying life.
5) Lastly, have fun and plan to eat simple foods. Often times, eating simple is much more enjoyable than trying to plan something extravagant for your meals. Whether you are travelling for a weekend or for a month, the bottom line for a vacation is to have fun. Be prepared with snacks, but otherwise, have some simple recipes in mind that you can quickly stir up if you are having trouble finding something to eat that fits your dietary guidelines.
Bonus: When in doubt, eat lots and lots of fruits, nuts, and seeds. They are healthy snack options that will keep you going until your next meal. And for your reference, I have included a list of some healthy gluten-free snack options.
Happy travels everyone!