Health,  Podcast

How to Travel With Celiac Disease – Gluten Free Travel – Interview with Matt from Wheatless Wanderlust

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Can you imagine not being able to travel because you’re scared the most basic meal in any country could make you really sick? That’s what life was like for Matt when he found out he had celiac disease in his freshman year of college.

Two years after being diagnosed, he was given a dream opportunity to study abroad but declined, not feeling able to step outside of his comfort zone. After much regret, Matt knew he had to take back control of his life. So, he worked out a strategy to keep him healthy while away from home. He’s now visited nearly every continent with confidence and wants to share everything he’s learned about gluten-free travel with you.

What we talk about in the episode:

  • How do you travel overseas as a celiac?
  • How do you find gluten-free and celiac-friendly restaurants?
  • What questions should you ask at a restaurant when you’re celiac?
  • How do you deal with language barriers in foreign countries?
  • What country is best to visit as a celiac?
  • And Matt gives plenty more tips for eating gluten-free while traveling.

If you have celiac disease, eat gluten-free, or have a food intolerance holding you back from travel, check out Matt’s excellent tips in today’s episode!

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Google PlaySpotify, and Stitcher!

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Snippets from this episode:

(Has been edited for readability)

How do you travel overseas as a celiac?

Matt: “I view planning my travels as building myself a safety net so that I can take a step outside my comfort zone, so everything I do when I’m planning is to make sure I feel comfortable going to that new city or going to that place where I don’t speak the language. I make sure I have a foundation. I book Airbnb’s so I can cook for myself, I bring gluten-free restaurant cards that can help me translate, and I know where the grocery stores are where I can shop. These make up a great safety net in case I can’t find gluten-free food.”

How do you find gluten-free and celiac-friendly restaurants?

Matt has a strategy to keep him healthy while traveling. There are two steps in his “safety net” plan. 

The first is to make your list and check it twice.

Make a list of all the restaurants you’d like to eat at using the Find Me Gluten Free app and the Dedicated Gluten Free app. You can also check out Trip Advisor and search “celiac” and the destination you’re going to travel to see if there are any other restaurants that didn’t make it on those apps. Finally, Google “gluten-free” with the city and check out some blogger’s websites.

Make a custom Google map and put in all the restaurants that you’d like to visit as well as the activities or sights you want to see, this way you can see which restaurants are close by.

The second step is to reach out to the restaurants you’re interested in via email before your trip. Contact them in English first, then if they haven’t responded in a week, use Google Translate to contact them in their local language. Ask in an approachable way if they can serve you as a celiac and if their gluten-free options are also suitable for celiacs.

What questions should you ask at a restaurant when you’re celiac?

Some questions to ask are:

“Are the gluten-free meals cooked on the same surface as gluten?” 
“Is the gluten-free food prepared its own area?”
“Do you have a dedicated fryer for gluten-free food?”

How do you deal with language barriers in foreign countries?

Legal Nomads have Gluten Free Travel Cards available who were created by a celiac and written with the traveler in mind. They include local dish names, not just a generic translation. Two local translators also double-check them. These are a great back up option for when your restaurant list doesn’t go to plan. 

What else can you do while traveling to make your life easier?

Matt always brings snacks from home – often gluten-free bread, gluten-free crackers, nuts, and nut butter packets (as the jar can get taken by airport security). The amount of food he brings depends on the destination he’s visiting. Bring enough to get through the first couple of days then explore the local grocery stores.

What country is best to visit as a celiac?

Matt recommends visiting Italy as a celiac. Although it seems counterintuitive, many Italians have celiac disease, so many restaurants cater to it.

Listen to our full chat now on Apple Podcasts, Google PlaySpotify, and Stitcher!

Find Matt through:

Instagram
Website: https://wheatlesswanderlust.com

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Apps:
Find Me Gluten Free
Dedicated Gluten Free

Websites:
For Gluten Sake
Happy Coeliac
Gluten Free Cuppa Tea
Trip Advisor

Gluten-Free Travel Cards
Legal Nomads

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