With 4 - 7 inches of snow predicted for some of the Chicagoland area this evening, who doesn't have the urge to get the heck out of Dodge? The months of February through April are particularly long ones around here with chilly temperatures, sleet, slush, and blah gray skies making regular appearances on weather forecasts. If you are like me, your mind turns to Spring Break sojourns in warmer climates and sunny summer getaways.
A big part of any getaway involves meal planning - reserving a table at that perfect place to sample regional cuisine, locating family-friendly dining options on the road, or finding restaurants that can accommodate dietary restrictions. Traveling used to mean bringing a cooler of gluten free and dairy free food with me everywhere I went. With gluten free and dairy free options popping up at mainstream grocery stores across the country, traveling with celiac disease is getting easier every day. With some pre-planning, a few snacks in your luggage, and a healthy case of wanderlust, you can enjoy traveling....without the wheat.
Here are a few tips and some itineraries to get you started. Happy travels!
1. Make a list. A list always helps me easily keep track of things I otherwise might forget to pack. Not only will I remember that cute polka dot bikini or new strappy sandals, but also gluten free vitamins and medications that may be difficult to get while on the road.
2. Research the area. Get familiar with the area you plan to visit through travel books and online blogs. Use Google maps and other online tools to identify celiac-friendly restaurants in the area along with grocery and convenience stores that carry gluten free and dairy free items. Glutenless Dining is an iPhone app that lets you search for gluten free options at major restaurant chains across the country.
3. Book celiac-friendly accommodations. With the increased demand for gluten free products, hotel chains are now starting to listen. Back in September, Omni resorts introduced gluten free breakfast buffets at all of their locations. Fairmont hotels offer "Lifestyle Cuisine Plus", meals catering to guests with specific dietary needs including gluten free options. I've had positive experiences at several Hyatt hotels, including right here in Chicago, with accommodating my dietary restrictions. In Italy, you can find many hotels offering a "celiac breakfast" with a designation right on their website. Italy is one of the best, most accommodating places I've ever traveled with celiac disease. When checking in, I always request an in-room fridge to refrigerate any perishable snacks I may buy. Dairy free yogurts, fresh fruit, and gluten free cheese sticks for my son are great for mornings or afternoon snacks after a day of sightseeing.
4. Pre-arrange dining options,and be ready for emergencies. Being spontaneous won't get you anything but potentially sick when traveling with celiac disease. Once you've researched the area (tip #2 above), select a few celiac-friendly restaurants and make your reservations ahead of time. Check out my post about gluten and dairy free dining options for tips to ensure your meal is delicious and free from gluten and dairy. I've also recently started carrying a gluten free/dairy free dining card with me.....and a container of gluten digestion enzymes in my purse just in case.
5. Pack portable snacks. I've found airport terminals one of the least accommodating places for celiacs. I always make sure I have a substantial snack on-hand, since delays are almost always guaranteed. Some great packaged on-the-go snacks to include in your travel luggage include Kind bars, Larabars or any gluten free granola bars, gluten free "trail mix" of Snyder's gluten free pretzels, nuts, Mott's fruit snacks, gluten free chex cereal and Ghirardelli chocolate chips, So Delicious single-serve chocolate coconut milks, and a package of gluten free crackers. Check out my post on other great gluten free snacking options.
Stay tuned...I'll be posting details of some of my favorite gluten free and dairy free itineraries below:
- Rocky Mountain High (Boulder, Colorado)
- Meandering through the Midwest (Michigan summers, Wisconsin winters, and long Illinois weekends)
- The Disney Diaries (Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios)
- So Cal Girls' Getaway (Del Mar and San Diego, California)
- Tuscan Treat (Florence, Sienna, and the Tuscan countryside)
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