If your child has celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity, travel to a new place can present some challenges. Stopping for meals or snacks on road trips, shopping in unfamiliar grocery stores and eating out in a strange city all mean that the chances of gluten cross-contamination can increase. Proper planning, including making a phone call or two ahead of time and making your own gluten-free snacks, can drastically reduce that risk, allowing you and your children some greater peace of mind while on vacation.
Lodging: Ideally, your gluten-free travel, lodging and eating arrangements will be made beforehand. When making hotel reservations, for example, specify that your child requires a gluten-free diet and ask about their gluten-free options (if they have them) for breakfast. Hotel rooms that include a mini-fridge allow you to store your own gluten-free food and are highly recommended. You can find some gluten-free hotels ahead of time by consulting the Gluten Free Hotels Guide.
Eating out: Finding a gluten-free eating establishment in a new city, state or country can seem daunting at first, but there are many handy tools available. Try the Find Me Gluten Free, a handy and free app for your mobile device, or the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) that includes a website with gluten-free restaurant list that feature staff who have been trained to avoid cross-contamination.
Before you leave for your trip, it is also worthwhile to print out a gluten-free dining card to hand out at events, airplanes, restaurants and hotels.
On the Road
Restaurants and convenience stores that provide gluten-free options for your child are unfortunately few and far-between while out on the road, so it’s important to pack plenty of gluten-free snacks and even meal options. Some kid-friendly gluten-free travel snacks include:
- A favorite gluten-free bread
- Peanut, sunflower or almond butter
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Gluten-free cookies (for times when gluten-free desserts aren’t available)
- Gluten-free crackers
- Gluten-free granola bars
Sweet Roasted Chickpeas
- 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. agave nectar
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Gently toss chickpeas in a bowl with oil, agave nectar and vinegar. Sprinkle with cinnamon and chili powder.
- Place into the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
- Transfer to a serving bowl; sprinkle with fresh basil and enjoy!
Grain-Free Flax Cranberry Granola
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/3 cup stevia
- 2 cups salted peanuts, chopped
- 3/4 cup flax seeds
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/6 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/6 tsp. cocoa powder
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare a sheet tray with parchment paper; set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat oil, honey and stevia over low heat until incorporated.
- Transfer to bowl and mix in 2 cups peanuts and flax seeds, cinnamon, ginger and cocoa powder.
- Transfer to sheet tray and bake; mixing every 20 minutes for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven; set aside to cool. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; toss with cranberries.
- Store in a sealed container in the fridge.
- Enjoy atop yogurt, salads, mixed into hummus or just eaten alone as an on-the-go snack
Whether you and your family are planning a vacation to Disney World, grandma’s house or a foreign country, traveling gluten free with kids can feel like much less of a hassle and a cause of worry with some extra preparations and perhaps a homemade snack or two.