Gluten-Free Globetrotter with Blogger Erin Smith
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
My name is Erin Smith and I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1981. This is an autoimmune disease that requires me to eat 100% gluten-free. With such an early diagnosis, I have been eating gluten-free almost my entire life! I have a unique perspective of growing up in the gluten-free community and being way ahead of the current gluten-free “trend.” I am passionate about sharing my experiences and expertise with others.
I launched my gluten-free lifestyle website Gluten-Free Fun in 2007. This website shares my experiences of growing up gluten-free, product and restaurant reviews, and basically anything that comes to my mind! In 2011, I launched my second blog, Gluten-Free Globetrotter® during a trip in the Czech Republic.
Gluten-Free Globetrotter is a website that encourages those with celiac disease to travel the world and not be scared about eating gluten-free domestically and abroad. This website also shares gluten-free travel tips, international celiac resources, itinerary planning assistance and positive reinforcement to those who are gluten-free and want to travel the globe.
When I am not Gluten-Free Globetrotting, I am the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group. This is a social community that hosts events in the New York City area and has grown to over 2,000 members in the ten years
I have been organizing the group. I am also the founder of GlutenFreelancer.com, a full service consulting business that acts as a matchmaker between gluten-free vendors and restaurants and their target customer. I help businesses grow through public relations, social media management, event planning and more.
I am originally from Long Island, NY and currently live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
What first inspired you to start your blog? Since then, which destinations have you covered?
I started thinking about my blog at the end of 2010 as I began planning a trip to the Czech Republic. I did a ton of research about where to eat gluten-free food in Prague and thought that maybe other travelers who are gluten-free would benefit from my research and experience. I launched my blog in May 2011 right after I got back from the Czech Republic.
As someone living with Celiac Disease for more than thirty years, all of my travels have always been gluten-free. I have been to 29 states, 19 countries, 3 continents and throughout it all, always 100% gluten-free! I have written about my trips to France, Thailand, Canada, Mexico, Czech Republic, and more. I cover the US extensively and since I live in New York City, I have a ton of gluten-free tips for the Big Apple including an interactive map of gluten-free friendly restaurants and bakeries in NYC! I also have a lot of tips about Portland, Oregon since I worked there for three years.
What is the main purpose of your blog? Is there a message that you’re trying to convey to your readers?
The main purpose of my blog is to encourage people with celiac disease and those on a gluten-free diet to travel the world. I aim to give top tips on how to navigate gluten-free traveling, best (and worst) destinations for people who are gluten-free, and events around the globe that are for the gluten-free traveler. My main goal is to make people comfortable with the idea of gluten-free travel and hopefully encourage someone to take their first gluten-free vacation!
What gets you into the writing mode?
I am always reading travel blogs, articles, and magazines. I also read a ton of gluten-free focused blogs. I must have over 500 blogs on my RSS feed which keeps me very busy! I get inspired by the things I read, the destinations I dream of, and even the types of food I want to eat.
What are some exciting partnerships, connections, or opportunities that have come out of your blog?
I have made many gluten-free friends around the world through Gluten-Free Globetrotter. Even if we do not speak the same language, we all face the same challenges of traveling with a restricted diet. I have shared meals with other gluten-free travelers from France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Argentina, Scotland, and many more countries! Meeting these other Gluten-Free Globetrotters is my favorite part of my blogging.
Additionally, I have been lucky enough to have some really wonderful travel experiences. In 2014, I was invited as a guest to Arenas del Mar, a resort in Costa Rica that had recently undergone intensive training on gluten-free food preparation in their hotel as a result of the owner’s daughter being diagnosed with celiac disease. The trip was wonderful and to be able to eat anything and everything at this resort without worry was a really unique experience!
A few years ago, I hosted the Gluten-Free Gourmet Getaway weekend at Good Commons in Plymouth, Vermont. This was a decadent weekend full of a 100% gluten-free menu all weekend long, lots of wine, hikes in the woods, and a very relaxing weekend. My goal with this weekend was to make all of the food experiences to feel totally worry-free with a knowledgeable staff. Our chef, sommelier, yoga teacher, and even our massage therapist were all completely gluten-free! I would love to organize more gluten-free travel events like this one.
Is your blog a business? If so, what are some of the ways that you monetize it?
My blog isn’t my business, per se, but both of my blogs and my leadership of the NYC Celiac Meetup group have given me a very wide network within the gluten-free community across the globe. This led to the launch of my gluten-free consulting business, GlutenFreelancer.com, in 2014.
What advice would you give to other women who are interested in launching a travel blog?
JUST DO IT! I launched my first blog in 2007 and assumed the only person reading it would be my mother. My audience grew organically over the years and I love it. It is so rewarding when your travels inspire others. When writing, stay true to yourself and be authentic.