The Best Places to Travel Abroad When You’re Gluten Free

Gluten free travel can be SO stressful, especially in a foreign country where the dishes may be unfamiliar. However, food is a vital part to understanding a region’s culture and people, and going out to eat is a very social activity. There is no reason that I or anyone else eating gluten free should have to miss out on these parts of traveling abroad, or have to be stuck with salad at every meal. Although I highly recommend bringing a gluten free restaurant card with you whenever you travel, here are the countries where you should have the easiest time finding delicious, cultural food without the gluten.

I know – I was as surprised as you are. Italy, land of pizza and bread, seems like it would be a gluten free nightmare, but it’s actually the opposite. Italy is a very Celiac friendly country, and not just because it is a tourist hotspot; the Italian government actually subsidizes its citizens with Celiac disease to compensate them for the increased cost of gluten free foods. Italian law requires that gluten free food be made available in schools, hospitals, and other public places. Italian restaurants are highly trained to take proper precautions for cross-contamination, and strive to create an inclusive environment for all of its patrons.

2. Vietnam

Asian food can be difficult to find gluten free (screw you, soy sauce). However, pho is a staple in Vietnamese diets, and luckily it is traditionally made with rice noodles. Fish sauce is also common, which is just as delicious as soy sauce but without the wheat. Although Asia can be a difficult continent to navigate for gluten free travelers, the abundance of rice noodles in Vietnam makes it the best country to have culinary adventures in. Just look for the white noodles!

3. Mexico

Mexico, where you can eat, sleep, and breathe tacos. Much of Mexico’s cuisine is corn based, meaning that there’s almost always going to be something on the menu that you can order without having to make substitutions. The food is also inexpensive and absolutely delicious, with some of the best meals being street food. With a naturally Celiac friendly diet, you can traverse Mexico from its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and rugged mountains without worrying about where you can eat next.

Unsplash on Unsplash

4. Australia

Australia has some of the toughest labeling laws of any country. Foods labeled as gluten free cannot have ANY detectable gluten, and foods that use derivatives from gluten containing grains must declare it on their food label. With 300,000 Australians affected by Celiac disease, the gluten free diet is well catered to in restaurants and cafés. Coeliac Australia has its own fact sheet for travelers headed to Australia, detailing where to buy food and how to safely eat out.

Unsplash on Unsplash

5. Argentina

Argentina is a nation of immigrants, most of them from Europe. With a higher percentage of European genes than any other Latin American country, Argentina also has higher rates of Celiac disease. The Argentinean government mandates proper food labeling, with gluten free products having the label “sin T.A.C.C.” The diet is heavy on meat, vegetables, and potatoes, and as around 1/100 citizens of Argentina have Celiac, restaurants are more cognizant of cross contamination than other Latin American countries may be.

Unsplash on Unsplash

6. Ireland

Irish citizens have high rates of Celiac disease, relative to the rest of the world. So, even though much of the traditional Irish diet is not naturally gluten free, awareness of the diet and of issues of cross contamination is high. Even though you may not be able to grab just any basket of fish and chips, Gluten Free Ireland has plenty of suggestions of where to eat, and supermarkets have large gluten free sections. So what you can’t grab a pint of Guinness at the local pub – gluten free ciders are almost just as popular and far less filling.

Unsplash on Unsplash

7. The United States

New York, Los Angeles, Denver, and Seattle are just a few of the cities where gluten free folk will have no problem finding something to eat. Not only are there gluten free options almost anywhere you step foot, but you can find entirely gluten free restaurants and bakeries in just about every city.

As annoying as they are, dietary restrictions don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) travel restrictions. Go forth and explore my fellow gluten free adventurers, and eat some delicious food while you’re at it.

Read More