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Holidays and travel on gluten-free diet

Holidays and travel

  • There's no reason having coeliac disease should stop you travelling abroad.
  • Forward planning and research will help make your trip enjoyable.

Following a gluten-free diet should not prevent you from travelling in the UK or overseas. With a little preparation you can follow a gluten-free diet wherever you are in the world.

Plenty of thought and advanced planning will definitely pay off when arranging overseas holidays, business trips or longer periods of travelling. It’s advisable to do your research well in advance, so that you allow plenty of time to receive any information you may have requested.

Planning your trip

  • Contact the tour/cruise operator to let them know that you will require gluten-free meals at the time of booking. Some tour operators have a specific department that you need to contact about the provision of gluten-free meals in your chosen hotel so do check this with them when making your booking.
  • Visit our Venue Guide to search for hotels and bed and breakfasts that can cater for the gluten-free diet. The Guide is made up of Member recommended venues and those that have our GF accreditation.
  • If visiting more remote regions or camping, ensure your diet can be accommodated.
  • When travelling independently, research the local food and whether it is suitable for a gluten-free diet. Identify what foods you can rely on in an emergency.
  • Pack some emergency gluten-free snacks in your suitcase – you never know when you may need them.

Country guides

  • We have information leaflets for over 35 countries, with translations of useful phrases that you may need while you’re out and about.
  • Each one also has information about the local cuisine, applicable labelling laws and contact details for local coeliac societies.
  • The local organisation in the country can sometimes provide lists of hotels/restaurants and shops which supply gluten-free foods, as well as their gluten-free food list.

Travel insurance

  • Arrange travel insurance and inform the company that you have coeliac disease. Many insurers do not charge extra for covering someone with coeliac disease.
  • Shop around if you are unhappy with the quote.
  • As insurance policy cover can vary from company to company, you should always check the full details of your travel insurance policy carefully.
  • In EU countries, take the EU Health Insurance card as well as arranging normal travel cover.

Transport

  • Ask for gluten-free meals at the time of booking for airlines or first class Eurostar travel.
  • Double check these arrangements before you leave and make yourself known to staff when you arrive.
  • Gluten-free choices can be limited at some airports, train stations, motorway service stations and on ferries, so plan ahead and prepare food or snacks for the journey.
  • Always make sure you have emergency snacks to fall back on in case of delays or cancellations.

Taking food abroad

  • Check with your airline or tour operator whether sealed packs of gluten-free products may be brought into the country you are visiting. They sometimes also give you additional baggage allowance if you request it
  • If you require further reassurance, your GP can provide you with a letter explaining coeliac disease and why you need these products.

Self-catering

  • Take some supplies to keep you going while you get to know what is available locally.
  • Don’t forget to take your Food and Drink Directory when staying in the UK, but remember that the information doesn’t apply overseas.
  • Gluten-free products are increasingly available in Europe and other Western countries, but can be difficult to source elsewhere.
  • Bread and pasta are frequently found in large branches of supermarkets and health food shops, as well as some pharmacies, often located under the Diet section.
  • Sometimes it is possible to order online in advance and have the goods delivered to your hotel or villa.

Hotels and restaurants

  • Book your accommodation and restaurants in advance, requesting gluten-free meals at the same time.
  • Speak to the chef or front of house staff when you arrive to confirm that gluten-free meals have been arranged.
  • Follow your instincts if you are unsure whether a dish is safe and speak to the chef again.
  • Although Western style buffets are increasingly found all over the world, ensure that the gluten-free options are safe and not contaminated (for example, separate serving spoons).
  • Use the translations in our country guides to ensure that you have been fully understood.
  • If using recommendations from the local coeliac organisation, check that the information is still current and the chef has not moved on.

Food labelling abroad

  • All packaged foods in the EU are covered by the same food labelling legislation as in the UK. Manufacturers must list all deliberate ingredients in the ingredients list, regardless of the amount used. Manufacturers must emphasise the particular grain, for example, wheat, rye, barley or.oats.
  • Specific information for each country is given where possible on the individual country guides.
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