On Traveling & Being Free From More Than Just Gluten

This photo was taken in the Navarra Region of Spain.

Alright, it's time for some real world talk. 

I don't often talk about my own personal challenges of traveling gluten free because I like to be that person that brings hope and solutions - not feelings of hopelessness or struggle. So while I may travel many places and encounter many absolutely delightful experiences eating out safely - it's not always so easy.

In my overall experience, when dining out (at most establishments - but not all!) and you start to give your server you're list of what you can't have - their eyes tend to glaze over after about the second item. Even with customized restaurant cards I've created for myself - it still seems to be quite the challenge to get past that second thing you can't have. Add a different language to the mix and things get even more complicated.

Our trip to Spain really brought out the challenge of traveling while staying free from more than just gluten. I'm playfully beginning to think about it as the trip where I ate nothing but sandwiches and willingly suffered the fog of soy. While finding gluten free options wasn't so challenging - finding dairy free or cows milk free options on top of the gluten free ones was another issue entirely. In fact, it seemed easier to find things I could eat in Southern France than Northern Spain.

Bottom line, being free from more than one type of food can be a challenge while traveling and it's even more of a challenge when dining out. 

So what do I do deal with it? 

  • Order things that would seem to be naturally free from the things I can't have - sometimes a challenge.
  • Check, double check, and re-check with my server.
  • If I'm going to a more upscale restaurant and making reservations, I send an e-mail in advance with a list of what I can't have. OpenTable is great for this.
  • If I'm not feeling great about any of my restaurant options - I opt to go to a grocery store and self cater instead.
  • If possible, book a place to stay that has a kitchen and at the very least a refrigerator.

Are you free from more than just one type of food? If so, do you find it to be an additional challenge when traveling and dining out?