Car Trip

We are going to the beach next week. We have an 8 -10 hour car ride to our destination. Woo Hoo!! I’ve got some suggestions on where and how to eat.

A cooler with supplies is great – water, apples, grapes, and popcorn snacks are all in the cooler. But sometimes, you need and want a hot meal. So, here are some suggestions for the trip.

Inevitably, there will be a need for gasoline. What can you get at a gas station? Many gas stations are now carrying fruit and yogurt in the middle refrigerated section. Often times the fruit options are wrapped in plastic wrap to keep it safe from cross contamination. Chips of all varieties are always available but you have to know which ones are gluten free. My go to’s are Smart Pop White Cheddar Popcorn and plain old Lays. There are a ton of candy options – again, check the labels on that one.

If you are not driving, I’ve even found hard ciders or hard seltzers to be a lifesaver too. Traveling with kids can be stressful.

Restaurants are always tricky as there is always a risk of cross contamination. As a celiac sufferer, you have to decide if this is something you are willing to risk. I live in the Southeast US and have different fast food than others. There are lots of options at fast food chains – Wendy’s has chili and baked potatoes, Chick Fil A has grilled nuggets, fries, and chips, and Zaxby’s has chicken wings and fries.

As you go up in price point and time sitting at a restaurant, Chipotle, Zoe’s Kitchen, and Outback are all excellent choices with a large number of gluten free choices.

Now, if these aren’t available or you are really in the middle of nowhere, here are some suggestions for your journey.

When approaching a restaurant, tell them that you have a gluten allergy. If they look at you sideways, then explain that you can’t have anything with bread or wheat. These days, even in the most backwoods areas of the country they’ve heard of of gluten. They may not know what it is, but they’ve heard of it.

Also, don’t expect the restaurant to make many changes to accommodate your needs. In other words, don’t order mac and cheese and expect they will be able to accommodate us.

Try a BBQ place. Most of the time the proteins are seasoned with salt and pepper only. You might have to forgo the BBQ sauce, but it will be fine. Ask if they thicken the BBQ sauce with flour – that will let you know if it is safe. Many places, especially in the south, serve BBQ with a slice of white bread. Also, choose the least processed sides you can find – corn on the cob or green beans. Often times, baked beans are thickened with BBQ sauce, so if the BBQ sauce is safe so probably are the baked beans. Macaroni and cheese is a vegetable down here, so don’t order that. 😉

I would stay away from pizza, Italian, chinese, japanese, and thai food if you can.

A burger joint is often a great choice. Burgers without buns are go to’s. If french fries are on the menu, ask about the fryer. But ask if the fryer is “shared with onion rings/chicken fingers” or other gluten heavy snack to know if the fryer is dedicated or not.

I always find breakfast places to be accommodating as well. Eggs and bacon are always a great options. Obviously gluten free pancakes and gluten free waffles would be a luxury item.

If for some reason things go sideways and you feel the tummy rumbles, Starbucks has clean bathrooms. Larger gas stations normally have clean bathrooms. I was in the back woods of southeast Georgia one time on the way back from Florida and found a little, tiny, gas station with 2 pumps. The bathrooms were so clean I could have eaten off the floors.

So, I hope in your travel adventures you can have a great time and stay safe.

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