Going on a family vacation may seem like a daunting task when you have a gluten-free child, but your child’s dietary restriction doesn’t need to take away from a great family vacation.
The key to ensuring that your family vacation is a success is to be prepared. Before you go away, you need to have a plan for every meal and know that your child has something to eat (whether that “plan” be a reservation at a gluten-free friendly restaurant, a bagel you are bringing from home, or food you are getting at a dedicated gluten-free bakery). If you are going to a city, search online for restaurants, bakeries, and other eateries that serve gluten-free food in this city. One great resource is Find Me Gluten Free.
Once you have found potential eateries, call them and speak to a manager to ensure that the way their gluten-free food is being prepared is safe for your child to eat. After this vetting process, make a plan/schedule to be sure that your gluten-free child has something to eat for every meal (ex: Sunday- Bakery A for lunch, Restaurant B for dinner). To make things easier, you can just bring cereal for your child to eat for breakfast at the hotel you are staying at (one less meal per day to worry about). You can also check to see if the hotel can accommodate your child for breakfast—by making them gluten-free eggs, for example. Of course, be sure that the hotel chefs are preparing the food in a safe manner that avoids any potential cross contamination. For advice on what questions to ask in this situation, refer to the page on restaurants.
It is imperative that you bring many different non-perishable snacks such as gluten-free bars, pretzels, and chips on any trip, because you don’t know if a gluten-free snack will always be available to buy. You can also bring meals in a cooler like a gluten-free sandwich with a yogurt and grapes, but be sure that such items stay cold and are eaten before they spoil. If your family is going on a long trip, it is likely necessary that you find at least one place where you can get fresh food for your child.
One of the most gluten-free friendly vacation spots in the world is Disney World. I cannot speak for any of the other Disney locations since I’ve only been to Disney World (Florida), but I can say that Disney World is very accommodating for people with Celiac. The chefs are able to make all kinds of gluten-free foods and meals, take necessary precautions to avoid all cross-contamination, and are more than happy to come to your table to answer any questions you may have. I found the chefs to be very friendly and willing to work with me to ensure that I was happy with my meals. Consequently, my family has gone to Disney World and been on Disney cruises multiple times, and every time we have been happy with their food accommodations.