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Gluten Free travel tips

Travelling has gotten more challenging as I can't tolerate gluten any longer. I'm hesitant to travel with a group that includes group meals...what have other experienced? We want to go to Ireland; packing along my own food in the US takes some space and weight that I'm not sure will work overseas. Does anyone know how available GF foods are in the UK and other European areas?

Posted by
11507 posts

I went on a RS tour a few years ago now.. and we had a family with two Celiacs on the tour.. as you know with celiacs its not even a question of not tolerating it well.. they absolutely cannot eat any .. period.

They did fine. They did bring some of their own foods.. but they ate all the group meals with us.. and in Italy the chef at one place even made them gluten free pasta.. !!

GF foods are available in a lot of places in Europe.. any grocer ( other then perhaps the small ones) will have GF products.

Yes its a little harder then not having to eat GF but I think nowadays its common enough that you can always find something to eat.. suggest you make a card up in the language of each country you are visiting so you don't have to struggle with on the spot translations.. you can google for the exact wording needed, and there are even companies that will sell you such cards with your warning in several translations.

Posted by
11 posts

I took the RS 14 day European tour last year, for the group meals the tour guide would always check to see who needed GF meals.

Posted by
1656 posts

The UK, Ireland and Spain seem to have some of the highest rates of coeliac disease in the world. As was said above all the supermarkets have a gluten free section, and these are growing every year as is the quality. In my local supermarket this has doubled in about five years. They are of course geared to the domestic taste, so if you have favourite products, bring them over or try out the local ones, I can recommend the jam tarts. In restaurants they are either marked on the menu or feel free to ask. Most food products sold in the EU have below or beside the ingredients an 'allergy advice' box. For gluten this is marked separately to wheat so a product would read 'contains wheat, gluten, barley'. It can get silly, I have seen a carton of milk with the allergy advice 'contains milk' on it. The British and Irish coeliac societies ( and both have advise on their websites for visitors to our countries.

Posted by
3 posts

What about in Paris? I'll be traveling to Paris at the end of next month and am wondering if there are some "safe" menu items I can stick with that are gluten free? I do have the cards that I printed out that explains everything, but I'd rather not have to explain the whole spiel each time I come in during the week we're in Paris. I do have a few gluten-free restaurants on my list that we'll be stopping at, but I'm sure my travel companions will be wanting to try other places as well.

Posted by
1656 posts

Brando, if you've got the cards they will help. Gluten free is 'sans gluten' in French and in France the same rules apply as across the rest of the EU. is the website for France, but the English data is minimal if you cannot speak French. When I go to France and stay in the budget hotels, there is a chain restaurant I use, Buffalo Grill, they have a list to go with their menu for people with allergies, in French, but it is there and I imagine similar are available elsewhere.

However coeliac disease is not as well known in France than in the UK, Ireland or Spain in my experience.

Posted by
796 posts

I am a celiac. I have not visited Ireland, but I visit France including Paris almost every year. I have not had a problem. I bring a Celiac info card that I found online, and printed several to keep in my day bag.

With a Rick Steve's tour, there was never a problem. The guide went out of their way to ensure I had great meals. I do research beforehand to see if there are any "natural" stores to buy GF crackers or bread. In France there is Naturalia and other bio stores; google bio or gluten free Paris. I always start the trip by bringing a small plastic container (yogurt container) filled with gf crackers for snacking, eating with cheese or whatever I pick up from the market. And I bring ziplock bags to keep the leftover bread, usually I pack it with other flat things, or bring a dollar store plastic container for it.

In Italy, I asked in a restaurant if I could use the GF bread from my daypack, they did not mind, so I had a lovely meal with cheese, olives and veggies with my bread.

Markets are my favorite thing, so I do buy small amounts of cheese and some fruit or veggies for picnic meals on my own. Paris is full of small and large parks, where many locals eat their bag lunch or purchased lunch, I fit right in with my picnic in my bag. Monoprix or Monop has many one serving salads that were great, even when I stayed in a hotel, I could buy something from Monop and have my bread or cracker to supplement the meal.

Europe is becoming more gf aware. Paris now has 2 gf restaurants! In France and Italy, gf products are sold in many pharmacies. Have a great trip.