Written by our Director, Liz, who suffers from coeliac disease and inspired our Gluten Free Hamper Range.
There’s absolutely no reason to stop travelling abroad because you are coeliac and therefore following a strict gluten-free diet for life.
No doubt about it, when you’re first diagnosed there’s tonnes of information to take in and lots of organising to do at home. I was diagnosed myself many years ago and I remember it vividly!
It can feel overwhelming and we yearn to stay at home where it’s safe and comfortable and reasonably sorted. But with a little thinking ahead and some preparation, visiting other countries should be no problem.
Before you travel with coeliac disease:
There are certain aspects of travelling with coeliac disease that are challenging!
AIRPORTS - they can be nightmares!
Most, in my experience, make very little provision for a gluten-free diet and many a time my main meal has been a bag of crisps and a Snickers bar. Nowadays I take my own gluten free sandwich with me (boring but ok when you’re starving).
It's worth finding out if your airline caters for coeliacs as you may be able to pre- book gluten-free meals or snacks. These, I’ve found, are very worthwhile.
Nowadays, I take my own gluten-free sandwich with me, or one of our handy Gluten Free Hampers, which are perfect for travel.
Now that I've given you a heads up on airports, this article is to highlight countries that are particularly good at recognising and dealing with the coeliac condition, so let's take a look:
Which are the best countries for coeliacs?
There’s a very high awareness of the condition in Ireland.
It has a very informative coeliac organisation, Coeliac Society of Ireland, which supports and advocates for an estimated 100,000 people living in Ireland with coeliac disease and a further 450,000 gluten intolerant.
This has meant that restaurants, cafes and hotels are well geared up for it which means a safe and relaxed environment for coeliacs.
2. AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
Gluten free awareness is widespread in both countries.
They both have stringent food labelling and in New Zealand many restaurants have been trained in gluten-free and are awarded certificates.
In Australia you can actually find 100% gluten free restaurants! That’s very reassuring when you’re worried about cross-contamination.
And both countries are particularly strict about testing for gluten in the manufacturing process of foods (stricter than the UK).
You would never believe that the iconic pizza and pasta country is good for those with coeliac disease. But yes it is!
The Italian government has strict regulations on food allergies and intolerances and the country has worked hard to accomodate those living with dietary restrictions. So you’ll find dedicated gluten free bakeries (absolute heaven!), restaurants and shops all ready to serve you.
There has been a fast-growing awareness of the coeliac condition over the last few years in Sweden. Approximately 2% of the population are thought to have it which is roughly double the average of other western countries.
Shops, restaurants and cafes especially in the larger cities are geared up for it and you can even find gluten free cinnamon buns, yum! What a treat.
These are the countries that stand out to me as being good with coeliac disease. Of course you don’t have to be restricted to these! Just do some research before you travel.
One thing I can definitely recommend is buying some COELIAC TRAVEL CARDS which explain the condition in different languages. Without these, if translation’s difficult, it’s a mine-field! Available from various websites.
Another recommendation is a COELIAC TRAVEL GUIDE. The national charity Coeliac UK offers guides to 50 countries. Extremely helpful, they offer advice and information on GF products and venues, useful phrases to use and much more.
If you’re travelling abroad as a coeliac, or with one, let us know how you get on. We’d love to hear your experience!
And if you're looking for a gluten free gift to a coeliac in a country that doesn't recognise coeliac disease too well, send them one of our gluten free hampers. Full of delicious, interesting gluten free treats from top British artisan creators.
HAPPY (SAFE) TRAVELS!