Away From Home – part 1

I thought I’d start a mini series on being food restricted away from home. So many times we want to travel.. many of us want to see the world, explore different cultures, or see other parts of our own countries. I still have not seen all parts of Canada, and I’ve only been to about 1/3 of the United States. I’ve only been to one other continent (Europe).

Most of my out of country trips have been pre-celiac diagnosis, and pre-kids for that matter. When we had children, we didn’t stop our travel (at least not before they were 2 and cost more money to fly). Both of my children were on planes at 8 weeks of age. When I was 7 months pregnant and Mr Man was 17 months we took our first road trip down to Boulder, Colorado to see my brother and meet up with my parents. The next summer, we took 5 weeks and drove through the states and back up into Canada to trek out to Ontario for a conference, a wedding, and some family lake time in between (kids were aged 10 months & 2 years). Then I got diagnosed.

Since diagnosis, we’ve been to: Nova Scotia (twice), British Columbia (twice), Portland, Seattle, and Ontario (many times). Here’s what we do. It’s not fool proof I will admit. I’ve been glutened in Portland and Ontario (though that was from food at a funeral).

When we go on our road trips, we always pack a cooler and many bags of food (when we unpack it looks like we’ve just gone to get groceries for the week). We bring vitals that we won’t necessarily be able to get anywhere else. And, if we’re crossing the boarder, we always bring food that you’re allowed to take across (you aren’t allowed to bring many fruits over). We bring: oatmeal, homemade breads like banana bread, bars, snack foods, bagels, Udi’s toast, spices (we save small containers and bring our own spices that we trust). In our next trips, we may pack 1 large and 1 small pot, as well as 1 frying pan and some basic utensils.

In our cooler, we bring meat (we always stay in hotels that have fridges and we refill the cooler with ice to keep meats at optimal temperatures and out of the food danger zone), milks, yogurt (we make our own homemade coconut milk yogurt), etc.

This way, we always have snacks for the road without having to stop at fast food places and worry about what the availability of food or risks of cross contamination are. We will stop at grocery stores in a town and grab some fresh fruits and vegetables, head over to a park, and have a mini picnic. The kids can play and run around, we can get some fresh air and healthy food, and everyone is ready for more driving.

If we’re going on a plane, we always pack multiple containers of food. I trust no food on an airplane. Flight attendants aren’t training in cross contamination and there is too much up in the air (no pun intended) in the food allergy airline world for my liking right now. We buy a drink once we get through security, and then we’re good to go for the whole ride. Depending on the airline, some do still have free snacks, but all of them have wheat and most “may contain” peanuts or tree nuts, so snacks en route are out for us. **Note: You can also now call ahead to most of the airlines to let them know that you have an allergy and they can arrange to have you in an allergy-free section. This is dependent on the airline so please call!**

So now that you’ve travelled to your destination, what do you do when you get there?

* Pay extra for a kitchenette!! The cost of staying in a room with a kitchen is usually about $20-40 more a night than without. Compare this against what you would be spending on food in restaurants and you’re really saving money. Cook the food you brought. Stop at a grocery store and buy fresh ingredients. Cut them up with that knife and small cutting board you threw into your grocery bags and fry them up in a very well cleaned pan or one you brought. Healthier eating and safer.

* But I want to eat out! Check some of the gluten free references out there. There are gluten free apps that allow you to search for restaurants in a city. Post a message on twitter! (We did this when we went to Seattle this summer and it was super helpful!) Do your research before you leave your house! When we went to Portland and Seattle this summer, I had a list of places in each city that I wanted to go to. I didn’t get to all of them, but it was really helpful!

* Ask at the front desk. Many hotels are equipped to answer your questions about where to go and what to eat. They can be more informative and helpful that you’d expect!

* Call restaurants ahead of time. Just like you would at home, don’t go in blind.

Ultimately, don’t be afraid to travel. The world is pretty amazing and should be seen. When you have food restrictions it can involve more planning, but it’s just as worth it.


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