Traveling is so hard when you have food allergies. My best friend from childhood got married in New York City about five months after I was diagnosed with food allergies, and I didn’t want to be a burden to people, so I didn’t really tell folks about my allergies and food regulations. I prepared my own snacks in advance (granola, salad, fruit, etc.) thinking that I could find food somewhere and on my own time. But my pre-prepared food was the only food I lived on that weekend! By the time I got on the plane to fly back to L.A., I was SO mean because I was SO hungry.
After that trip, I realized that there is a lot of preparation that goes into traveling with food allergies. Those who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease have a lot more options nowadays. Whole Foods and other specialty grocery stores have an entire section for gluten-free items. Also, food labels are starting to state if they are gluten-free or not. So, if you are traveling to a major city, then you are in luck because most likely there will be a specialty grocery store within your vicinity.
However, let’s say you are traveling to a smaller town, someplace rural. What are you to do? There is some prep work that needs to happen.
Figure out what snacks you like to eat, or some of your favorite foods that don’t need to be heated or refrigerated. Spend the days prior to your departure making them, or picking them up at the store.
Here are the five things I know to do next time:
- I love granola. It only takes me about 10 min. to prep, and then I bake it for 40-50 min. It is an easy, go to recipe that I can take with me on planes or when I travel. I can get some organic fruit wherever I end up and add that to my granola.
- Containers are your best friend. Invest in reusable containers; ones that you like and that are easy to wash. The airport doesn’t restrict the size of solid foods, as long as they can fit into your luggage.
- Bring things that will help you survive: EPIpen, Claritin, your nose spray, etc. For me, I bring my nose spray, neti pot, and heating pad. In case I do have an attack on the “road” I want to be prepared for dealing with it.
- Research restaurants beforehand. If you know your final destination, go ahead and look up some allergy-sensitive restaurants. Most restaurants will put their menu on their website. They also list their phone number, so go ahead and call them prior to your trip. This way, you can make sure that you get fed and not have to feel like you are holding up your trip with this hard decision.
- Find out if there is a Farmer’s Market while you are visiting. If you are traveling by car, see if there is one on the way to your destination.
The road can be a wonderful place, but also a scary one. Take some time to prepare, research and remember to enjoy your trip and getting to know new places. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!