Food, Lodging, Packing, and Travel Insurance Tips

Food:

  • Make sure you know how to say gluten free, wheat, etc. in the language of the country you are visiting.  I have found that wheat (and barley and rye when necessary) is the best descriptor. When I sat down at my first restaurant in Spain, I kept saying flour in what I thought was Spanish. Our poor server had no idea what I was talking about. Wheat seemed to be much clearer, and I have stuck with that since.
  • Don’t forget to print your traveler’s dining card.
  • Research!! I always print a document with major grocery chains that carry gluten free products and any restaurants in the area that may have a gluten free menu. I am never above bringing my own gluten free bread to a restaurant 🙂
  • Call your airline 24 hours before you leave! I learned too late (or forgot) to many times!  Most international flights will provide a gluten free meal, I often get served first and my food is sometimes more appealing than my husband’s.  Both Scandinavian Airlines and Iberian Airlines have offered these meals.  I know they are not the only ones. You don’t have to starve on that nine hour flight!

Lodging:

  • This is an area of extreme personal preference, and an area where I am incredibly biased. I like being in the middle of a city, not on the outskirts where you have to take a cab to dinner every night. I like to step outside my door and be close to everything. I also love to do laundry so I can pack less. Due to this, Airbnb is definitely my preferred way to travel.  By reading reviews carefully and being very proactive with communication, we have always had very positive Airbnb stays. We have found our favorite restaurants by asking our hosts where they eat. We have selected the right areas to visit and the areas to avoid by listening to their tips. Once, our host even took me to the urgent care and translated for me when I was sick.  It truly makes you feel like part of the community.
  • There are times that Airbnb does not work out. In those cases, I always look for small boutique hotels that are still in the city center. We had great luck with this when we had a last minute stop to Quebec City and Granada and didn’t have time to book an Airbnb.
  • Here are some of our favorite stays:

Packing:

luggage

This is me carrying almost all of our luggage in Zadar, Croatia.

  • First, every trip we take, I learn to pack lighter and smarter.  There are things I’ve learned it’s worth bringing and things I’ve learned to leave behind and purchase if I need it. I can’t wait for my next travels to pack even better.
  • I still often opt to check a bag, but it’s often a small wheeled bag. I prefer two smaller, lighter bags verses one large bag which can be heavy and harder on trains, ferries, etc.
    • My current carry-on favorite. I like the size and ease of carrying it on my back to keep my hands free. I also find that soft bags fit easiest in the overhead compartment. I go with the 45L for carry-on but my husband has the 60L which is also a great bag for checking.  The 60L is pictured above.
  • I like to dedicate a table to packing in the weeks leading up to our trip.  As I think of something that I might want to bring, I place it on the table. The vacation station, as I call it, helps me stay organized without making endless lists of what I need to bring.
  • I love plastic bags. I rarely use toiletry bags anymore. I like being able to see what’s in the bag. I can organize the bags and use various sizes.
    • Snack Size:
      • Awesome for things that may come in a box or jar but that you don’t want to pack the whole thing. Medicine, band aids, etc. Huge space saver!
      • Necklaces! I use one per necklace. I can see all my jewelry without having anything get tangled.
      • I hate antibacterial, but always want something to clean my hands with while traveling. I will often fill a small bag with alcohol wipes.  I also recently saw that The Honest Company has a hand sanitizer that isn’t antibacterial. I am going to look into that!
    • Quart Size:
      • No brainer: Good for taking things through security 🙂
    • Gallon Size:
      • When we travel over two weeks, I often pack small, but full-sized, toiletries.  I put them into the gallon bags. This keeps everything dry and we don’t run out half way through our trip.  As I typically acquire wine wherever we go, I will often leave whatever is left of our toiletries behind at our last stop.
      • In the end, I will bring a few gallon bags. One just for shower products that will be wet. One just with medicine, first aide, etc. One with sunscreen — depending where we are going.
  • Make a travel folder with all of your documents, confirmations, etc. It’s always nice to have a place to access details quickly while on the go.  Especially when you may not have data all the time when abroad.  Make sure to include your celiac dining card.

Travel Insurance:

  • I cannot speak to this one very much. We have been pretty lucky *knock on wood* in our travels.  We have never purchased insurance but have debated it often.  In the end, we found we were already covered for many of the areas that I was looking for coverage in. This is what I’ve learned:
    • Check with your current insurance provider. You are often covered by your insurance. Ours is reimbursement only and documents need to be translated, but that is often worth getting a bill repaid and not having to pay extra for insurance.
    • Check with your credit card company. At some point, I will probably create an entire post on the Chase Sapphire Card.  We are constantly pleased with our rewards and service. We were even more pleased when we discovered how much the card itself insures.  From lost bags to flight cancellations to rental car insurance, as long as you book with your card, a lot is covered without any extra fees.
    • Read travel insurance fine print carefully before purchase.  I know with the increase in terrorist activity around our world, I considered purchasing insurance in case we wanted to cancel our trip last minute. The cancellation coverage is VERY specific, and it did not cover what I hoped it would.
    • Read Nomadic Matt’s article which gives additional perspective and recommends some companies.

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