As vacation always seems to be around the corner, many families are trying to utilize the last days before the kids get out of school to plan their getaway. For those of us with children with gluten allergies or other allergic conditions, we are particularly stressed out because traveling always makes for more challenges. So what exactly should you be doing to make sure your vacation goes off without a hitch?
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1. Pack snacks for travel for both to and from your destination.
But, be mindful of other allergies if you are in a tight public space like an airplane or a train. I have a NO NUT RULE even though that is where Kid Allergy finds most of his protein while traveling. Save any nut based food for private spaces and be sure to wipe down any surfaces after eating.
Also, as tempting as it sounds, stay away from fruit. The “my kid has an allergy” spiel doesn’t work when you are traveling internationally and accidentally forget you placed that apple or banana in your bag. This has happened to me both in Italy and Aruba. You think you are packing a healthy snack for your allergy child to eat before arrival and then forget about it while trying to wrangle your children and luggage through the chaos of trying to just get on the darn flight. This offense is an automatic “follow me ma’am.” Your passport will not be given back to you as you are walking down a dark scary hallway and you will be flagged as a potential bad person. Trust me, you do not want to jump through these kinds of hoops to get back in the good graces of immigration no matter what country you are trying to enter or exit.
Our gluten free snack go to list for travel:
- Veggie Straws
- Luna Bars (Lemon)
- Pamelas Gluten Free (Honey Graham Cracker, Whenever Bars and Figgies and Jammies)
- Glutino Gluten Free (Toaster Pastries and Pretzels)
- protein packed Quest Bars (Cookies and Cream)
- Lance’s Sandwich Crackers (Cheddar Cheese)
- The Good Bean Chickpea Snacks (Sea Salt)
- Harvest Snaps (Lightly Salted)
2. Do your research before arriving at your destination.
You want your vacation to be an actual break, right? So don’t save combing through the net and social media to find gluten safe dining options while you are vacationing. I know your every day life is hectic with work, cooking a gluten free meal for your family plus laundry for multiple people. Trust me, I get that you just wanna pass out face first the second you get all those small people who depend on you to bed. But, you will thank yourself for just staying up the extra hour a few nights before you leave so you can actually relax while on vacation.
3. Find a grocery store. Any grocery store.
When we first started traveling abroad, I tried to cram everything in my suitcase. My greatest fear was to be stranded in a foreign country with nothing for Kid Allergy that was safe. But, I have learned to bring less and just ask around. Not necessarily “what grocery store carries gluten free items” but rather “what is your largest grocery store chain.” Taxi drivers or Uber/Lyft are great resources for this and if language is a barrier most hotel employees (not just the concierge) speak English and are always eager to point you in the right direction. Remember you are generally not gone for a month. Even though they will tell you differently, your kid can live without his Udi’s gluten free bread for 7 days. Think instead about naturally gluten free foods like yogurt, fruit, nuts and cheese (provided those things are not allergy triggers for your particular family).
4. Prepare your child ahead of time about needing to be open minded and flexible. Stress safety while away from home.
Most children that have had a combative relationship with food, like those with food allergies, have a more narrow meal comfort zone. So, it helps to prepare before you get yourself in a situation where gluten free safe options are limited. If all you feel is safe for your allergy kid is a bunch of dry lettuce, better to remind them about “adventure and safety” rather than convince them the meal options they want in the moment are potentially unsafe. Especially if you have little kids, it is a whole lot easier to have this conversation at home when they are not sleep deprived and overstimulated.
5. Don’t forget medications in carry-on.
On the off chance your child does get exposure to whatever makes them sick, make sure you are prepared. That goes for both prescription (like their Epipen or children’s Nexium) or even anything over the counter like probiotics (we use Culturelle Kids Chewables) that might make them more comfortable through the ordeal. Pharmacies aren’t always easy to come by and luggage can get lost. Make sure you have all medications easily accessible and in your carry-on. We like the SwissGear Laptop Backpack for the easily accessible pockets and durability, as well as, the JanSport Big Student Backpack for the expandability and lightweight yet sturdy material.