Traveling with a gluten free child

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England

Alnwick Castle, home of the Duke of Northumberland and Harry Potter movies

After a few months of turning our dietary lifestyle on its head and familiarizing myself with the world of g-free, I face the prospect of traveling through Europe for just under 2 months with a 7-year old gluten intolerant child and his 4 year old brother.

After a gap of three years since going ‘back home’, there is a lot of ground to cover with friends and relatives in England, Germany and Sweden. Given that gluten free lunch boxes and birthday party treats have been as tough as it gets so far, the thought of managing my sons dietary needs while living out of suitcases and mastering trains, planes and automobiles is a tad daunting.

Virgin Atlantic offers a gluten free meal option. My only criticism is that this is offered for adults only and not for children. I overcome this by ordering the gluten free meal in my name instead of my sons. Once the food arrives I actually envy his meal. The grilled chicken breast, rice and vegetables with rice cakes, salad and fruit salad as sides is actually a lot more appetizing than the usual plane food. Beyond the main meal, however, I’m more than pleased that I have pre-packed a bag full of potato chips, rice cakes, popcorn and gluten free cereal bars.

In England the gluten free bread and pasta taste second to none and are readily available in all supermarkets. The lesson we quickly learn is not to rely on gluten free food options being available in museum cafés and tourist attractions and after a day or two of lunches of potato chips and fruit, I start making gluten free sandwiches to eat throughout the day. The great thing about England is that there is usually a baked potato option on just about any menu, this provides a good meal alternative while we are on the go.

The Wannsee in Berlin

Cooling off in the Wannsee in Berlin

In Germany, the gluten free bread tastes like cardboard and there isn’t much choice, but the pasta is great and we succumb to eating pommes frites (French fries) a lot while on the go. I conclude that as long as we are eating healthy lashings of fruit and vegetables it’s not the end of the world to be eating so many fries – and we’re on vacation after all.

Swedish West Coast

Smögen on the Swedish West Coast

In Sweden, where we also spend a week on a sailing boat, the gluten free selection in the supermarkets is phenomenal. Just about every Swedish kitchen staple is replicated in a gluten free version. The bread rolls are delicious and we all begin to prefer them. The big gluten free brand is Semper. They have cornered the market and really have got it right. That on top of amazing seafood and the great Swedish korv (hot dogs), see us through with ease.

It helps greatly that everyone has been to the supermarket before we arrive and that we have gluten free food on hand the minute we land, but even without this preparation the supermarkets have everything clearly labeled and g-free is easy to find – in any language.

2 months later, I declare our gluten free travels a success. Don’t let diet stop you from doing the things you really want to do.

This post was featured as a guest post at Thanks Carrie!


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