Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Traveling with a food allergy

I’m heading off for Spain tomorrow and it got me thinking about traveling with food allergies. I speak enough Spanish to explain that I can’t have dairy or gluten and since I’m asymptomatic (at least for gluten), I’m not as careful of cross contamination as I should be. Spaniards don’t cook with a lot of dairy so that helps as well. Anyhow, whenever traveling I like to see what resources are available to Celiacs where I’m going (and patronize them). Here in the US, I use these three websites to find GF dining options:

Gluten Free Registry - this site has lists of gluten free restaurants by state. They’ve recently added a searchable map but that map lists all the chain restaurant locations and makes it hard to really find the independents (I can certainly eat at a Charlie Brown’s at home). There is also an option to add reviews to the restaurants (although you should note that those for the chains are grouped together and not specific to any particular location.)

Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program - the grand-daddy of them all, this site lists and ranks GF restaurants that have gone through GFRAP training. Best part is a Zip Code search which will display results by distance from a particular zip code!

Celiac Handbook Restaurant List - Another list of restaurants by State. Again, you’ll need to investigate how close these are to where you are going to be.

Going overseas is a little more difficult especially with the language barrier. There are resources out there specifically for Celiac Disease (Triumph dining cards I believe) but those are only useful for gluten. Since I have a number of other issues, I prefer the Food-Info Allergy Dictionary - this site allows you to access a list of common food allergies and phrase inter-translated into 30+ languages (most major world and European languages). What I mean by inter-translated is that it just isn’t English-Spanish but also Spanish-Chinese and Russian-Japanese. Just choose your base language (English is at the top) and then select the other language from a little pull down menu. The result is a pdf file with roughly 200 phrases and allergens listed in both languages. I like to just print out those I’ll need for a trip and highlight my allergies and phrases!

I also did a quick web search for “Gluten Free Spain” and found the Asociación de Celiacos de Madrid . Large portions of their website are in English and the site includes lists of restaurant and stores carrying GF products. Turns out the association has their own GF store in Madrid so I booked a hotel that isn’t too far away and will stop by to get some bread (and cookies maybe) at the start of my trip!

My final advice would be to do a web search on both Celiac Disease and Gluten Free and the name of the place you are going and see what comes up. I found some discussions about traveling in/to Spain on some forums as well as some support groups. And of course, you can always post a comment here and I’ll try to help!

1 comment:

Jason said...

I've got a revised and expanded list of Gluten Free Travel Tips here.

Visitors (Counted on Gluten Free/Dairy Free Waffles!)

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