GLUTEN FREE TRAVEL: EAT SAFELY AS A CELIAC, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD™
PHOTO: Variety of gluten free products | Gluten Free and Celiac Travel Resources | Vacation Pros
How to travel safely as a celiac and gluten free traveller
Vacation Pros is thrilled to partner with Legal Nomad to connect our clients with these gluten free restaurant cards, an exceptional resource to ensure you can safely travel the world without the worry of being sickened by something you eat. These paid gluten free translation cards were written by travel and food writer Jodi Ettenberg, who ate her way around the world as a celiac and made them to help others do the same. The cards use local dish names, not just a direct translation of ingredients, and mention cross-contamination in both preparation and frying. Each card goes through two sets of translations to ensure accuracy with at least one of the translators familiar with celiac disease. They are priced at $8.99 per card.
From Legal Nomad
I have celiac disease and was diagnosed in early 2000s, before awareness was as high as it is now. Knowledge of the disease is understandably low in many developing countries, but myths also abound in the West. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, one that affects not just my stomach when I eat gluten, but also my joints, my skin, my mood, and my ability to function properly. It is not an allergy; a wheat allergy is something different. When I embarked on my travels in 2008, I realized that needing to be strictly gluten free was an added stressor over and above the worries that crop up on the road. I started this blog around the same time, but rarely wrote about travel with celiac disease. I travelled with gluten free restaurant cards that I found and purchased or downloaded online, and tried my best.
The problem is, I still got sick when I used them as I travelled.
So in 2016, after hearing from others with celiac disease who struggled to eat safely on the road, I decided to build my own detailed cards. My cards would be longer, and more detailed, with special mention of cross-contact and cross-contamination, two issues that got me ‘glutened’ around the globe. I started with Japan, and built a very long guide to accompany the card. Initially, the cards were donation-only, but no one donated. Since I was paying for translations, and working many hours on the free guides that went with the cards, I decided to start charging for them. As of 2023, I am offering 14 languages with several others (Croatian, Swedish, Khmer, etc) in the works for this year.
I hope these cards help you stay safer when you travel, and give you more peace of mind to explore with joy.
I understand what it’s like to worry about what you’re eating. The effects of eating gluten for me last for days, and can come from something as innocuous as consuming something that was fried in contaminated oil. So if I eat a spring roll made with rice paper that was fried in the same oil as a breaded product, I will still get sick.
You may have seen other gluten free restaurant cards, and many are great for those following a GF diet. As a celiac who is extremely sensitive, I still got sick using them. I very much appreciate the work and effort that went into the freely available cards—but sadly they were not enough.
What makes these gluten free restaurant cards so good?
The Legal Nomads cards are:
✅ Researched by a celiac who loves to eat (me!)
✅ Available for immediate download. You can save this card on your phone, or reduce the size to print and use as you travel.
✅ Provide detailed instructions with local ingredients and lists of what you can/cannot eat help you eat safely.
✅ Have a clear mention of cross-contact, care with preparation, and contaminated oil.
✅ Are polite but firm: they apologize for any inconvenience, but make clear eating that gluten free is not optional for celiacs.
✅ Go through two sets of translations for accuracy, with at least one native speakers who is familiar with celiac disease.
The legal nomads celiac cards, as featured in The New York Times
PHOTO: The New York Times logo
“If you’re travelling with a health-related dietary restriction like celiac disease, as Ms. Ettenberg does, keep a series of handy translation cards that accurately convey your dietary needs. If you’re gluten-free, Ms. Ettenberg’s own cards account for cross-contamination and many local dish names.”
How much do these gluten free and celiac restaurant cards cost?
For roughly the price of an appetizer, you can travel safely, with less anxiety as a celiac — and eat well while you do so.
These cards will not only explain your needs as a strictly gluten free diner, but also address cross contamination using local food names to get exactly the meal you want and need.
PHOTO: The old branding of the celiac translation cards in action, on an iPhone 6.