Tomorrow we are off to Atlanta for a long weekend. I’m so excited because we are visiting my cousin, Marissa and her family, and Brad’s uncle, Uncle Sidney (more affectionately known as Uncle Rubs). This trip is important to me to a few reasons – it’s the first time we will be meeting this group of our extended families and it’s the first time I’m seeing my cousin since she got married – four years ago!
Traveling with food sensitivities and allergies can be hard. Airports usually don’t have a great offering of foods that are free of gluten, dairy, and eggs. I have been stuck many times so hungry after a long day working or traveling and my only options are potato chips. But, with a little bit of planning, flying with food sensitivities can be easy and hunger-free.
If you are like me, the days leading up to a trip are hectic, especially if Lulu and Boomer are being boarded (luckily, Grandma and Grandpa are dog-sitting for us for this trip). I am a list-maker, and as fast I cross off an item on my list, a new task get’s added. One item that is on my list is snacks for the plane. Since we will only be gone for the weekend and the flight to Atlanta is quick, I just need a few snacks. When I went to Saint Maartin for the first time a few years ago, I put several things in my suitcase, not knowing how easy it would be to find some foods like almond milk.
A few days before leaving, I stop by the grocery store and pick up snacks that are easy to get through airport security (for a complete list of what is allowed and what is not, visit the TSA website). My go-to carry-on snacks are LARABARs or fruit bars. Fruit bars can be high in sugar, so I may also bring lower sugar snacks such as nuts like pecans or walnuts. I have also packed an almond butter and jelly sandwich on gluten-free bread. Remember to plan ahead for the return flight home if you have an early morning flight. I usually bring extra LARABARs and keep them in my suitcase for the return flight home. If I have a flight later in the day, I try and eat a nice meal before heading for the airport.
For this trip, since it’s a quick flight to Atlanta, I picked up a few LÄRABARs and fruit bars from Trader Joe’s. These are good back-ups in case there isn’t a Starbucks near our gate and I can’t get oatmeal with coconut milk before our flight.
Whenever I’m visiting someplace new, one of the first sites I visit is TripAdvisor. I feel that of all the review sites out there, the reviews on this site are honest and accurate. I have found some of my favorite restaurants from TripAdvisor. I spend time looking up restaurants at different price levels so I have a good idea of what’s best for each meal. I start by filtering the results to show “gluten-free options” and whatever meal I’m looking for, such as dinner, or cuisine type. I start at the top of the search results and start reading the reviews. If the reviews are positive, I then go to the restaurant’s website to look at the menu. That will tell me if this is someplace that really does offer options that work with my diet. If all the boxes get checked, then I add it to the list of places to try. If the menu looks too hard to modify or there just isn’t a good selection of things to eat, then I move onto the next restaurant. I have even called the restaurant ahead of time to confirm they can accommodate my food sensitivities.
When you are ordering, don’t be shy about asking to modify your order. Also remember to ask questions to confirm how an item is prepared. The way an item is described in the menu may not always include ingredients that can cause us problems. For example, if I am ordering fish, I ask the waiter to please have the chef cook it in olive oil instead of butter and not coat the fish in flour prior to cooking. Restaurants have become very accommodating to people with food allergies and sensitivities.
Traveling should be fun and with just a little bit of prep, you can have a stress-free and hunger-free vacation. Bon Voyage!