Eating out while traveling can be difficult when you have to follow a gluten-free diet, but it is possible! I use a three part game plan: research, prepare, and ask questions, with the ultimate goal of enjoying my companions, surroundings and adventures without stress.
It helps to know a little about the culture and food habits of your destination. Explore online and in travel books, talk to people you know who live there or have traveled there, and check in with some gluten-free websites (see resources, below).
Next, look up restaurants, markets, and stores before your trip to see if they carry foods and beverages you can eat. You do not have to have special GF products; plan to eat a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains (other than wheat, barley, rye and oats!), dairy (milk, milk substitutes, and yogurt), lean proteins (fish, game meat, beef, chicken and other poultry if possible), and healthy fats (olives, avocadoes, and vegetable oils). Be cautious with nuts, seeds, oats, and sauces that my have cross-contact with gluten.
Because your choices of some foods may be limited (see above caution with nuts and seeds, for example), plan to take your own. Pack containers (small or large, depending on your travel method and length of trip) of safe GF nuts and seeds, rice cakes, crackers, popcorn, trail mix, and dried fruit. If you can take a cooler, pack yogurt, cheese, fruit, pre-cut vegetables, and even hummus and salsa if you like to dip.
Throughout your trip, do not hesitate to ask questions about foods and ingredients. It may not be helpful to ask “Is this gluten-free” but rather “Can you please tell me the ingredients?”.
Also be sure to ask if you are allowed to take your own food or beverage along, especially on flights, trains, busses, tours, and inside any building.
Ask questions in a way that is polite and non-demanding. As you know, there are people who follow a gluten-free diet to be trendy or other non-medical reasons, so employees, hosts or tour guides may not take your request seriously unless you are sincere and friendly.
You know I am all about sharing resources rather than deluging you with information, so here are my suggestions for more information.
Celiac Disease Foundation: Traveling Gluten-Free
Beyond Celiac: The Basics of Gluten-free travel
Karen Broussard: Gluten Free Travel Blog
Gluten Intolerance Group: Traveling Gluten-Free
What does a dietitian, nutritionist, and health professional do when she discovers she has to avoid gluten? I mean, avoid it to prevent painful symptoms, not to follow a trend!