The Sightseeing Celiac (and sidekick)
The amount of research I do varies by location. Internationally, I always do a lot of research before leaving. Even though I had been to 18 countries pre-celiac, and was quite comfortable doing it, I was pretty nervous adding in gluten free.
I start researching early. I use Evernote to keep lists (and blog info) so it's always at my fingertips. I recommend keeping your info somewhere you can access by internet, in case you loose any printed materials. I make lists for each city, relevant blogs, images of food, specific foods that should be safe, or are a definite no. Case in point, before leaving on our Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam trip, I forgot to print the list, yup, it happened. Thankfully, I remembered while we were in our hotel in Chicago, and was able to print it at the hotel. But there was some definite panic moments.
I work with a few different healing modalities, so I spoke with my Integrative MD, Naturopath, and acupuncturist prior to leaving. It looks like a long list, but I really packed it down to a small bag in my backpack. Bring anything that looks questionable in it's original container. I never have a problem with this in the US, but let's just say I watched Brokedown Palace (the movie where Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale smuggle drugs in Thailand and end up in a Thai jail. I'd rather not have anything be questionable).
I narrowed down my normal supplement regime to the below. A note here: All of the below are things that work for me based on my experience and working with my doctors - these may NOT be appropriate for you, and these are NOT recommendations. Make sure to check with your doctor prior to using anything listed. Ok, now that I got that out of the way:
Curing pills: an acupuncture herb that aids in digestive health
Probiotics: if you do probiotics, just make sure to find a shelf stable one
Valerian root: aids in sleep
Magnesium: also aids in sleep and can help with constipation
Electrolytes: for hydration, especially if you get travelers diarrhea
Activated Charcoal: I use this when I get gluttened. It helps to absorb whatever is in your system and move it through. I can't say if it helps terribly, but I figure it can't hurt. It can constipate you, so that's great if you have travevlers diarrhea, but just start slowly with the pill quantity - 1 might be plenty. I keep this on hand pretty much all the time, I even bring it to restaurants at home when I dine out.
Tylenol for when essential oils don't quite work.
A few cold and flu pills, just in case.
Emergen-C: probably not necessary, but I really didn't want to get sick! We took it mostly for the plane rides.
I also bring cleaning wipes and wipe down my plane seat area.
Essential Oils: we also brought essential oils in roller bottles - digize (another digestive aid), thieves (support immune system), lavender (helps with my cramps, sleep, generally being awesome) peppermint (headaches, nausea, moron sickness, bloating), a nausea blend, panaway (for all of the sitting on planes, trains, and automobiles - or massive amounts of normal walking or shuffle walking).
I like to bring some foods, but not rely on what we brought. For our Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam trip, we were gone nearly a month. We were only bringing backpacking backpacks and wanted to go as light as possible. I bought a box of Go Macro bars, Kind bars (half off a TJ Maxx), a few Pro Meal bars (some are NOT gluten free, so read the packages, but man these are filling), a box of Vega One Berry single serve shakes. I spent a lot of time searching for a quality shake, with little added crap, that could be drank with only cold water, as in, doesn't need to be blended in a shake. I found Jay Robb, but they couldn't guarantee they were gluten free. Vega One is gf and vegan relying on hemp and pea protein, not the best texture, but great ingredients - the berry were better than chocolate for this, I thought). Oh, and packets of GF soy sauce, like Tamari (when we were in SE Asia)!
With domestic flights you can get away with unpackaged food. However, each country has rules regarding what you can and can't bring into the country, so I never bring anything that is not prepackaged.
This varies greatly, but a rule of thumb for Asia, don't drink it. I mean, drink it, but don't drink it from the tap. It's not that it's bad, it's that bacteria exists in all water, and we are used to water from other places. So if you want to experience what it feels like to have your gut adjust, go for it. If you'd prefer to spend your time sightseeing and not on the toilet, I'd recommend bottled water. My husband and I are also outdoor enthusiasts and backpack. We have a UV light that kills bacteria both when backpacking outdoors, and for international travel - but not all are created equal. This was overkill, but we had it, so we brought it, just in case we were stuck in a situation where we didn't have access to bottled water. But everyone drinks bottled water, so that never happened.
Make sure to book with a gluten free meal. I also brought all of my supplements and most of my food in my carry on (aka, my husband's backpack - because those can't be replaced). We booked through a travel agent for Thailand, and he verified like 6 times for me. But if you're booking on your own, just make sure to check again prior to your flight to make sure.
This is basically a paired down version of the above. I have traveled quite a bit domestically, and really had no problems. Flights are easy because they're shorter. You can bring any snacks, just not liquid. I've brought homemade beef jerky, trail mix, packaged snacks, fruit, leftovers, whatever. I always bring any supplements into the plane with me that I can't go without. I plan ahead as well as I can by calling the hotel, and checking out local restaurants and grocery stores, depending on the length. I've stayed in hostels in the US and done some grocery shopping when I get there so I can make breakfast and store snacks and food in the fridge - both fresh food and frozen. When I'm somewhere for business or a conference, I am totally prepared with good restaurant options, so when people are wondering where to eat, you can tell them how you heard of this great place that was highly recommended (they do or do not have to know about the gluten free options).
Call ahead to your hotel and request a fridge for dietary restrictions. I've never had an issue getting one, and I've never been charged. Then you can do a little shopping, or at least store leftovers if you find great gluten free options!