Tips on Traveling on Day Trips with Gluten-Free Kids
I cried the day I found out that my children were gluten-intolerant like their father. I grieved for the childhood I perceived they’d be missing out on – chasing the ice cream man for a cone, pizza at sleepovers with girlfriends, beer with the guys as my son grew into a man. I saw all the things they couldn’t have and I was sad for them. And, selfishly, I was a little sad for me. My entire life was about to change and it was a lot to take in.
But since I had already eliminated grains for my own personal health and Mike was already GF because of his Celiac, we got the hang of it pretty quickly with the kids. Today, I no longer grieve for the life they won’t have but instead am so proud of the healthy life they WILL have. However, some of the hardest things we’ve encountered as a family has been the “on-the-go” options of taking day trips with the kids. Gone are the days we could just grab some diapers and a change of clothes and head out of town for the day on adventures, figuring we’d stop off somewhere and eat or just grab something quick while out. Now our world is a little more planned out but not impossible.
So when Diane from The W.H.O.L.E. Gang asked me if I’d like to be part of an amazing group of gluten-free bloggers to share tips and tricks for 30 Days to Easy Gluten-free Living, I was definitely on board. I know there’s a lot of parents out there who have newly diagnosed children or even just parents who are looking for healthier ways to feed their kids on the go. So I’m going to give you my Tips on Traveling on Day Trips with GF Kids.
1) Buy a large lunchbox or a mini cooler. Especially this time of year, they’re all on sale and can be really affordable at Target, Walmart, etc. We use one with a solid/plastic inner liner. For one thing, it keeps the stuff cooler longer. For another, it can’t get crushed under a toddler tushie, like this one:
2) If you know you’re going on a day trip on the weekend, run to the store Friday. This way you know you’ll have plenty of options and not be running out right before you need to leave. You can also use the day before to make some homemade snacks to pack like homemade lara bars, grain-free cheeze-its, pepita parmesan crackers, or power balls.
3) Know your kids or ask them what they’d like to eat that day. Packing a whole cooler full of food they won’t eat isn’t going to help the Hungry Toddler About to Have A Canary Because He Is Starving But Doesn’t Want Hummus FOR THE LOVE.
4) Get them involved in the morning picking out what they’d want to eat. Let them help you peel the apples or put the cream cheese on the celery.
5) Fast and convenient doesn’t have to be packaged/processed food. If you’re really strapped for time, buy the apple slices or the already-chopped melon. Sure it will cost you more money but if you’re committed to a whole foods approach, it should be worth the extra cash. Most supermarkets will have pre-cut/pre-sliced veggies and fruit in the produce section. Grab some pre-cut celery and swing over and grab a small tub of natural peanut butter and you have a quick snack!
6) Build in an extra 30 minutes. If you want to leave at 10 am, set your time to be ready to leave at 9:30. Chances are you are going to forget something or be rushed, and having this padding helps the momma from losing her ever-loving mind before she even gets in the car.
7) Keep your car stocked. Often, we end up staying longer at places than we anticipated. Be it a friend’s barbecue, stuck in traffic, at a show or museum and the lunch and snacks we packed are long gone. This is when the stocked car helps. In both of our consoles, we have a few of these stocked away:
as well as some juice boxes. Is it ideal? No. But we’re human and when you’re stuck in a two-hour traffic jam, you do what you gotta do. You can also keep your car stocked with nuts, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, etc. I don’t recommend keeping bottled water in a car due to the leaching of chemicals the plastic into the water in the heat (but that’s just me).
8) Know what “quick” items you CAN grab. Educate yourself and know what things you would be able to purchase in a convenience store if you had to. Beef Jerky? No. It often is made with soy sauce/teryaki which contains wheat. Mixed nuts? Check for malt or caramel flavoring. These days, most convenience stores carry lots of nuts, trail mixes, cheese sticks, etc. Just always read ingredients. And if you’re ever really stuck, plain Potato Chips (when the ingredients are just potatoes, salt, and oil) may not be the healthiest choice but they are GF safe and will almost always quiet a hungry kid.
9) If you know what city you’re going to and want to eat out, check out the GlutenFree Registry. It has over 19,600 restaurants logged in for cities all over the country. You should be able to locate something in or near the area you’re going to. Call ahead the week before to talk to staff, make reservations, etc. You can also turn to Twitter or Facebook and ask if anyone from or near that city has any good recommendations for gluten-free dining with kids. Use the hashtags #glutenfree, #gf, or #celiac and you’d be surprised how many helpful people there are in the community.
10) Ease up if you can. If you’re like me and feed your kids a natural whole-foods diet 95% of the time, than packing a bag of Glutino pretzels for a road trip does not make you Mommy Dearest (WIRE HANGERS!). Unless your child has other food or dye sensitivities, use the day trips as a “fun” day and let them pick one treat they normally wouldn’t have. You want them (and you!) to have fun on these trips, not worry about everything. Kids are kids. Vanilla ice cream for dinner never hurt anyone (assuming they’re not dairy-free!)
Here are the rest of the amazing contributions from this month. I hope you get the time to check them out: I know many of these women personally and their tips and tricks are truly from the best.
Friday May 6th Elana from Elana’s Pantry sharing Quick and Easy Gluten Free Cherry Vanilla Power Bars
Sunday May 8th Megan from Food Sensitivity Journal sharing Gluten Free Baking Undone: Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Thursday May 12th Kim from Cook It Allergy Free sharing Eating from your Garden for Easy Gluten-Free Living
Saturday May 14th Brittany from Real Sustenance sharing Healthy Allergy-Free Quick Bread with easy flavor variations.
Friday May 20th Silvana from Silvana’s Kitchen sharing Everything I’ve Learned So Far about Gluten-Free plus my Dairy-Free Nutella Knockoff recipe!
Saturday May 21st Maggie from She Let Them Eat Cake sharing Easy Gluten-Free Living With Preschoolers and a Vanilla Cupcake recipe!
Sunday May 22nd Sea from Book of Yum sharing Easy Gluten Free Vegetarian Soy Free Breakfast Burritos
Saturday May 28th Zoe from Z’s Cup of Tea sharing
Sunday May 29th Kelly from The Spunky Coconut sharing Buying in bulk to save money, Cooking in bulk to save time.
Monday May 30th Jess from ATX Gluten-Free sharing 1 Meal 3 Ways, Jazzing up Leftovers
Tuesday May 31st Naomi from Straight into Bed, Cakefree and Dried sharing how to prepare grains so they are more nutritious & digestible and create fluffier wholegrain baked goods!