My “Food” posts usually appear on Fridays. Since that got Kiboshed this past Friday, I’m sharing it today. Hopefully, I’ll be back on my normal schedule by this Friday.
While I love to travel, I haven’t had occasion in my life to actually be much of a traveler.
Then I married a British man and a month later, we’re spending the Christmas holidays in England with his family.
It was great. Beautiful. Fun. And most impressive, tasty. The British have it down pat when it comes to gluten free goodies. I enjoyed some actual dessert for the first time since October while visiting my extended family.
Now, if only I’d planned ahead a bit for the trip itself, I could have enjoyed getting there and back almost as much. We did the right thing in alerting the airline of my dietary restrictions, but I totally dropped the ball on keeping myself fed on the journey to the airport.
In an effort to spare other Gluten Free Globe Trotting Newbies, here are three of the lessons I learned.
We had a four hour drive from our home to the airport (and then another 4 hour wait once we got to the airport). I discovered that there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find suitable snacks en-route. I didn’t think about packing my own until we were barreling down Interstate 10.
We stopped at rest stations but I wasn’t able to reach in (obviously) and read the ingredients before purchasing. Gas stations weren’t much better though I did find some “Apple Chips” and a banana.
Also, even if you alert the airline, there’s no guarantee that your gluten free meal is … good. You could end up with anything from half cooked rice and a stale rice cake to a totally delectable Indian Curry. It just depends on the caterer that flight is using.
So, Lesson 1 is: Pack your snacks. Make sure you’re prepared for your road trip and any waiting you may do. Thanks to my mother-in-law, I had plenty of gluten free snacks to get me through the journey home.
You’re in a foreign city and you’re itchin’ to act like a total tourist. You grab your camera, your money, your kids and run out the door to spend the morning doing touristy stuff.
Then it’s time for lunch. Where are you going to eat?
If I were stateside, I could whip out my phone and look up area restaurant gluten free menus while I stood on a street corner. Unfortunately, the cell phone didn’t work over there (unless I happened to hitch an Internet ride on Starbuck’s free wireless).
Lesson 2 is: Don’t leave home (or hotel) without hitting Google first. Do a search for gluten free friendly restaurants and check out their menus before you do the tourist thing. Have a list of suitable restaurants with you as you tour.
X Marks the Spot
Take lesson 2 one step further and know exactly where those restaurants are located. Or at least have a general idea. There’s nothing like coming out of the Tower of London, starving, and not knowing quite where your gluten safe eating place is.
Lesson 3 is: If you know what attractions you’ll be touring that day, take a moment to scope out the area on Google and note the address(es) on your restaurant list.
A few extra minutes of preparation could have prevented a few hungry moments on my part. Live, learn and share those lessons!
I’d love to hear from other savvy (or even not so savvy) travelers. Whether gluten free or not, what kind of tips do you have to share with us globe trotting newbies?