Ah… the joy of travel. But only until your cravings kick in and your stomach rumbles.
If you are visiting a place for vacation, things commonly enjoyed are the sights, the fun activities, and of course, the endless array of new delicious things to try. Even if you’re only taking a business trip, eating local food would be one of the ways you can savor the experience.
But, with having celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance, you already know how frustrating it is to try to relax when you don’t know where your next safe food will be coming from.
So, what to do?
Preparation is key. Know that with just a little bit of time and effort, you can create the lovely vacation you imagine. And it will be well worth the effort.
Here are some great tips to help:
1 – Visit online forums, especially for gluten-free dining, and find out which local places serve food that fits your gluten-free diet. Luckily, you’re not alone in your quest for a hassle-free vacation. You’d be surprised at just how many people are willing to make suggestions and give handy information on where to eat and which food items to avoid at your destination. Post your questions in forums at least two weeks in advance so that you have time to get substantial replies from fellow planners like yourself. Your trusty Facebook account is a portal to dozens of gluten-free Philippines-tagged groups. You may also find dedicated forums on Celiac.com.
2 – However, if you would like to give the planning to someone else, some resources organize vacations and travel around the world that are especially gluten-free. They reduce the worrying about the nitty-gritty to a minimum. Since they specialize in gluten-free travel, they will have more options for you to choose from and can make traveling a treat, especially if you’re traveling with your friends or family. One such company is The Gluten Free Travel Site.
3 – Have a list of things you know are gluten-free, including food items and brands. If you are unsure of fast food places, restaurants, or even the food available at your hotel, visiting your nearest grocery store will be the next best thing. When the language barrier poses an additional challenge, Googling which familiar gluten-free brands are available locally will save you tons of worries.
4 – Be armed from the moment you walk out your door. Pack your own airport food. It would make things so much easier if every bit of food with allergens is correctly labeled. But especially in the Philippines, this is not the case. Airport dining is limited to only a few restaurants, and gluten-free dining is not a priority. No-frills flights like Cebu Pacific, only have snacks that typically contain gluten, and so it is best to come prepared. However, some flights, like international flights of Philippine Airlines do offer some comfort. PAL provides gluten-free meals in all classes, and gluten-free snacks may also be available. All special meals on airplanes must be ordered no less than 24 hours in advance, and so take the time to call in advance.
Want a first-hand account of the experience? Check out our review on an inflight gluten-free meal we have tried, on this blogpost.
5- When you can, pack some food items that will last a few days. Order gluten-free in advance from your go-to gluten-free shops. Online shops like GERALD.ph will deliver to your home so you don’t have to go out to buy these things especially. Crackers, cookies that can last a few days in your travel pack may just save you a day of staying indoors dealing with unpleasant symptoms. Dry gluten-free pasta that is convenient enough to cook in a hotel suite or a BnB will come in handy and will save you a few bucks, as well.
6- Take gluten inhibiting supplements in your luggage. Let us rejoice as there are multiple supplements available in the market now that may protect you from the effects of accidentally ingested gluten. Though there are gluten-free labels in food packaging and restaurants, dining experience may still feel like a game of Russian roulette.
Brands such as GlutenEase, GluteGuard, and GutenDigest can be your new best friends. Though none of these are available yet in Manila, you can have these shipped via the HealthPost site and get them in under 10 days. Most of these are meant to be taken with strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. Be careful not to have a pizza and pasta splurge! Though, take caution about checking in these supplements, as some destinations have stricter rules for supplements than others.
Now, do you think you can hack your next gluten-free vacation? We’re here with you. With these handy tips, you’ll soon find each trip less focused on where and what you can eat, and more on enjoying the experience.