Vacation planning takes on a whole new meaning when you’re traveling with a child with celiac disease or another severe food allergy. Packing clothes, toys, gf sunscreen, gf shampoos, etc is only the beginning. Here are some tips to make traveling more enjoyable for your family. These tips focus on traveling to hotels or resorts, but can be used for visiting family as well. For family trips, you’ll still need to bring the kitchen supplies unless your family member wants to purchase a set of new pots/pans etc to keep gluten free in their house.
1. Get a hotel room with a kitchen. Cooking your own food in your own pots/pans is the safest way to go because you can eliminate cross contamination and know exactly what your child is eating. Make sure you pack:
- A sponge and gluten free dish soap to clean the kitchen countertops and dining table thoroughly when you arrive
- One pot, pan, cookie sheet, cutting board, spatula, wooden spoon, slotted spoon (to be used as a spoon or act as a pasta strainer), and a whisk if you plan to bake
- Gluten free dish soap and sponge
- Dish towel for drying
- Paper plates, plastic cutlery
- Dried goods, snacks. You may be able to find a grocery store with options, but you never know so always make sure you at least have your child’s favorite snacks and a favorite pasta, pancake or other dry mix.
2. Investigate the local area for gluten free dining options. We love the FindMeGlutenFree app. It lists restaurants by location, and you can add filters like “celiac friendly” to narrow your search. From there, you can see what percentage of restaurant visitors found the restaurant to be celiac friendly. I always read the reviews, and if I don’t see 100% rated celiac friendly with a minimum of 5 visitors, I skip it. Better safe, than sorry. I also don’t limit my investigation there. Once I find a restaurant that sounds safe and yummy, I call the restaurant to inquire about cross contamination in their kitchen, if there’s a separate prep area for gluten free foods, etc. before deciding to make a reservation.
3. Call the hotel to find out how allergy and celiac friendly they can be. Explain why you’re calling and ask to speak with their executive chef or whomever the appropriate person is. Questions to ask:
- Have they had guests stay with them that have celiac disease?
- What kind of dining accommodations are available?
- What kind of measures can be taken to prevent cross contamination in their kitchens?
- Do they have gluten free breads, muffins, etc. and if so, how are they stored and prepared separately from other foods that contain gluten?
- If they say there are safe options, is there a specific person that they should speak to in each restaurant prior to arriving to make sure they are prepared?
The more planning and packing that you can do ahead of time, the more enjoyable your vacation will be. The lead up to family vacations can be stressful, especially with the extra things that parents with children that have celiac disease or other food allergies need to do. But, if you follow the list above you will be prepared and able to relax more and have FUN with your family. Happy Travels!