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Travelling as a Celiac / Coeliac Part 1

Flying and Staying in Hotels

Many people find ordering food in a foreign country a challenge, and this is compounded when you have to ensure you get gluten free food. Even when you speak the language, your celiac requests can be mis-understood or forgotten! To bring some control back into these situations, we have compiled the following tips and tools for getting gluten free food when flying or staying in hotels.

Some of these tips are common sense and some are based from personal experience, particularly the flying tips. If you have some Celiac Travel tips to share, please email them to us and we’ll post them on this site.

If you have recently been diagnosed, this may seem like a lot to take in at once. As with most things, what feels uncomfortable and awkward at first becomes second nature over time. We have to eat at least 3 meals a day, so you will soon become very proficient and confident at making your needs known and maintaining a gluten free diet!

Gluten Free Flying

  • When arranging your flight, remember to book a Celiac meal. Most airlines that offer a meal will provide a specially prepared Celiac meal.
  • Make yourself known to the airline staff when taking your seat to increase your chances of the meal being served to you and not to someone else. More on gluten free air travel.
  • If the promised meal does not turn up, whip out a restaurant card and explain your situation to the airline staff. This actually happened on a 10-hour flight from San Francisco to London, and a very apologetic air steward arranged for the first class passenger’s chef to prepare a special meal. This was much to the envy of the other passengers!
  • Always carry some tasty snacks with you. Good snacks to take are in the General CeliacTravel Tips. Remember that you may be asked to dispose of any un-eaten food when you enter your destination country, due to custom’s regulations.
  • If you cannot book a special meal, eat before you get on the plane. Hunger can often overcome good sense and a full stomach will reduce the temptation to eat the regular meal.
  • NEVER trust that the regular meal will be okay, even if you pick out choice pieces or scrape off sauce. You are kidding yourself.

Eating Gluten Free in Hotels

  • When arranging your accommodation, send a copy of the Catering Request Letter, either by post or email. I have had mixed success with this approach, however have not stayed in enough hotels to really comment on the effectiveness. Would love to hear from seasoned business travellers on their approach.
  • Use the CeliacTravel Restaurant Cards when dining in the hotel.
  • For breakfast, take in your own bread and ask for it to be toasted. Use your own judgement regarding the cleanliness of the toasting machine, and if in doubt DO NOT DO IT!

    Onto Gluten-Free Travel Tips Part 2: Gluten-Free Eating in Restaurants and Cafes
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