Did you know that it’s possible to travel and eat the world, even if you have a gluten sensitivity or have celiac disease? Below you’ll find the best gluten free travel destinations. I explored the topic of gluten free travel in a previous post, making recommendations for research and preparation for a trip, as well as what to do once in a destination. If you haven’t already read it, take a moment to go back now and read my Gluten Free Travel Guide.
You’ll realize that it’s not hard to travel and try new cuisines without stress, as long as you educate yourself, prepare wisely, and communicate your special needs all along the way. Readers have asked me about which countries in particular are good for foodies who also happen to be gluten free, so I’ll try to address that here.
To complement my previous advice on how to travel gluten free, I can recommend specific countries that are popular tourist destinations. I can also offer specific menu and food selections. There are also a few native dishes that should be noted for not being gluten free, that travelers with sensitivities should watch out for. Read on for some delicious choices of countries that you can easily navigate gluten free when traveling.
Believe it or not, the land of pizza and pasta is spectacular for gluten free diets! A simple, “senza glutine” is met with understanding and options. Wandering the streets of Florence or Venice or Naples, you’ll be met with signs that show gluten free pizza or pasta options around every corner. If you are carbed out, Italy is also great for simple, delicious and fresh ingredients. There are plenty of dishes that consist of simply prepared meats, cheese, vegetables, olive oil, etc.
If you’d rather cook yourself some meals, you can find a lot more gluten free products at the Italian pharmacies, not the supermarkets.
Europe as a whole can be more challenging to navigate gluten free, but many countries now include the proper labeling on packaged foods as they are more ‘westernized.’ Restaurants too are becoming more accustomed to guests with dietary restrictions, and therefore are being friendlier in identifying menu offerings that are gluten free. You just need to be aware that some European countries are not the best gluten free travel destinations, and that you need to persevere and research more thoroughly before your trip.
Mexico and South America
The land of corn! From tacos to taquitos to tortillas, the staples in most dishes in Mexico consist mostly of corn. Beans, guacamole, cheese, slow roasted meats, and fresh salsas make up most dishes in unique ways and are all naturally gluten free. Rice, corn and beans are the standard accompaniments, and tapioca-based products are plentiful. Cuisines from this part of the world are easy to navigate gluten free. Spanish also happens to be one of the easiest languages to master, so learning a few words will get you far!
There are a few seasonings that are used often here however that do contain gluten, so if you are sensitive, you’ll have to do some digging. Again, don’t hesitate to ask, and clarify.
Southeast Asia is known for dishes being heavy on rice and Thailand is no different. A few types of noodles and any dish containing soy sauce are off limits but other than those — you are free to explore the culinary side of the country. Soy sauce is not as common in Thai food, but is prevalent in other southeastern Asian cuisines, such as Vietnamese and Indonesian, so be aware.
From delicious curries to fresh seafood, Thai food is fresh, often made right in front of you, and typically naturally gluten free. Some of my favorite Thai dishes made with fish sauce and flavored with coconut milk are popular gluten free options.
Definitely try a seafood glass noodle salad, the noodles are made from mung beans, the sauce is lime meets chili deliciousness, and I like it because it can be made spicy. Or for a meaty concoction, give Larb a try. Larb is minced pork, chicken or beef with chilies, basil, lime, and often served with sticky rice.
Rice and curries are naturally gluten free. Chickpeas are a common addition to dishes, and used to make gram flour. Starches such as cauliflower and potatoes are common side dishes or used as the main ingredient in much of Indian food, most of which is vegetarian anyway. Indians also serve lentils (dahl) with many meals, and fry their fritters (pakoras) in lentil flour.
Do watch out for the breads though, as many such as naan, roti, chapati, poori and paratha are typically made with wheat flour. However, papadum is a wheat-free flatbread and a safe choice, as also dosas, which are like crepes and don’t contain gluten. Also, be sure to stay away from uppama, which is similar to dumplings and made with wheat cereal.
It’s worth advising to be careful though, some curry powders can be cross-contaminated with gluten. Always ask, remember.
Many traditional Indian desserts are made with flour, so are off limits. However, chiroti (rice pudding) is a delicious option, or rasmalai, which is a dumpling made with cottage cheese and served with thickened milk. My favorite Indian dessert is gulab jamun, fried balls of milk curd that are scented with cardamom and saffron and served warm with a lovely sugar syrup. They are definitely gluten free and should not be missed!
These are only a few of the Best Gluten Free Travel Destinations.
You Can Travel the World Gluten Free and Stress Free!
Experiencing the world and enjoying the local foods is one of the greatest pleasures of traveling. You shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore foreign cuisines and sample foods that you’d otherwise never get a chance to try. You can empower yourself when traveling and eating out anywhere in the world, as long as you commit your due diligence, take proper precautions, and communicate.
Here’s the important question! Now that you know you can confidently handle traveling gluten free, where are you off to next?