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I do enjoy taking vacations, but I’ve never been a huge traveller. In fact, I really enjoy taking time off of work to stay home and do things around the house, like get caught up on chores, watch movies and TV, read, and do other relaxing things. However, it’s exciting going somewhere fun for vacation. I love the Disney parks. I’ve been on a couple of cruises. I love going to the beach. The mountains can be nice too. I’ve gone away with family and with friends. I have a lot of good memories from the vacations I’ve taken over the years.

On the other hand, I don’t like travelling for work. The last couple of conferences I’ve attended have truly been awful experiences for me. While the conferences themselves were not great, health issues made them that much worse. The first one I could not sleep well the entire time there and was exhausted during the day from all the conference activities. I would spend time

Is this REALLY gluten-free?!

Is this REALLY gluten-free?!

outside of the conference miserable in my room. This was before I went gluten-free, so I hadn’t even discovered that major health issue yet. The second one was after, but I had the hardest time getting the correct meals because I was not consuming dairy at the time. They kept confusing my requests for vegetarian meals. One of the meals contained regular oatmeal, which I stupidly thought was something else, and I had a rough rest of the day after eating it.

Now, with my issues with wheat/gluten becoming much more magnified, traveling even for fun has me stressed. Any kind of travel had better be well worth it before I would even consider going along. I will never go on another trip for work unless I’m asked. If the destination is close enough to home, I basically just go for a day trip and don’t even stay the night. It’s just easier than trying to figure out what to do for all the required meals. Maybe I’m letting my issues with food dictate what I will and will not do, but I’d rather not deal with the stress if I don’t have to. Trips are stressful enough with the packing, making hotel or vacation rental reservations, planning activities, saving up money, and other things. Issues with food just greatly magnify the stress. There are so many more things to think about, prepare for, and plan.

Vacations and trips take more planning and preparation now than they ever have because I’m so much more sensitive now. I used to take a large cooler to store my meals for the road trip and would put each meal in a smaller lunchbox to take into a restaurant for me to eat. Now that I have to make sure even the lunchbox and containers/bags that go into them have to stay clean, I’ve decided to take three small hard-sided coolers for my lunchboxes to store each of my meals separately. That way, I can make sure that everything stays clean and uncontaminated until after I’ve eaten. Used utensils and dishes will go back into the same lunchbox, keeping the others protected until after I’ve eaten their contents. I keep utensils and cooking appliances in the car in case of emergencies, which I can also use for trips, and I’ll probably run the utensils and the container used to store them through the dishwasher to make sure no wheat/gluten residue is on or inside of them before I pack them. The mini-skillet that I plan to take will probably have to be washed thoroughly once I unpack it at our destination. I’ve also decided that for several meals I may need to do something like an Ensure shake, a fruit/nut bar, and a banana because I could probably eat these anywhere and not have to worry so much about protection from cross-contamination. I’ll just have to be careful opening the packaging and handling them. When I prepare meals to take out of the house while we’re in our destination, I’ll probably have to store the whole lunchbox in the fridge so my food items don’t get contaminated by it. I’ll have to work even harder to keep my stuff separate and be extra careful about washing my hands at the right times to keep my food safe. As for my pills, I’ll probably have to wash the day storage containers in the dishwasher or just hand-wash them. I’ll then have to pour the proper amount into a bowl, wash my hands after I put the pill bottles away and before touching the pills, and then separate them into the containers. I can then pack the containers and while on vacation take the pills out of them each day after opening the containers and washing my hands. My probiotic needs to be refrigerated, so I’ll probably have to keep the containers in the fridge. I’ve also thought about just doing without the probiotic for the time away just to keep things simple. I’ve used the Find Me Gluten-Free app to find some promising restaurant options at our destination. Hopefully things will go well at these restaurants. They would at least give me a break from meal planning and preparation. I’ll probably rely a lot on prepared dinners, like Amy’s Kitchen entrees, as well to save myself the trouble of trying to figure out how to prepare food in a shared kitchen and minimize chances of making handling mistakes. I may even get things like Beanee Weenees and fruit cups that I could just easily throw into a lunchbox, after washing them of course.

Travel can be extremely stressful when you have to do so much planning around food and food preparation. That’s why I choose to do less of it than I would have ordinarily, because I don’t want to have to deal with all the stress. There are times when it’s worth it to try to figure out what to do, like going on extended trips to exciting destinations with family and friends. That’s when I will take the time to try to figure out how to handle meals. If I decide that certain travel is not worth it, like conferences for work and destinations that are close by, I will just choose not to go along or just not stay overnight. Most of the time, I just prefer to stay at home and relax. That way, I don’t have to worry about the usual stress that comes with travel and about the food issues on top of it. My level of sensitivity makes things extraordinarily difficult, and I hope I’ve thought through everything for the upcoming trip with my family. Perhaps, if you’re extremely sensitive as well, some of what I’m planning to do may provide some ideas of things that you have not thought of yourself or that you could try that would work for you when you travel.

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