Feature Friday: Meet Samantha S.

Come meet Sam, our guest who has a travel blog with a special focus on dietary needs!

Welcome back to Feature Friday! Today, we have the honor of having Samantha with us. Samantha enjoys pop culture and regularly quoting TV shows, and movies! She has a deep love for pandas, and hopes to one day become a panda nanny. She also loves music, basesball, reading, writing, and of course, travelling. Sam started a travel blog, with a specific concentration in food and dietary restrictions. As you continue reading, you’ll learn how she chose this niche for her blog. 
1. Thank you for participating in Feature Friday. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog?

Sam & her sister, Nikki
Sam & her sister, Nikki

I was born & raised in Charlotte. I still live in Charlotte & we’re practically unicorns because so many people moved here for banking jobs & it seems like there are more transplants than natives. I graduated from Wingate University with a degree in Communications & a focus in print journalism. I work for a radio promotion company where I started as an intern 8 years ago. I have 2 dogs, a cat, & 2 GloFish. I launched Gluten-Free Spirited on 3/31 after several months of research and nearly a year of deciding that I wanted to start a travel blog. I knew I needed a niche & wanted to focus on the fact that I can be a picky eater. My sister has IBS & last year, she was told to cut gluten, soy, & dairy. This has been difficult. After a road trip to Atlanta, I knew that this is what my blog would center on. I want to be a resource for travelers with dietary restrictions. 

2. Your blog focuses on dietary-conscious travellers. What is the biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve encountered while travelling?
Finding snacks at gas stations isn’t easy on road trips. Some of the bars have at least one ingredient she can’t eat. Many don’t have options for meals. It’s easy for me to grab a slice of pizza (QT has great pizza, BTW), but her options are limited. She also follows the FODMAPS diet, so she can’t have apples for example Many of the options while driving are fast food, which she can’t have either. She can only eat Arby’s with no bun so many times.

3. Are there any place you visited that surprised you [in regards to what you were expecting food-wise]? Where, and why did it surprise you?
Ruby Tuesdays because she didn’t expect their food to be that good. We were also pleasantly surprised by Golden Corral’s digital menu. It’s very informative & more restaurants should incorporate menus like this.

4. A big part of travelling is getting to try new foods you don’t necessarily have access to back home. How does your dietary restriction impact this aspect of travelling?

Sam, Chase D'Arnaud [was on the Braves], & Nikki
Sam, Chase D’Arnaud [who was on the Braves], & Nikki
Dietary restrictions make it very limited when it comes to trying new things as they have to fit those guidelines. Sometimes what it’s cooked in can also cause problems.

5. What’s the best restaurant you’ve been to that’s been able to accommodate your restrictions?
Texas Roadhouse in Matthews, NC. They have a gluten-free menu, but some items still had soy/dairy. Our waiter was super helpful & took the time to answer all of her questions & make sure she had food she could eat.

6. What tips or advice would you give a new traveller with dietary restrictions?Research places to eat beforehand whenever possible. Explain to the waitstaff what you can’t have so that they can help find what you can have or if foods can be prepared a certain way. Eventually, I want GFS to be a resource that has info on where to eat in places globally.

7. What tips or advice would you give an aspiring travel blogger?

Sam & Yang Yang at Zoo Atlanta
Sam & Yang Yang at Zoo Atlanta

Research your niche & plot out what you want to focus on. You can makes notes on what you might incorporate later (videos, FB live, etc). Try not to be overwhelmed with all the info that comes along with blogging, such as monetizing, marketing, & posting on social media. These are all important, but there’s so much info out there. Try to focus on one thing at a time. 

8. Anything else you’d like to share with us?
If you’re a reader that GFS content can help, please send me any suggestions you may have or let me know what kind of contents you want to see. Email me at  Samantha@glutenfreespirited.com.

Thank you Sam for taking the time to share your story with us! As I don’t necessarily have dietary restrictions, it never really crossed my mind how much it could affect someone’s travel experience. For me, food is a large part of the travel experience, especially since I consider it a major part of a country or a region’s culture. I can’t wait to see GFS become a great resource that helps travellers world-wide!


Did you enjoy what you read? Get to know more about the blogger!

Me-BBT-BallparkSamantha is a travel blogger, with a specific focus on picky eaters. With inspiration from her sister, Sam decided to cultivate her blog to appeal to those who have dietary restrictions, but also enjoy travelling. Sam hopes to provide a guide of where to find good food to those who usually have trouble, in order to enhance their travel experience. Connect with Sam at the following:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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