You Can Travel with Celiac and Food Allergies- Part 2
Last week we wrote a post on how to prepare to go on vacation with food allergies and celiac. Today we will dive into eating on vacation to stay safe and healthy. Keep in mind, you must deicide on your comfort level and whether you are ok with people in shared space eating your allergens (or not). As we talked about in Part 1, we were comfortable staying with my in-laws in a shared kitchen. We would not be comfortable sharing a kitchen with everyone though.
Meals and Shopping
We talked about in Part 1 that we have a shared Google Sheet with my Mother-in-law that has foods we love and the specific brands. If you are traveling on your own, we highly suggest making your own google sheet to keep track of your favorite travel foods, utensils needed, and miscellaneous items like sponges, napkins, wipes etc. This allows grocery shopping and packing to be supers. It also allows you to have a column to check items off to be sure you don’t forget anything.
On our google sheet, we also have full meals written and all of the ingredients required. Having meals planned ahead of time makes life so much easier. Being organized is always the best way to live with food restrictions. Having the same meals on every vacation, or a derivative of the same meal, brings comfort, safety, ease, and predictability.
When we arrived at my in-laws house this was the first thing we saw. I mean, come on, how amazing is this?!
Safety While Sharing Kitchen Space
The counter that this brand new gluten free only toaster sat on became our safe counter that only had our utensils, cooking items, and foods. This counter remained gluten free the whole time we were staying with my in-laws. We cleaned it before we put our gluten free items there just to be sure it was thoroughly clean. This counter is where we toasted breads, cut our fruits, veggies, meats, made sandwiches, etc. My mother-in-law also purchased a new food processor for us to use. There were a few extra items that we needed to eat and remain healthy while we were there so we went and purchased an electric skillet, spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, cutting boards, sponges, and a muffin pan since I was going to be making cupcakes for my husbands birthday. Those are all items that we felt we couldn’t share with my in-laws because they either can’t go through the dishwasher or are stored where crumbs likely hang out. Items that could be dish washed we felt safe to use what my in-laws had. If you are new to following us, we use an electric skillet everywhere we travel. It is my staple for easy and safe cooking. I have flown one across the country with us. LOL! Since we ended up purchasing so many items, we also bought a big plastic tub to keep it all in for our next trip. This way we won’t have to purchase all of the big items the next time we go to visit and we know they will remain safe from any gluten contamination being in a big bin with a lid. Thankfully my in-laws have enough room to easily store this bin. When we travel and don't stay with my in-laws, the electric skillet is my one kitchen appliance that I always use.
Our youngest, who has celiac, is very sensitive to cross contact and gets sick very easily. Let me explain to you why we felt comfortable enough to stay with my in-laws even though my father-in-law would still be eating gluten while we were there. My mother-in-law made sandwiches on a separate counter than the one we used, she kept gluten bread separate from our food, and we would clean our eating space. Most nights I made dinners which were all gluten free so that we could all eat meals together. This greatly reduced the chance of cross contact as well. There are plenty of naturally gluten free dinner items that everyone can enjoy together (meat, veggies, rice, potatoes, etc.). Other than that we would eat at restaurants that we could safely eat at. We always use the Allergy Eats and Find Me Gluten Free apps to find safe dining options. They are both free and a great help!
Quick and Easy Meal Ideas
Like I said above, we take an electric skillet everywhere we travel. It is one of my most used kitchen items, I highly suggest getting one if you plan to do any sort of traveling. We went on a three day road trip while we were in Phoenix to northern Arizona. When we head out on road trips we try to keep food simple, easy/not messy, and also nutritious. Eating on the road doesn’t have to mean eating junk. The electric skillet makes breakfast, lunches (toasts bread), and dinners (fry’s, boils, bakes) very well for us. Who doesn’t love a one pan meal?! I was asked recently what foods we typically take on road trips so I thought I’d share it here as well.
- Does your family like to eat oatmeal? Oatmeal is such a simple and nutritious breakfast so my family eats a lot of it. If you have celiac disease though you must eat gluten free oats. Quaker Gluten Free Oatmeal Packets are fantastic! We took these on our road trip through northern Arizona and fell in love with them. They have a plastic lining in the packets and a fill line for water (or milk of choice). Then you just place it all in a thick paper bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Every hotel room these days has a microwave so these were amazing for us. I will purchase these for all of our road trips now!
- Eggs (if you can, of course)
– Pre made pancakes
- Safe Granola
– sandwiches: I typically use left over meat from dinner the night before to save space and money
– fresh fruit that won’t mush easily (apples, oranges, blueberries in a container, pears, etc)
– fresh cut veggies (carrot sticks, celery, etc)
– chips because we are normal and do eat some junk 😉
Dinner: I want dinner to be quick, simple, and nutritious that can be made in one pan at the same time. Here are the simple meals I typically make on the road.
– Meat of some sort (chicken, ground beef, hot dogs)
– fresh veggies (broccoli, onions, carrots, squashes)
– rice or potatoes diced
- meat and DF cheese
– squeeze apple sauce
– fresh fruit
– cut up fresh veggies with hummus or ranch
– fruit leather
– granola bars
For us, travel is such an important part of our lives that we make it a priority. As you can see, it takes extra work and diligence to keep our family safe, but it is very doable. I know that not all people have an amazing Mother-in-law like I do. Traveling is still possible and worthwhile. I will post on how we lived in Africa with food allergies, how we go camping with food allergies, and how we road trip. They are all possible with some planning ahead. We want all of our kids to know, and now especially our youngest, that they can travel wherever they want to go. If you ever have questions, please feel free to ask! It brings us great joy to see and help people with food allergies and celiac step out and learn to travel. For those of you that have family that isn’t supportive, I know that all too well also. Please reach out, I’m happy to share the tough situations we’ve had to deal with as well. I hope that these posts have given you hope that you can indeed travel safely and some tips on how to do it safely.