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.
I am so excited to have a featured article in this month’s Gluten-Free Living Magazine. Any time I can share my top gluten-free travel tips with the world, I jump on it. Find my “Planning a Gluten-Free Honeymoon” article on page 26-27 of the March/April 2018 issue. Keep scrolling to see my top 5 tips for a gluten-free honeymoon.
It’s July 4th weekend and time to celebrate summer. Renting a beach house, cottage, lake house, or even a city-based apartment is a great alternative to a hotel on your summer vacation. I personally love to have a home away from home during a journey. I’ve stayed in an Airbnb in both Brooklyn and Paris. I’ve also rented a cottage with my family many years on Lake Erie in Canada. There is just something really comforting coming home from a long day of sightseeing or beach-ing and having a “home” and not just a hotel room.
Another perk of having a rented home is having access to a kitchen. With a kitchen, you don’t have to dine out every single meal. This saves you a little bit of money and it also can help you better control what you are eating. You can buy basic essentials or you can fully stock your rental kitchen. It is really up to you and how much you want to cook during your stay. I find it super convenient to have access to a full-size fridge and basic appliances like a stove, toaster oven, and a microwave. Other travelers want someone else to take care of them during a vacation. There is no right or wrong.
Most likely, your rental kitchen is contaminated with gluten from either the owners or previous guests. Not to worry! With a few a few additions to your suitcase or carry-on bag, you can make your rental kitchen a little bit safer for your celiac-friendly vacation.
10 Gluten-Free Kitchen Essentials for a Summer Rental
(Note: some links below contain affiliate links)
Gluten-Free Food: Don’t assume when you get to your summer rental that the local market will carry the same gluten-free food as your home market. Bring with you basic kitchen staples like gluten-free bread, pasta, crackers, and snacks. When you visit the local supermarket or farmer’s market, look for naturally gluten-free foods like vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, fish, and other local gluten-free delicacies.
Reusable Toaster Bags: These bags keep your toast away from crumbs in a shared toaster. They can be used in both regular toasters as well as toaster ovens for toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, or to reheat other foods that fit in the bag. The toaster bags can be washed and reused. These are a great kitchen essential!
Collapsible Bowls: The best way to keep your food from being confused with gluten-filled food is to keep it separate in completely different looking containers. These collapsible bowls not only look cool, but they pack really flat and they have covers to keep gluten crumbs from falling into your food. These can be used in a shared kitchen and are perfect for campaign too!
New Sponges: Sponges are one of those things in the kitchen that can trap gluten. Toss a few brand new sponges into your kitchen essentials bag and use those during your time using a shared kitchen. Use hot, soapy water before you even start preparing your gluten-free meal in a shared kitchen!
Roll-up Cutting Boards: Just like sponges, most cutting boards are porous and can trap gluten. There is nothing worse than preparing a meal with no gluten ingredients, only to contaminate yourself from the cutting board. These brightly-colored cutting boards lie totally flat and can be rolled up and stored away. Bonus tip: choose your “celiac” color and use that cutting board for your gluten-free food prep when you get home.
Ziploc bags: Reusable plastic bags go beyond the kitchen. Use these bags to keep open food safe from crumbs or to bring home anything that is open. You can also use these bags to store food for trips to the beach, gluten-free snacks for your bag, or even to keep your suitcase safe from open liquids on your way home. I like the gallon size the best because they hold more things.
Condiments: Some kitchens have basic staples like salt, pepper, and sugar for you to use in your rental but others are often bare. I suggest tossing a bunch of deli and restaurant condiments into a bag for you to use during the trip. This not only will help you out in a pinch (of salt, haha) but you also have “clean” condiments that have never been used before. You can also buy individual condiments like San-J Gluten-Free Tamari packets or mini bottles of Cholula hot sauce directly from Amazon.
Gluten-Free Labels: I love these little stickers! Use them at home, at school, at the office, and at your vacation rental. These labels clearly mark your food as gluten-free and hopefully keeps hungry friends and family out of your food! You can also make your own labels by using mailing address labels and a Sharpie.
Cutlery: With a good wash with soap and hot water, most cutlery should be clean from past gluten. If you want to be extra careful, I suggest bringing along some of your own cutlery. You can buy either disposable or this eco-friendly bamboo cutlery.
Foil: Use traditional aluminum foil on a shared grill or oven surface. You can lie it flat or wrap your food entirely when cooking.
I am thrilled to be a contributor in the new book “Guide to Planning the Perfect Family Vacation” recently published by the team at RealFamilyTrips.com. While I do not have my own children yet, I grew up with celiac disease since I was 3 years old so all of my vacations have always been 100% gluten-free. I was more than happy to contribute my top gluten-free travel tips to this book when approached by the author.
