When I was first diagnosed with a gluten intolerance almost five years ago, I was worried about the prospect of giving up many of my staple foods—pasta, bread, and dumplings bought in bulk and kept in the freezer for emergencies. While the transition to a totally gluten-free diet was logistically easy for me—I live in New York City, where dietary restrictions are common and most grocery stores stock gluten-free staples—I realize that’s not the case for everyone, and emotionally, it took a while to get the hang of. And while I have my everyday routines down pat now, eating out while traveling, both domestically and abroad, is still something of a challenge. Awareness about allergies and food intolerance really varies, from city to city and even restaurant to restaurant, but I’ve learned it’s completely possible to travel and try new cuisines without getting sick. Here are some tips that really work for me.
Plan ahead as much as possible
Search for restaurants that other gluten-free travelers recommend (TripAdvisor and gluten-free travel blogs are particularly useful), and make reservations at a few places if you can. Also, keep a running list of accommodating cafes, markets, and grocery stores in the neighborhoods you plan to check out. I personally like to use a Google Maps list for this, but a text list or annotated paper map works just as well if you don’t have cell phone data access.