Don’t let food allergies hold your family back from exploring uncharted territory in the car this summer– check out these gluten-free road trip tips and hit the road, Jack!
Before You Leave
Consider your destination: Chances are, your grueling hours in the car are the means to an end. Make sure your final destination, where you’ll likely spend a few days, has plenty of GF options. (Read: a road trip to a southern-fried town in the middle of nowhere might not be the best option for you.) Disneyland and Walt Disney World are both known for being especially accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions. Great Wolf Resorts are located across the country, all of which can cater to gluten-free needs. Other cities worth checking out include: Portland, San Francisco & Los Angeles on the West Coast; New York City, Boston & Washington D.C. on the East Coast; and Denver & Chicago in-between.
Plan your stops: Getting to your destination is half the battle (if not more)! Before heading out, it’s crucial to know your route. Use Find Me Gluten Free to scope out safe options on the road. If there are long stretches of wilderness on your itinerary, stop to eat before and after instead of leaving it to chance and running the risk of hungry kids.
Be proactive: Do NOT hesitate to call a restaurant or hotel ahead of time. Recipes, management and accommodations are always subject to change. If you hear about a restaurant on your route that seems safe, call to double check before parking the car and unloading the troops.
Overpack: Sometimes being a minimalist and living on the edge is fun, but not so much on a gluten-free road trip. Pack more than enough snacks and drinks for everyone, just in case an option falls through. The extra few minutes it takes to pack a bag of food tops being hungry (and, most likely, hangry) any day. Our favorite road trip snacks include apples, protein bars, nuts and trail mix– they’re all mess-free, compact, filling and don’t need to be kept cold!
During Your Adventure
The kitchen is still your friend: If you’ll be staying in hotels throughout your journey, aim to get accommodations with a kitchen (or at least a mini fridge). If you have a full kitchen, you can save money and hassle by cooking up a pot of GF pasta for your family after a long day on the road. Having a mini fridge in the room helps too– you can store sandwich fixings or fresh veggies. Even if your hotel can’t offer mini fridges for your room, they’ll sometimes allow you to store cold foods in their fridge if you tell them celiac disease or a gluten intolerance is involved.
Keep your eyes peeled for produce: A fun way to stay fueled on the road is by picking up some fresh, local produce. Produce stands are more common than you may think, especially in rural areas. You just might taste the best blueberry of your life on the side of a country road in Michigan– we sure did!
No guessing games: Assuming that a restaurant or dish is safe can make you or your family very sick. While we love a positive attitude, sometimes being overly optimistic on the road isn’t the best idea. If you think a place can accommodate you, do your research and be sure before committing.
Don’t forget to breathe: Navigating your road trip may be exhausting at times, but in the end, the wonderful memories that result will outshine any bumps in the road. As long as you’re well prepared and have plenty of snacks, no surprises or setbacks will be catastrophic. So relax, be flexible and have sense of humor!
After the Fun
Document your trip: Keep a master list of all your stops, restaurants and hotels. You may want to reference it in the future to make recommendations or even visit again yourself. Everyone loves sharing photos with friends on social media, but scrapbooks are a fun additional way to commemorate your trip. If blogging is your forte, share your adventure that way!
Contribute to the gluten free community: Over the course of your trip, you probably had some hits, misses and new gluten free discoveries. Share your experiences on Find Me Gluten Free by contributing to existing reviews or even suggesting new restaurants. This will give future GF roadtrippers extra resources to plan their itineraries!
Cheers to an unforgettable family vacation. We’d love to see and hear about your adventure. Best of luck!