(BPT) - Gluten-free diets are on the rise, especially with an estimated one in 133 Americans affected by Celiac disease, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. When a member of the family has a restricted diet, travel can be challenging, but with advance preparation you can take the guesswork out of summer vacation and focus on having fun with your loved ones instead. Whether you’re hitting the road, sky or rails, here are five simple tricks for stress-free, gluten-free travel:
Plan meals ahead of time
Avoid “Is there anything on the menu I can actually eat?” moments by reserving gluten-free meals in advance when traveling by air or sea and researching gluten-free-friendly restaurants wherever you’ll be staying. Since most restaurants post their menus online these days, a quick scan of their offerings before heading out the door can help you steer meal plans toward places that offer gluten-free dishes and ensure that everyone enjoys mealtime.
Pack your own snacks
While gluten-free foods are more prevalent than ever, the options can still be limited in many places around the world, so remember to pack travel-friendly snacks before departure. You want to focus on satisfying, wholesome options that can tide you over until your next meal. Some of these options include: dried fruit, nuts, or new Snack Factory(R) Pretzel Crisps(R) Gluten Free Minis in Original and Salted Caramel flavors. The resealable bags are ideal for snacking throughout long road trips and sharing with any family member craving a crunchy, wholesome treat.
Cook if you can
Remove the risk of eating unknown ingredients on the road by opting to stay at places where you have control of the cooking quarters. Many hotels offer eat-in cooking facilities that are perfect for those who need to stick to a controlled diet and home or apartment rentals typically include kitchens. Stock up on gluten-free groceries from the local supermarket and enjoy a home cooked meal on vacation. You’ll also enjoy the added bonus of saving money by not dining out for every meal.
Learn the lingo
If you’ll be traveling to a foreign country, be sure to brush up on important words that can make all the difference during mealtime. Food allergy translation cards have become a common travel tool for those adhering to a gluten-free diet. Printable or downloadable to a mobile device, these cards can help communicate the exact ingredients you’d like to avoid when purchasing or ordering foods in an unfamiliar language.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to locals. Many cities have gluten-free or Celiac disease support groups, the members of which will be able to offer you guidance and suggestions on where and what to eat in the area. Organizations such as the Gluten Intolerance Group offer an online directory of local community branches that can be an invaluable resource when journeying away from home.