Coping with Celiac Disease While on Vacation

More than two million people in the United States have celiac disease (CD), a digestive disorder caused by a hypersensitivity to gluten proteins found wheat, rye, barely and possibly oat products.  And while the only available treatment for CD is the complete elimination of gluten-containing foods from your diet, it doesn't mean that travel to your favorite vacation spot is off limits. You just have to take some precautions. With some planning, you can eat safely and avoid any gluten-induced allergic reactions.

First off, do some research before your trip and find out if the hotel, bed and breakfast or resort where you plan to stay offers a gluten-free menu. If possible, choose a place that can accommodate your special dietary needs or that offers rooms with a kitchenette so you can store and prepare your own food.

To ensure that you'll have plenty of gluten-free restaurants to choose from once you reach your destination, go to the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program at, where you can search for restaurants that offer gluten-free menu options listed by city, state, and type of cuisine.

Before leaving on your trip, pack some simple snacks-a jar of peanut butter or gluten-free crackers or pretzels-to bring with you on the road, so if you get delayed or can't find appropriate food, you won't have to worry about being hungry and not having any options.

Here are some other travel tips to help you have a worry-free vacation. If you're traveling by

  • Air-Request a gluten-free meal in advance and remind the flight attendant that you placed the order once you board the plane. When your meal arrives, confirm that it is gluten-free.
  • Sea-Talk with the human resources staff of the cruise line you'll be using to order your gluten-free meals in advance. Then follow-up before your trip and again once you're on board the ship.
  • Land-If you're driving or taking a train or bus, bring gluten-free crackers, cookies or other favorite snacks. If you'll be traveling for a long time, try also bringing along a cooler packed with perishable, gluten-free items such as meat, cheese and yogurt.

Once you've reached your destination, put the same planning precautions that got you there into effect. Call ahead to restaurants you plan to attend to ensure that they serve gluten-free meals and then confirm the menu once arrive and again before you eat.