Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dairy Free / Gluten Free Travel Tips

I've met a number of people who are worried about traveling if they have food intolerances.  I've traveled quite extensively over the last 20 years and have had mostly success.  Traveling domestically can be easier because of the common language but many countries are much more food allergy aware than the US.  I find that dairy in food is much more obvious and I can usually get around it with a couple of key questions ("Do you butter your grill?" for example).  I also find that if a restaurant is up on dealing with one intolerance they are more receptive to dealing with others (sadly this isn't always true, but frequently it is).

Southeast coast of Spain
Here in the US, I use these websites to find GF dining options:

Gluten Free Registry - this site has lists of gluten free restaurants by state. They also have a searchable map but that map lists all the chain restaurant locations and makes it hard to really find the independents (I can certainly eat at a Charlie Brown’s at home). There is also an option to add reviews to the restaurants (although you should note that those for the chains are grouped together and not specific to any particular location.)

Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program - the grand-daddy of them all, this site lists and ranks GF restaurants that have gone through GFRAP training. Best part is a Zip Code search which will display results by distance from a particular zip code!

Celiac Handbook Restaurant List - Another list of restaurants by State. Again, you’ll need to investigate how close these are to where you are going to be.

Gluten-Free Dining Cards by Triumph Dining (Restaurant Cards - Covers 10 Languages)Going overseas is a little more difficult especially with the language barrier. Triumph Dining makes a pack of 10 cards that explain Celiac Disease each in a different language.  The languages are English, French, Mexican (Spanish), Indian (presumably Hindi?), Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, and Japanese.  They're available online from Gluten Free Dining Cards or the Gluten Free Mall: Gluten Free Dining Cards

Since I have a number of other issues, I prefer the Food-Info Allergy Dictionary - this site allows you to access a list of common food allergies and phrases inter-translated into 30+ languages (most major world and European languages). What I mean by inter-translated is that it just isn’t English-Spanish but also Spanish-Mandarin and Russian-Japanese. Just choose your base language (English is at the top) and then select the other language from a little pull down menu. The result is a pdf file with roughly 200 phrases and allergens listed in both languages. I like to just print out those I’ll need for a trip and highlight my allergies and phrases!

The Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS) is an umbrella organization of national groups throughout Europe.  Their list of member organizations (and web links to each) is here:  I've used the website of the association in Spain which was amazing, but didn't have much luck with the site for the association in Norway.  At least it is worth a try.

My final advice would be to do a web search on key phrases (Celiac Disease, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Allergen Free) and the name of the place you are going and see what comes up. And of course, you can always post a comment here and I’ll try to help!

Additional articles you may enjoy:

Dining Dairy Free / Gluten Free in Oslo, Norway

Eating Dairy Free / Gluten Free in Buenos Aires, Argentina

And if you're heading to the New Jersey area be sure to peruse this list of New Jersey Gluten Free Dining Options and for US trips see this list of Gluten Free Chains / Fast Food Restaurants.

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