Travelling to a foreign country as a coeliac can be a bit daunting, but gluten free translation cards make explaining your requirements a little bit easier. A gluten free translation card is a brief explanation of what the gluten free diet entails in the language of the country you are visiting. You know how easily the message can get ‘lost in translation’ in your mother tongue, so these cards are an essential part of travelling as the waiter can take it to the chef to discuss which meals may be suitable.
There are a number of places you can find this sort of information – your country coeliac association, bloggers and businesses that specialise in printing cards for all sorts of dietary requirements. Some companies will allow you to create a customised card, so for example you could explain that you are both gluten and dairy free.
The options you generally have are:
something you can print yourself
cards that are either laminated paper or plastic (often credit card size to keep in your purse)
phone apps that you can show to your waiter (NB not all apps are available in all countries)
The following lists some of the sources I have used for my translation cards (both free & paid for) – it is not exhaustive, so you can easily search online for more information.
Free individual country downloadable translations that you print yourself. A free app is also available on iTunes.
54 languages available – too many to list!
You have the opportunity to donate via PayPal if you are able to support them maintain this service.
Gluten Free Passport
Individual country downloadable translations for USD$ 2.99 each that you print yourself (you can save some money by buying a Europe Travel pack).
14 languages available – Arabic, Dutch, French, English, German, Greek, Italian, Hebrew, Latvian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish.
A credit card sized plastic card that you order online. You can also tailor make a card with any special dietary requirements. £6 each or packs available (Europe/Worldwide). UK based, but will post to any country.
18 different languages available – English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian or Spanish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Greek, Japanese, Russian, Thai and Turkish
These fold up laminated paper cards differ from the other translation cards, as they tailor the advice for the particular cuisine. USA based, but if you contact them directly they will establish postage costs for your country and mail to you. They also have an app (at time of writing was for Android only).
10 languages available – Thai, American, Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian, Greek, Indian, French
Coeliac Australia country guides / travel book / app
This Gluten Free Travel Guide has some country information as well as a translation card. It is available both as a small book and an iphone app (AUD$10.99 on iTunes). The book can be ordered online for AUD$10.
If you are a member of Coeliac Australia you also have access to over 60 country guides which are free (access via your members login on the website). These include general advice as well as a translation card.
Coeliac UK country guides
Coeliac UK have country guides and translations for many countries around the world, which are free to download (no need for membership).
www.coeliac.org.uk – go to holidays & travel
If you print a translation card, I suggest taking several copies with you as they do get bashed about a bit while travelling. I always have an English card with me as well as when I was at an Indian restaurant in Russia, the owner there spoke better English than Russian, so he preferred to look at the English version!
You may also be interested in my guide to food to take away with you when travelling – always best to be prepared!
Please share any other translation cards you have found useful in the comments area at the bottom of the page.
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