Gluten-Free International Travel (Part 1)

If I could magically eat gluten again, the first thing I would do is book an international journey. I love to think about eating freshly-baked bread and pastries in France or sampling pasta and pizza in Italy. Unfortunately, to be able to go anywhere and try anything I want is still only a fantasy.

For the longest time, I was under the assumption that I would not be able to enjoy traveling now that I live gluten-free. In fact, I was pretty angry about not being able to experience traveling in the way that other young adults could. I couldn’t backpack through Europe, staying in hostels and surviving on bread and cheese. I couldn’t study abroad because I was too sick. I couldn’t explore exotic locales, eating street food at midnight.

My head was filled with negative thoughts about all the things I couldn’t do…

Until my sister did.

She studied abroad for an entire semester. She’s traveled to Europe and Asia and South America. Yes, she got glutened sometimes. No, she couldn’t eat bread or cheese in France.

But she did it.

And more importantly, she enjoyed it.

girl with camera

She inspired me to think more positively and to start using my energy to figure out HOW instead of focusing on CAN’T.

I started slowly. My first international travel experience was my honeymoon. Once I let go of my anxiety about food, I was able to focus more on enjoying the travel experience.

As a young newlywed, I couldn’t afford to go jaunting off to Europe any time I wanted to, but I was able to accompany my husband on a few of his work trips.

In November 2011, we spent 10+ days in Europe, traveling around Germany,

IMG_0432 IMG_0452 IMG_0441IMG_0427



IMG_0471IMG_0472 IMG_0469 IMG_0456

and the Netherlands.

SONY DSC IMG_0399 IMG_0390 IMG_0381

We visited friends, sampled glühwein at Christmas markets, and went wine tasting in Alsace.

maybe a little too much wine tasting

maybe a little too much wine tasting

It was incredible.


I even got to eat (gluten-free) bread and cheese in France.


The bread was from a grocery store chain, but I think it still counts.

Living gluten-free doesn’t have to be a prison sentence. If you find yourself saying you CAN’T do something in your life because you don’t eat gluten, I challenge you to start thinking about HOW you can find a way to do it. If you’re stuck, ask a friend or loved one to help brainstorm. Or ask someone here how they did it.

Without my sister’s influence, I never would have thought it possible to enjoy traveling.

I was wrong.

Plus, I would have missed out on this amazingness:


With each year that passes, it is getting easier and easier to travel gluten-free. I still have lots of places I want to go, lots of cultures I want to experience, and I look forward to planning those adventures…some day.

Part 2 of this post will cover places my family and I have already visited as well as helpful resources for planning your gluten-free travels.