Monday, July 16

Traveling with food allergies: What I packed on our beach trip

We’ve traveled to the beach for vacation (and to visit family who lives there) every summer for as long as I can remember. It’s part of our family tradition and one that I continue now with my own family. 
Traveling has of course become more difficult with a toddler, but it’s also especially difficult since we have to take special care to think about how/what we’re going eat when we’re away from home. 

On this beach trip, I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable ordering safe food for my 2 year old son at any of the usual restaurants we visit since most are staffed by young high school or college students on summer break.  It’s also always so busy at these restaurants due to all the other people on vacation – not a great time to communicate about food allergies or even expect the kitchen staff to keep it straight.

I considered eating at our hotel restaurant, but after eating there on the first day with my aunt and uncle while my son was napping, I decided to stay away!  They proved they were disorganized and couldn’t follow an easy order with my simple lunch (soup and salad), and also got a few things wrong with my aunt and uncle’s order.  They seemed very disorganized and unmanaged in general, so felt like I couldn’t trust them with even more important food allergy directions.

The only restaurant we visited that I felt like I could trust was the Sunset Grille.  Since I didn’t call ahead of time or view the menu online, I already brought food for my son.  However, I felt comfortable ordering a simple veggie for him to munch on – asparagus.  

Thankfully we reserved a room that had a “full” kitchen (full size fridge, sink and stove).  It would have been difficult to feed him well for 4 days with only a mini-fridge and microwave in a traditional hotel room.  I didn't take food photos as things were already busy enough, but I did take photos of the inside of our fridge and cabinet so I'd remember what we brought. These are definitely boring photos, but maybe someone will find them useful!!

Also, here’s an overview of what my son ate for 4 days on our beach vacation:

We ate 4 days of vacation breakfasts in our room – which is usually what I like to do anyway since 3 meals a day at restaurants is too much food for me!  Our room was oceanside, so we had a great view for breakfast!  My husband ordered a bagel sandwich-to-go a few times at the restaurant in our hotel, but my son and I just stuck with our own food for breakfast.  Here are some of the things he/we ate:
  • Gluten-free oatmeal with fruit
  • Sunbutter on toast
  • Soy yogurt mixed with Enjoy Life Flax cereal or fruit
  • Oat muffins
  • Cereal: Mix of Enjoy Life Flax cereal, Kix and fruit
Notice most of these snacks could be used as breakfast options, and/or supplements to meals – or meals themselves.  I always tried to bring many options with me wherever we went for variety and also due to a toddler’s finicky taste buds – one day he likes something and the next he rejects it!
  • Boxed ricemilk (great for transporting since you don’t have to worry about keep it cold)
  • Juice boxes
  • Water
We tried to keep lunches fairly easy since we wanted to stay on the beach as long as possible, and we also wanted to try to stick with my son’s usual 12pm naptime.  My husband and I usually just ate snacks (fruit and granola bars) on the beach for lunch, and I brought sandwiches and snacks for my son’s lunch.
We brought most of the food since I knew we wouldn’t be able to find all of the food at a local grocery store.  I didn’t want to transport ground meat or frozen veggies in a cooler for a 3 hour drive, so we went food shopping on the first full day we were there.  I bought ground turkey and a bag of frozen broccoli.  I also bought a bag of Tostitos as an impulse buy (we all love them!), and it’s a fun snack my son can have and enjoys.  Works well on a hot beach also! 

I cooked the ground turkey in Italian seasoning in one big batch, and then just used it throughout our 3 other days there in various ways.  I bought this handy thermos which worked out very well to transport the food to restaurants. 
  • Ground turkey, tomatoes and italian seasoning, broccoli and quinoa pasta
  • Ground turkey, sweet potato and broccoli
  • *I brought all the ingredients to make a quesadilla, but we didn’t get a chance to make it
Although the trip was a lot of work in some ways, we still had a great time overall.  My son loved making sandcastles, playing in the sand, and swimming in the pool (the waves were a little too rough for him to enjoy them).  He especially loved riding on the tram that takes you up and down the long boardwalk.  We've talked about the trip ever since we got back, so I know we had fun!

Please comment if anyone had any other ideas for how to make traveling easier with food allergies and/or if you have any other good food ideas.  I could always use them!!


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