This year, we went on vacation to Florida as usual. The main difference with this summer was that our kids’ dietary restrictions and supplements were stricter than ever and more challenging than before. So, we went ahead, did only 2 days in the Hard Rock Hotel, and did everything we could possibly do to maintain and manage control of their dietary and supplemental requirements.
This was not easy, and mistakes were made. I’ve compiled a list of where I failed, and how I can make it better next time:
- Bring your own cookware.
It’s not just about getting a hotel with a kitchen; I completely forgot about cookware! Timeshare kitchens have notoriously cheap cookware. Not only was it the unsafe kind, it wasn’t nonstick so if I looked at it too hard food got stuck – and didn’t come off, I mean, at all. It didn’t help that I forgot to buy anything to soften the pan. So do what you can to bring or buy the stuff required so you can make allergen-free French toast without tossing out the pan.
- Find the nearest health store or market.
That morning, I realized we ran out of probiotics. There was no time to order my usual brand that is exclusively online, so I went with a brand that I’d heard many of my friends who are treating their kids biomedically take: Probiotics I’d seen it in the health store, so I logged into my search service and had them perform a search on who carried this item. Viola! Whole Foods, where we needed to go anyway to stock up on gluten-free and dairy-free foods, carried this item for kids.
- Call ahead when bringing and shipping medical supplies.
We were giving our kids B12 shots at the time, so we called the airport to make sure it was cool to pack them. We found out that you may be asked for your script, so we made sure to bring it with us. Also, make sure to call the prescribing doctor or pharmacy that these items can fly, can be repacked in ice, and can get warm if your ice melts. Ask for how much time you have to keep it cold, in case you cannot keep it at proper temperatures for the length of travel and what to do if something like losing your luggage happens.
- Plan meals to take with you.
I mean, plan them completely! Make sure there is something light and easy to carry when you’re at theme parks or traveling, that you have enough time to make it, and that you bring your kids’ lunch containers to carry it! This is by far the biggest mistake we made, especially when we went to the restaurant, after a long day and a longer walk, that looked at us and said, “Gluten-free, did you say? Hunh, that’s a new one.” Yikes. I’m happy to report that T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe had a chef come over, which is what they are supposed to do. The parks were very good too, but be careful on CityWalk.
- Bring enzymes and activated charcoal.
Honestly, I have not used the latter, but this is what you need to cleanse the system when the random molecule of gluten or drop of dairy passes through your tight defenses. Something I really wish I’d done this time around, but at least I had the probiotics to help reduce digestive upsets because my kids can’t speak to it when their tummy hurts.
We had a great time, we had tons of fun, but serious missteps on those 5 tips above meant that we saw tons of behaviors when we got back home, including the re-introduction of Zoe not sleeping again. So much for a year and a half of peace and quiet! The trip itself was ideal, though. We all laughed, played, and nobody argued or whined, not even me 🙂
I’m insistent that vacation can work for people with gluten sensitivities and other allergies if you plan, are diligent, and learn from past mistakes. I know that being gluten-free and keeping the gut healthy is a high-level priority for my children, but so is living life and enjoying what the world has to offer. These 5 steps will help get there better next time!