We are heading out for a family vacation in the next few days, which is of course super exciting. However, it is also quite a daunting task too. Almost everyone in our family has some sort of food allergy, diet restriction or food intolerance. Typically eating out is something we do very sparingly and only to tried and true places. When on vacation, eating at home is of course just not an option. So how does one make vacations and food allergies mix? Here are a few tips we can offer…
Rent The Right Hotel Room
The right hotel room can make all the difference when you are vacationing with food allergies. Make sure to rent a room that has the right equipment. At the very least, you will need a mini fridge and a microwave, and at best, a kitchenette. We typically go for the kitchenette.
Yes, these hotel rooms are more expensive, but trust me, you will get your money’s worth when you factor in the meal savings. Food allergies are expensive, but eating out with food allergies can be even more expensive. Add the risks of accidental contamination, and its just not worth it for us.
We typically spring for the more expensive room with the kitchenette, as it tends to save us a lot of money and hassles in the long run. We go on vacation to relax, right? Well if eating in is too difficult, we will inevitably choose to go out.
Believe me, we have done our share of cooking out of a mini fridge and microwave. In fact, we are probably experts. My kids even think I should write a hotel room cookbook. But, cooking in such a small kitchen is not very fun. Having a nearly full kitchen with lots of cooking tools is so much better. And, eating in is always cheaper than eating out. Then I know what I am feeding my family is truly safe.
Bring Your Own Food
One of the best ways to ensure that you will have something safe to eat while on vacation, is to bring it with you. Now I do realize just how difficult this task can be. How will you keep the food from spoiling? Well, you probably won’t unless it’s a road trip, so the only option is to bring the nonperishable foods.
You would be surprised how many meals you can make with nonperishable food. One our favorite lunch items is a pita pocket sandwich. To make this, simply add a packet of chicken (lemon pepper is our choice) to a pita pocket. Then add a packet of your favorite sauce, and you have a simple sandwich. All the ingredients are easy to pack and don’t need to be kept cool. If you can bring perishable items, adding lettuce and tomato make this recipe even better.
Shop When You Get There
There will be items that you can’t bring. Maybe you don’t have room, or maybe they will spoil on the way. For these items, you can shop local. Some hotels, especially the ones with kitchenettes, will grocery shop for you. Quite often, they don’t even charge for this service. Simply give them a grocery list, and the items will be in your room later that day or the next.
If this is not a service of your hotel, typically there is a grocery store nearby. If you don’t have a car, a quick Uber or Lyft ride will get you their. Before we leave, I scout out the best options. If there is an Aldi nearby, this is my top choice, as their gluten-free section is pretty good. It is easy to ask Google to search for grocery stores within a certain radius of your hotel. Then you can get an idea of which one is best for your family’s needs.
Have A Game Plan
One of the ways that our family makes having food allergies and diet restrictions much easier is to meal plan. While you may already be doing this at your house, most of us don’t menu plan for vacations. Just like your food allergies aren’t going away on vacation, menu planning shouldn’t either.
Menu planning will ensure that you have everything you will need to make allergy-friendly meals while you are away. It will tell you what you need to bring versus what you will purchase when you arrive. Menu planning will also help you decide which meals are appropriate for eating out.
When you book your trip, begin looking at local restaurants to see if their menu will fit your family’s needs and budget. You may even want to ask for restaurant suggestions from food allergy Facebook groups. This way you won’t be stuck wondering where to go or how much your meal will be.
Allergy Friendly Vacation Destinations
Disney destinations are our favorite places to vacation, as Disney has a team dedicated to helping those with allergies find appropriate meals. At some of their dining options, they will actually modify your meal to meet your family’s requirements. While these vacations can be a bit pricey, your vacation will have an additional element of peace knowing your entire family can find great tasting food options.