When traveling with celiac disease, we are always on the hunt for celiac-friendly places to grab a meal. Whether you are in the next town over or on the other side of the globe, finding food that is gluten-free can sometimes be a challenge. I usually do as much research ahead of time, but there are also times you need to find something while on the go. There are some great tools which can help you navigate your way to a gluten-free meal when away from home.
Here are my top five online resources for finding gluten-free food.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
Social media is one of the quickest ways to find gluten-free recommendations. Put a tweet out to the world and someone is almost guaranteed to respond to you right away. Search for hashtags for your destination city such as #glutenfreenyc, #glutenfreeparis and so on. Look for accounts of people living in those cities because celiac locals are usually your best resource.
Facebook pages and groups are another helpful resource. Last year, I started the Celiac Travel Facebook group which has now grown to more than 3,000 members. This is an awesome resource built by other celiac travelers from around the world.
Gluten-Free Review Sites/Apps
There are international review sites and apps that are built based on reviews by gluten-free customers. Some popular apps in the United States are FindMeGlutenFree, AllergyEats, and Spokin. These apps usually let you search by your current location which makes finding food on the go a snap. You can filter by meal, preferences, distance, and more.
When using these apps, be sure to read all reviews very carefully. Check on the dates these reviews were posted! The most disappointing experience is reading a great review only to realize it was posted 3 years ago and the place is no longer open. Also, some of these apps allow for advertising. Be mindful of this feature too!
“Mainstream” Review Sites
Websites such as Yelp!, OpenTable, Google Maps, and TripAdvisor are (unexpectedly) helpful when trying to find gluten-free recommendations. Many people often overlook these sites since they aren’t specific to the gluten-free community.
I am personally a huge fan of TripAdvisor since I see it as a one-stop-shop for finding hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. There are also some great forums where many other celiac travelers post questions and answers. There are also many reviews for restaurants and hotels that can accommodate a celiac traveler.
The website OpenTable plays a double role when it comes to finding gluten-free friendly restaurants. First, you can find restaurants that have a “gluten-free” menu filter as well as choosing the type of cuisine, budget, and ambiance you desire. Second, you can make a reservation directly from the site and include your dietary needs. Simply fill out the “special request” section of your profile when making a reservation and your notes will automatically be sent directly to the restaurant along. This is an awesome tool that I have used across the globe. Read more on how I use OpenTable to make my gluten-free dining reservations.
Local Support Groups and Associations
I use this tool more for pre-planning of where to eat rather than on the go. Local support groups are a wonderful online resource for finding restaurants in your destination city. As I said earlier, local people with celiac are often your best resource. Find these groups on Facebook by searching for city name and gluten-free. Many international celiac associations also have restaurant lists and resources for their country including local language translation cards. I use these websites most often when traveling in Europe.
This is another tool I use for pre-planning. Many of these bloggers are also on social media, so you may have already connected with them if you use Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Both local celiac bloggers as well as gluten-free travel bloggers such as myself, these are great resources for finding personal recommendations from people who have eaten gluten-free meals in your city of choice. I’ve also emailed directly with bloggers and found this to be tremendously helpful. Bloggers are eager to share their personal experiences with the world and are usually very receptive to your emails. Have questions for me? Email me any time!
Remember: When using these websites, social media tools, and apps, don’t forget to ALWAYS talk to the restaurant about your dietary restrictions. It is up to you to be your own best gluten-free advocate both while traveling and at home.
What tools do you use when traveling?