Once football season rolls around the boys and I spend a lot of weekends traveling. One of the biggest challenges I have consistently dealt with is what to feed my kids with dairy allergies and not spend the week recovering from the weekend.
This can be especially challenging on trips where we’ve ridden along on the team bus, or traveled to a tiny town with limited options. Add in my gluten sensitivity and our options become minimal and expensive. Whether you are traveling to see family, headed on vacation, or going to cheer on your favorite sports team, feeding kids who have food allergies well WHILE keeping the restrictions in place can be a challenge.
Here are my favorite strategies for traveling with food allergies:
Plan Your Stops:
Google Maps is constantly updating its information and in many places, you can get a list of restaurants and websites. Although this is helpful, it can be expensive. I have found that getting an idea of the grocery stores that will be accessible can be an easier way to find meals and snacks that are familiar and allergy safe.
If nothing else you can get fresh fruit and bottled water at lower prices in a grocery store than at a typical gas station.
Buy Along the Way or Ship It:
We lived in a tiny town for several years which didn’t offer many options. But, we had to drive through cities to get to several of our games. Stopping along the way allowed us to build in a travel break and pick up our snacks for the weekend at the same time. I would often let the kids choose something special that they weren’t going to get at the grocery store down the street. Favorites included freeze-dried fruit, organic apple sauce pouches, chocolate almond milk, and popcorn.
Another version of this strategy is to ship things ahead of time to have upon arrival. This isn’t likely to be helpful for an overnight trip, but if you are going to be gone for a while (like to a football camp or coaching clinic) this can be especially helpful when you are flying. We’ve shipped protein powder and protein bars ahead of time on vacations and mapped out routes to pass a Trader Joe’s en route to our destination.
Things I’ve Shipped:
- Vegan Protein Powder
- Protein bars
- Almond Milk in individual servings
- Apple Sauce Pouches (they were much cheaper)
- Gluten-Free granola bars
Amazon acquired Whole Foods and I think shipping healthy foods is about to get even easier.
Keep it Simple:
I know we can all get a little mom guilt when our kids aren’t eating well-balanced meals (or at least staring at the well-balanced meals we have placed in front of them) but a weekend of traveling isn’t the time to stress about the fact your kid has only eaten apples for two days when offered fruit. Apples are great and other fruit choices will be available when you arrive home.
Make it Special:
This may feel like a contradiction to the tip above, but it’s actually along the same lines. If your kid has a favorite food item they don’t get to eat all that often due to expense or availability, travel weekends are the perfect times to bring them out. It’s likely your child is used to everyone around them eating something they can’t eat, but it doesn’t make it fun for them. A special treat can smooth over a hard situation especially when a missed nap is also a strong possibility.
- Having a list of foods that you know your child can have will help you make quick decisions at rest stops.
- Keep a cooler in the trunk with foods for the weekend. Pull out only what you need for that meal or snack to help ration things.
When it comes to food allergies having a few careless meals can ruin the week to come. Taking the time to prep will allow you to enjoy the weekend and the days that follow. This is especially important when road trips are frequent.