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Gluten-free vacations and Interview with Ellen Nestorick

by Elyse the Gluten-Free Foodee

When you first adopt a gluten-free diet, a layer of complexity comes with it that you didn’t have before. That complexity is certainly brought to the forefront when it comes to planning your gluten-free vacations.

Not only do you have to make sure the facility that you’re staying at can accommodate your gluten-free diet for meals, but you also have to make sure that the city itself can provide supporting provisioning. Say, for example, you want to run out or you are on a day trip and you want some snacks, you have to know where you can and cannot get them. Otherwise, you’re going to waste precious vacation hours searching. Here are some gluten-free on-the-go snack ideas to help you plan your snacks.

Gathering this information in order to plan the perfect gluten-free vacation takes research meaning a lot of phone calls and emails. Or, thanks to Ellen Nestorick, you can book your vacation through Gluten-Free Vacations and let her take care of all that for you.

Ellen’s latest gluten-free vacation will take you to Unico 28° 87° Hotel Riviera Maya, Mexico from January 26-30th, 2023. Unicorn 20° 87° is an all-exclusive resort which means all dining, drinks, daily activities, entertainment, designated local host, band concierge, 24-hour room service, fitness centre, gratuities, and fees are included in the price of your room. Plus, there is so much more included to mention but before we get into the details we were lucky enough to have Ellen Nestorick agree to an interview with us. We were thrilled to be able to interview with Island resort.

Interview with Founder & Attendee of Gluten-free Vacations Ellen Nestorick

What made you start Gluten-Free Vacations? 

In 2018 I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and sarcoidosis and my life felt out of control. I decided to do a strict elimination diet to see if it would improve my health and it did. I’ve added many foods back into my diet, but have stayed 100% gluten-free and it has been a complete lifesaver for me! 

Once I became gluten-free, I quickly realized how difficult it was to eat out, socialize, and travel. I decided I wanted to help others travel gluten-free and in 2021 I started Gluten-free Vacations. I specialize in traveling to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Disney and helping families, couples, and groups. 

Now you are planning your first Gluten-free Vacations group trip to Mexico from January 26-30th, 2023 and it looks like you have thought of everything. As a Gluten-Free Foddee, it sounds too good to be true. 

Yes, I agree, it does sound too good to be true! Thankfully, it is true! I considered many resorts for this group trip and ultimately decided to have UNICO 20°87° host it because they take such great pride in their food. This adults-only resort has 4 restaurants, 1 café, and even a celebrity chef on rotation. Guests will enjoy everything from unique Mexican dishes to Italian cuisine. 

I also chose this resort because I understand that many gluten-free travelers have significant others or friends that love gluten (like my husband!). The resort will be able to serve unique gluten-free meals safely to their gluten-free guests while others can enjoy additional dishes. Their chefs and servers understand cross-contamination and have designated areas for preparing meals for gluten-free guests or those with allergies. This allows all travelers to have a great stress-free experience. 

You obviously have done an incredible amount of research and preparation. It is incredibly impressive. 

Thanks! I have been in the travel industry for a few years and have spent a lot of time researching and building relationships with resorts. While many resorts might steer away from hosting a gluten-free group, UNICO 20°87° is extremely welcoming. They handle dietary restrictions on a daily basis and their team is already trained and ready. 

What criteria do the travel destinations have to fulfill? 

I’m not sure what you mean by this question… 

I specialize in travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Disney. I mainly work with all-inclusive resorts because many have multiple dining options and strict policies in place for handling dietary restrictions. However, not every all-inclusive resort meets my standards. I tour resorts, meet with the staff, review menus, etc. to make sure gluten-free travelers will have safe options. I also prefer resorts that can provide comfort foods like gluten-free breads, pasta, pizza, desserts, etc. I believe that when you’re on vacation, you should have the option to indulge a little too. 

What questions should gluten-free travellers ask their hotels/ ]resorts?

Gluten-free travelers should ask their resort what menu items they have and what their policies are for guests with dietary restrictions. If there isn’t a statement on a resort’s website stating how they handle dietary restrictions, that is a big red flag for me. 

Travelers should also research online for honest reviews from others that have recently stayed at a resort. Due to Covid, many resorts have had to hire new staff and it is important to get input from others who have recently stayed at a resort. 

What are some gluten-free travel tips you can share with our readers?

My top travel tip is to make friends with the staff. This is honestly a complete game changer for clients and it can turn a mediocre trip into an incredible experience. 

For example, I had a recent client that became friendly with a manager at one of the restaurants at her resort. Every morning he looked for her and brought her different gluten-free pastries to try. He even told her the exact time they were baking gluten-free muffins so she could come back for more. Her only complaint from her trip was that she ate too much. 😊

As a part of this trip, you’ll receive a welcome bag full of goodies, a welcome cocktail hour, access to group meet-ups, the book The Guide to Traveling Gluten Free, and more. Ellen will also provide guests with recommendations for transportation, excursions, travel insurance, etc.  

Offer for Members of our Gluten-Free Foodees Gluten-Free Living, Tips, and Recipes Facebook Group!

As members of our Facebook Gluten Free Foodees: Gluten-Free Living, Tips, And Recipes, you can receive a free wine tasting with charcuterie or mixology class at the resort too. Just add “I’m a Gluten Free Foodee” in the registration comments.

Whether it’s just living your best everyday life, or going out for dinner, or even trying to stay within your gluten-free budget, adhering to your gluten-free diet takes a little more effort but the health benefits are well- worth the effort. So lean on your Gluten-Free community – and businesses like Gluten Free Vacations – to help you through the difficult parts.

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