Tips for Traveling with Food Allergies
Vacation is a time to get away, relax and have fun. But for families with food allergies, vacations can also be stressful, as finding restaurants that offer allergen-free meals is challenging.
With a little planning and some advance preparation, you can enjoy your vacation and eat allergen-free. Here are some tips to make your vacation as stress-free as possible:
- Try to stay in a place with a kitchen. You can bring essential food items with you and prepare meals as needed. While cooking on vacation may not be ideal, it beats the anxiety of not being able to find appropriate restaurants.
- Use the internet to locate the nearest grocery store, specialty food store, and any restaurants that might work. Call or email the specialty food store to make sure they carry the food items you might need.
- Pack food for the trip. Gas station convenience stores don’t carry much beyond snack foods, and most airlines don’t offer meals.
- We tend to eat our breakfasts at our vacation rental, pack lunches for the day to bring with us, and then eat out for dinner if possible. The nice thing about packing a lunch is that you can stay out all day and eat when you need to without having to find a restaurant.
- Don’t forget to buy or pack some of your favorite treats. If you or someone in your family can’t have ice cream, cookies, or other treats available in popular tourist spots because of food allergies, make sure you have something available that is safe.
- Our experience so far is that higher quality (and sometimes more expensive) restaurants tend to be able to accommodate food allergies better. These restaurants cook with fresh ingredients from scratch, and the chef can answer questions about ingredients and preparation.
- However, some chain restaurants are excellent and come in handy. We’ve eaten as several restaurants with gluten-free menus that also happen to have locations in several states (see list below).
- Don’t forget to pack any medications you might need in case an accidental exposure occurs, and keep them with you at all times.
Here are some stores and restaurants that have come in handy for us while traveling:
- Trader Joe’s (several locations) has a variety of gluten-free items as well as basic grocery items at reasonable prices. You can’t beat their wine prices either!
- Whole Foods (several locations) is pricier than Trader Joe’s but also has several gluten-free products and other specialty foods.
- Wendy’s has an allergen list for their menu, and they have locations in almost every small town across the US. Very handy when you’re on the road!
- P.F. Chang’s, Bonefish Grill, Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, and Pei Wei Asian Diner all have gluten-free menus and multiple locations across the US.
These are the tips I can think of. Please write to me and let me know of any tips you might have. Happy travels!