Traveling with a child who has celiac disease can get very tricky, take lots of planning ahead, and extra packing but it is very possible. Having the autoimmune disease celiac, means gluten cannot be consumed. If gluten is consumed damage to the small intestine occurs and if continued it will result in the inability to absorb nutrients. Having your child on a strict gluten free diet is very serious and important to their health, whether your at home or on the road.
Most children are always hungry, a very important staple for traveling with a child who has celiac disease is taking lots of gluten free snacks. It is also a great idea to take a wide variety so your child does not get bored eating the same food the whole trip. Gluten free snacks may also be very hard to come by on the road. While gas stations may have some items that are safe to eat they do not have nearly the variety of a grocery store or specialty store. It is also best to take approximately a weeks worth of extra snacks just in case your trip is longer than anticipated. The best storage for longer freshness of foods is in a zip-lock bag or in a plastic or glass container.
Packing easy lunch items is a great option for a road trip. For example in a cooler take gluten free bread, lunch meat, cheese, peanut butter, and jelly. Those are filling and easy to make sandwiches while traveling. Another great tip is to take gluten free condiments with you such as ketchup or mayonnaise. The small prepackaged ones are the easiest to take and do not need to be kept cool.
If you are going to be staying with family members part of your trip it is best to advice them of the foods your child can consume beforehand. It may help ease the shock when you arrive and your child cannot have most of the foods in their home. While you are there it is also very important that no cross contamination occurs with your child’s food. You may be on vacation but you must still always be on high alert when it comes to the gluten free diet and new surroundings.
Before heading out on your road trip go to each common fast food establishments web site and review the allergy information and make a list of safe gluten free items your child may have. When you arrive at the establishment before you order ensure those items are still gluten free. If you find a local hamburger place you would like to try, you can take your own hamburger buns and ask if the patty and fries are gluten free, if so enjoy.
Make a list of the large chain restaurants that will be in your vacation area that offer a gluten free menu. This will make deciding where to eat much easier. You can also research the area you will be visiting because many cities and towns now offer specialty gluten free restaurants. Calling local restaurants may also be helpful in finding new places to eat that offer a gluten free menu.
If you are staying in a hotel call the head chef ahead of time and ask if they can prepare gluten free pasta and sauce you brought with you. Many hotels are pleased to help in any way they can. If the head chef is not familiar cooking allergy safe food, you may want to give them some of the base rules such as using a new pot and water for the pasta and sauce and about the cross contamination that may occur if a spoon that was used to stir regular pasta is used to stir gluten free pasta. The best time to call and request special meals is usually before or after the busy lunch and dinner hours.
Traveling with a child with celiac disease may seem like a lot of work, but it can also be extremely fun and enjoyable. Sharing new experiences and seeing new places with your child is incomparable. All of the planning and hard work that go into planning a gluten free trip is well worth all of the precious memories that are made.