This “Guide to Planning the Perfect Family Vacation” covers a wide variety of topics for planning travel with your children. This book includes everything from tips about planning and booking to actively exploring a new destination to inspiring the next generation of world travelers. Even without my own children I found so many tips in this book to be extremely helpful! You can find my section on page 150 of the PDF under Tips for Gluten Free Travel.
If you would like a free digital copy of this book, you can download it directly from Smashwords. This website is great because they offer a wide variety of formats including Nook, Kindle, PDF, and more. This offer is only valid until November 26, 2015 so don’t delay!
To download your free copy of “Guide to Planning the Perfect Family Vacation”:
At the end of August, I went to Mexico City and Querertaro, Mexico with my boyfriend Victor. We toured all around his nation’s capital and then visited his mother and his original hometown. We went to castles, parks, mercados, the national cathedral and so much more. I was in awe of the culture, the friendly people, and the beautiful country.
Unfortunately, around day 3 or 4 of our trip, I contracted a horrible gastrointestinal bacteria. This was one of the nastiest stomach bugs I ever had before. I fainted for the first time in my life while getting my hair cut at a Mexican hair salon and a wound up in the hospital. Needless to say, this wasn’t one of my finest travel moments.
I felt so lucky that Victor and his mom were by my side the entire time I was sick in Querertaro. They took excellent care of me and I honestly don’t think I would have survived without them. While I didn’t come home and plan on blogging about being sick, it got me thinking about some ways to stay healthy, safe, and still enjoy Mexico.
Top tips for travel to Mexico City
Stay hydrated with bottled water! Mexico City is at 7,382 feet above sea level and at high altitudes it is very easy to become dehydrated. Add in walking and pollution and you will become thirsty very quickly. Do not drink the tap water and stick to bottled water. It is very inexpensive so buy a large bottle any time you see an OXXO (a Mexican convenience store) or a pharmacy.
Wear good walking shoes. The streets and sidewalks in Mexico City aren’t the best. There are lots of cobblestones, broken sidewalks, and construction. Wearing sturdy shoes will help you navigate the streets and avoid falls.
Dress modestly. I wasn’t quite sure what to wear when we were out touring the city. Even though it was August, the temperatures weren’t sweltering hot and most Mexicans wore pants. I ended up wearing my jeans every day in Mexico City because barely anyone was wearing shorts and I didn’t want to stand out. Also, many churches have signs that request pants and covered shoulders to enter the building.
Eat cautiously. This isn’t just a tip for those of us on a gluten-free diet, but all travelers. There are people selling food everywhere in Mexico. Restaurants, take-out windows, sides of the road, out of cars, and so on. This food smells delicious but isn’t always the safest food to eat. These stands aren’t regulated and you don’t know how long the food has been sitting out. You hear about tourists getting sick from the food but locals do too. Do yourself and your stomach a favor and stick to restaurants. Note: I think it was either a smoothie or a margarita that gave me the bug. I may never know but it is always a good reminder to pay attention to what you are consuming!
Stay alert. This tip goes for any city! I didn’t feel unsafe in Mexico City but I did keep alert especially in the busy zocalo and metro. Unfortunately, pickpocketing does happen and even children are sometimes the culprits. Pay attention to the little hands that could be wandering into your bags when you aren’t looking.
There is so much more to Mexico than beaches! I think most Americans assume that Mexico consists of only beaches and resorts in Cozumel, the Mayan Riveria, Cabo, and Cozumel. I admit, all of my previous trips to Mexico involved sun, sand, surf, and frozen drinks. Not this time and I am glad. Mexico has so much more to offer than the beautiful beaches. The mountains, valley, volcanoes, ranches, and inner cities are full of life, culture, food, and amazing people. On your next trip to Mexico, venture away from the beach and explore Mexico.
Appreciate the people. I found the Mexicans to be some of the friendliest people in the world. They were kind, helpful, and appreciative. I had my boyfriend to translate for me most of the trip but the limited Spanish I had seemed to go a long way. Learn phrases such as good morning (buenos dias), nice to meet you (mucho gusto), and thank you (gracias) and you will always be greeted with a smile.
I am most thankful that my boyfriend Victor and his mother took me to a wonderful private hospital in Querertaro where the doctor actually understood Celiac Disease. Though the doctor didn’t speak a word of English, he always spoke directly to me while Victor translated.
Despite being so sick in Mexico, I actually really loved being in the cities with the locals. No resorts, no beaches, yet so much more to see, do, and learn. I cannot wait to go back and explore more of the countryside and the beautiful cities in Mexico.