I just got back from an amazing family road trip. We flew to Alberta and then drove from Medicine Hat to Vancouver Island and back. It was just a phenomenal trip. The scenery and experiences were truly spectacular and we all had SUCH a great time. What wasn’t always easy was figuring out how to feed my kids nutritious meals on the road. Here are FIVE tips that make travelling with food allergies a little easier for my family:
1 – BYOB or Bring Your Own Breakfast – One of my children has an egg allergy which makes breakfast officially the hardest meal of the day to get through on the road. Even worse are early morning flights where there are no safe options for us. This sounds kind of crazy, but I just pack a box of cereal, 4 plastic solo cups, 4 plastic spoons and some napkins. Once we get through security to the departure lounge, I pick up some milk from Tim Horton’s and serve everyone breakfast. This works just as easily in a hotel room – I can buy some milk and put it in the fridge, or we can eat in the car and pick up milk when we drive through for coffee. Worst case – we eat the cereal dry…I haven’t had a complaint yet.
2 – SNACKS!! – I pack a lot of snacks. I bring snacks with me on the plane, and in the car. I load up on things that don’t need refrigeration and that keep their shape even when squished. For my family that means granola bars and pudding and crackers. A bag of Goldfish crackers is always a good choice as we can have just a few or a big handful and it can keep us happy for a while.
3 – Grocery stores – Often while we are on a road trip, we find ourselves in a small town around meal time. This usually leaves us with very few options for lunch. On our most recent trip we ended up at Lake Louise, which although beautiful only has two bakeries on site. Neither bakery had an egg-free or nut-free option, so we were kind of in a dilemma. I did a little exploring and there was a little grocery store too. I was able to find bagels, cheese, pudding and bananas and we found a picnic table and had an outdoor feast. It was fabulous, healthy and low-cost! Grocery stores have often saved the day, and is one of the first things I look for when travelling.
4 – Subway – Sometimes while travelling, we just want a quick lunch while trying to get to the next destination. I hate stopping for fast food and have found that Subway is very good at providing safe and nutritious options for the kids. The make-your-own sandwich set up allows us to pick and choose the ingredients and we always ask them to use clean gloves and knives. They will even go get fresh ingredients from the back of the store if we are concerned about cross-contamination. It’s a great quick stop, and the whole family loves it.
5 – Plan ahead – I always try to plan for the next day’s food the night before. If I know we will be driving a lot that day I will make sure to be stocked up on lots of snacks. When we will be flying, I bring sandwiches and fruit as there is nowhere to get any food for the kids. I look for corner stores to stock up on items at the end of the day so I don’t need to waste time when the kids are hungry. There is nothing worse than being caught with a hungry kid and nowhere to get any snacks.
I find that by using these tips we manage to travel quite well together as a family. More places are becoming allergy-aware and are happy to make the effort to find some safe options for meals. Last but not least, I never ever pass up a safe treat option. It is rare that we find something sweet and fun that everyone can eat, so it doesn’t matter what time it is, we are stopping to indulge!