Planning a gluten free vacation (hint: it ain’t easy)


That’s right. The Gluten Dude is taking a vacation! (Put away your tears…I’ll still be posting while I’m away.)

That’s the good news. The other side of the coin is that it’s my first real vacation since I was diagnosed with celiac disease. And I must admit…I’m feeling a tad on the nervous side.

When I go on vacation, I like to…ummm…how do I put it? I like to partake in the spirits and immerse myself in the pleasure of good food.  Ok, fine. I like to party.

But the fact is the one thing you lose the most when you have celiac is spontaneity. Even in my home town, everything’s gotta be planned. There is no wingin’ it. But 1000 miles away in unfamiliar territory is posing a bit of a mental challenge for me. How do I plan my gluten free vacation?

First off, it’s a long travel day. I’m leaving the Dude ranch at 4:30am and won’t arrive at my destination (I sound like my navigation system) until about 8 hours later. And that’s if there are no delays. Breakfast at the airport? Forget about it. A quick slice of pizza waiting for a cab? Uh…nope. A gluten-free meal on Continental? Now that’s funny.

And then of course there are the three meals per day, which on vacation is really blended into one long day of eating.

So what’s a celiac to do?

Well, for starters, depend on Mrs. Dude, as I always do. Here’s a sample of what we are taking with us on the trip. And yes, that is my own sponge. (Sad…isn’t it?)


Not pictured is a six pack of New Grist beer which I’m in the process of bubble-wrapping for my suitcase.

(By the way, if you’re new to this blog, please don’t judge me based on this post alone. I’m actually a real healthy guy. Honestly. But when in Rome…)

Secondly, plan ahead. Way ahead. I’ve already spoken to the housekeeper and made them quite familiar with the do’s and don’ts of celiac disease. When I asked them to make sure they serve my food naked, they hung up on me. Then I called back and explained what I meant (no sauces, etc) and they were very receptive. But even then, I’ll watch them like a hawk while they cook. One bad meal and my vacation is shot.

Lastly, educate yourself. Do not assume you’ll find things while your there. It could make for a long, hungry vacation. I have been on all of the celiac websites I know trying to find celiac-friendly restaurants where I’ll be. I’ve read reviews on TripAdvisor. I’ve reached out to some fellow bloggers. I’ve made lots of phone calls. I will be prepared.

All in all, it will be a “different” kind of vacation than what I’m used to. A bit of freedom will indeed be lost.

But it’s the new normal, I’m grateful for the opportunity and I simply can’t wait.

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4 thoughts on “Planning a gluten free vacation (hint: it ain’t easy)”

  1. hey gluten dude – i just posted about my Tortola vacation on my blog today! here it is:

    It was kind of tough, if I’m being honest — but you look even more prepared than I was! I wish I thought to bring GF beer, I kept looking, in vain, for a Redbridge, which was just silly, no one even understood what I was talking about when I said wheat/gluten free.

    anyway – Tortola was SO AMAZING. If you’re looking to do any day sails, we booked two separate full day’s on a catamaran with gary on the Kuralu – fantastic! I should have taken a picture, but his wife made us lunch one day for the sail, and we called ahead and everything was gluten free except for the crackers! it was probably the best meal I had down there! feel free to email with any questions!

    1. Thanks Allie. Loved your post. I actually called two liquor stores in Tortola and asked them to buy a case of gluten free beer and I’d buy the whole case. Got rejected by both of them.

      I will look out for your suggestions and will indeed keep an Udi’s sandwich in my pocket at all times in case the need arises. 🙂

  2. My husband and I recently got to go away for a week alone together for the first time in… I don’t know how many years-(Um hello..8 kids. Need I say more?). I have to admit I was pretty scared. Not of leaving the kiddos with a sitter, most of them are teenagers now. I was terrified I would get sick while we were gone. We went to the Smokey Mountains-absolutely beautiful. We rented a cabin with a full kitchen so we could cook most of our meals- We stopped at the grocery store, socked up on safe food. Lucky for me, wine is available almost everywhere so I didn’t have to pack any to take with me.:) I took my own pans and utensils to be extra safe. We could have eaten every single meal in the cabin or packed lunches but I wanted to be able to enjoy some of the local flare if possible. I did a ton of research, scoped out where familiar chains were located that I have had good luck with before i.e. Logan’s , Red Robin, Cracker Barrel. I did not want to eat at the same tired places I go to all the time, unless I had no other choice but I wanted to be prepared. I read many celiac reviews,blogs and prayed HARD. We ate out at least once a day . Some days twice and to my delight I did ok. Though, I ate more bun-less burgers that week than I care to think about and it got pretty boring by the end of the week.. but we had a great time. My husband got to enjoy all the down home southern food. I didn’t get sick and ruin our vacation- Those were the important things. It was scary but It gave me more confidence about traveling and eased my fears about our upcoming family vacation this fall.( all the kiddos- 6 of whom are gluten intolerant) .

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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