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Paleo Eating on R.S. BOE 21 day tour

(For those not familiar, a paleo way of eating focuses on meats, fruits, and vegetables and avoids dairy, grains, processed foods, added sugars, legumes, and alcohol. )

We are scheduled to go on a Rick Steves 21 day Tour in the late spring. While I was thinking we will splurge occasionally with local treats that are normally off the menu for us at home, I have to stick to the paleo diet rather closely in order to avoid getting migraines. Will there be a problem, especially for the group meals, with this way of eating? I did not note this preference when filling out our personal information (and currently the system seems to be down when I log in), but I initially thought it wasn't worth noting. After the latest holiday food splurge and ensuing migraine, I'm not sure I should splurge at all. Thanks for any help.


Posted by
2252 posts

Cathy, in all my experiences with Rick Steves tours, the guide(s) will literally bend over backwards to make your group meals work for you. I do think you should call the tour office as soon as possible and let them know specifics of what you can and can't eat. Good luck and I know you will enjoy all aspects of your tour!

Posted by
14151 posts

I agree with Andi, my BOE guide did bend over backward to make sure my vegan diet was accommodated. If the guide is not familiar with Paleo, I would probably emphasize no dairy (and just guessing this is most important, but you pick the biggest problem food group for you) and work your way from there.

In thinking about what others were eating for their group meals it seemed pretty meaty from a vegan perspective, lol, so I think you will be fine. In nearly every situation the group meals were 3 courses, starter/entree/dessert so a gracious plenty as far as food is concerned. I almost always wound up being offered fruit for dessert, sometimes just cut fresh fruit, sometimes slightly sugared. The first night is a rijkstaffel in Haarlem which included many meat dishes to be eaten over rice. The rice is in separate bowls, so no problem avoiding that.

I would put some thought in to breakfast. It seemed like most places had a boiler thing for people to do soft or hard cooked eggs, and usually had some kind of fresh fruit. Most places had cold cuts and cheese as well both of which I imagine you avoid and of course croissants, bread and sometimes cake.

I do not believe legumes were served to the group at all. I had them in Cinque Terre at the group meal but IIRC that was the only time and that was my vegan plate, no one else got them.

There was a lot of alcohol in the form of wine, but no problem for you to avoid that. There were several people who did not choose alcohol on my trip and there was absolutely no issue. I do not believe there was ever a time food was cooked in alcohol. Well, except for a meat dish in Florence, but he flamed it tableside so the alcohol would have burned off.

I also started out telling my guide that I would be happy to figure out my own meals if he could tell me which group meals would be unlikely or unable to work with a vegan selection. He assured me this was not a problem, and he was 100% correct. I always had back up food just in case but never needed it.

By the way, when there is a gelato stop in Italy, you might try the sorbets. They do not have dairy altho there is some sugar. The fresh fruit ones were outstanding. I was there in the Fall and in various places had peach, pear and green apple. Oh. my. word.

Have a wonderful time! I so loved the BOE tour and I literally think about it every single day.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you both for your replies. I can log on to the tour account, but can't edit the personal information at this point. If I still can't once we are one month away from the tour start date, I will call the office so the tour guide can have a heads-up.

I really appreciate the advice about starting by emphasizing the worst offenders. In my case, that seems to be wheat and alcohol, but nothing so terribly intolerable as an actually allergy would be. On a side note, my daughter is traveling with us, and she has actual nut allergies - I included all that in her personal profile and I will be sure to work with the guide in order to avoid any emergency situation with her. I hope he or she can give us some direction for when we're on our on, too.

In any case, thanks also for the details about the group meals and breakfast. I can skip breakfast if bread options are the only ones, but it's nice to hear I won't always have to. Cold cuts and cheese are okay at times. I am happy with fruit for dessert and I will definitely check out the sorbet. I will also probably be one to have some back-up options either with me or scoped out. I am getting excited about the trip, but I suddenly pictured unending bowls of pasta and plates of bread and pastries, and I panicked a little. I don't want to miss out totally, but I'm certain I can't eat like that for three weeks without repercussions.


Posted by
14151 posts

There was not a lot of bread served at meals. It seems like there were sandwiches a couple of times....once as a picnic the guide and bus driver set up at Neuschwanstein and I think there were sandwiches at the lunch stop between Austria and Venice in a small Tirolean town in N. Italy. I am sure I had a huge salad there. Pasta-wise, I had it a lot but I'm good with that. I am not sure the regular group got served a big plate of pasta any time. At some of the Italy group meals I think they got pasta as the 1st course, then a meat dish. You will probably love the biergarten lunch stop after Dachau. It was very meaty, not very veggie. I wound up with a pretzel and sauerkraut. Some had these huge pig knuckles that were the size of your head while others had some fish on a skewer. I'm not big on beer (and really who wants to drink a huge beer then be on a bus for 2 hours??? No thanks!) but that was not a problem.

Are you any better with gluten free pasta? That was served to me one time in Venice as their regular pasta had egg in it and it was good. If that is something you can tolerate you might keep it in mind as a back up altho it is processed.

There were some times when I have wound up eating non-vegan as people would go out of their way to fix something they thought was OK for me but it had egg or something in it. It doesn't really make me sick so sometimes I just went with it because the people were trying very hard to please and I didn't want to disappoint them.

In any event, you will have fun and as long as you have back up supplies you will not worry. The rest stops along the highway were usually an AutoGrille which has a surprisingly good selection of food! You also always exit thru their store so you might keep an eye out for snacks that would work for you.

Posted by
733 posts

Pam says, "and who wants to drink a big beer and ride on a bus for two hours"

Kathy sheepishly raises hand..........