Traveling is one of the most difficult things to do when you or your child has food allergies. As a mom, I constantly plan and worry that the trip will go well and without incident. Sometimes planning the route of travel, if we are driving, by where we can safely stop to eat. Honestly, nothing makes me happier than hitting the Florida border and seeing that first Publix sign on the way back to our hometown. I know the grocery stores there but Publix is by far the best for organic, gluten free and peanut fee items in a normal, regular grocery store. You guys have to remember where I'm living and that our only grocery store is Walmart. The first week of our trip we stayed in a condo on the beach with a full kitchen. When we travel for lengthy times I like to have a full kitchen so that I know for sure I can feed my child if there are no other options for her there. In big cities we have been lucky but so often in other places there is the risk of cross contamination and she has gotten sick due to this. For other people who actually have celiacs, sometimes it's easier for them to "cheat" and eat the occasional gluten when traveling but for me, my children are my life and to think that I would give something to her that is not only unsafe for her but to know that it will make her sick, it's like a knife in my heart. I would do anything to keep any of my children safe and healthy and we have had our fair share of health issues in our family over the last 16 years, some in my control and some not. This is why it is so important for me to share the things we've learned, because I know how hard it is.
So, in Jacksonville, I relied almost entirely on Publix and a few good restaurants during our stay. I did bring two loaves of homemade bread sliced from home and some of her favorite snacks so we didn't have to search multiple stores for a few things. We were hit with a tropical storm at the start of our trip and some time we needed to kill that we couldn't be at the beach or pool. We ended up finding a really great restaurant in the Town Center area called BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse. I am shocked as I was very unsure about this place initially but they had an entire gluten free menu. It ended up being fabulous. There was also Mellow Mushroom Pizza and Taco Lu's that offer Gluten free options. The best part of the trip though was our second week. We spent the second week at Disney. We had researched and called and still had no clue what we were in for. Disney does everything right, why I lost sight of that, I just don't know. We had an amazing condo on Disney property with a kitchen yet I barely cooked that week at all, I think breakfast was the only thing I ended up making yet it wasn't necessary, just worked out with timing. Literally, Isabelle could eat at any restaurant on the property or any restaurant at any of the parks comepletely safe. The deal with Disney is you tell either your waiter or waitress you have a food allergy and the chef comes out of the kitchen and talks to you. He gets an understanding of the allergy/ies, offers you options for the specific allergies and then goes to a seperate part of the kitchen, prepares the meal and hand delivers it back to the table. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It was the most amazing and fantastic part of our vacation and I was finally able to relax a little and enjoy the entire Disney experience. It was pretty funny, Lana and Shelby said we should come back and live there after they head off to college so that Izzy could eat whatever she wanted. HAHAHAHA. Isabelle was offered so many amazing options, I didn't even care about nutrition for a week, they had options for her that she NEVER gets unless I figure out a way to make it homemade or find a product I can trust that tastes good. It was truly an amazing experience for everyone in the family.