Have you been wondering how to have a fun and relaxed vacation with your gluten-sensitive, dairy-sensitive child? Then this week's article is for you!

From my experience, many children who go gluten-free and dairy-free due to sensitivities or low-inflammatory diets can have severe reactions to gluten and dairy after they’ve been “cleansed.” And the last thing we want on a vacation is for our kids to have a bad reaction. Nothing worse than being sick when you're away from home!

So, you want to stick with it—the gluten-free, dairy-free diet—even on vacation. And in this article, we’re going to explore how to make that possible.

Common Challenges When Traveling with a Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Child

When you hit the road with your gluten-free, dairy-free child for the first time, or if you have memories of past vacations that didn’t turn out so great, you're already going into it with some anxiety.

But let me tell you, sticking to the diet with these recommendations will make things so much easier and more manageable for you. Most importantly, your kids will dive into a memorable adventure and vacation without relapsing into old symptoms or getting sick from their trigger foods.

This doesn’t mean you can't go out to eat. When traveling with a gluten-free, dairy-free child, I like to categorize families into three levels: beginners, intermediate, or advanced.

Depending on where you find yourself, I have different recommendations for you.


At this stage, you are just getting started to wrap your brain around a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. You’re learning what foods to avoid and discovering safe alternatives, but dining out feels overwhelming and unfamiliar.

Vacation planning may seem daunting, so choosing a destination where you can prepare meals yourself and have full control over what your child eats is essential for peace of mind.

Pre-cooking meals and finding accommodations with a kitchen can help make this transition smoother and more enjoyable for everyone.

When I first started traveling with my son, he was only used to eating what I cooked for him and wouldn’t eat at all or just not enough when we dined at restaurants. So, I chose our vacation location and lodgings accordingly.

It had to be a place where I could cook myself. I also didn’t want to spend MY vacation tied to the kitchen, so I pre-cooked as many meals as I could and transported them in several coolers to our vacation home.

Our fridge filled with pre-cooked meals I brought from home.

Living in Austria made it easy because we’re just a 3-hour drive from countries like Italy and Croatia with access to the Mediterranean.

For you, this might mean looking for a vacation destination where you can easily drive and find a vacation home. AirBnB has made it easier to find a nice vacation home with a kitchen, and I’m sure you’ll find an appealing place nearby where you'd like to spend your family vacation.


If you're at this stage, you already know what to eat on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet and are learning how to go about it. You might have your replacements and alternative foods dialed in at home but are still broadening your menu and haven’t taken it to eating out yet.

Stick to large, common travel destinations. You may still want accommodations with a kitchen to cook occasionally, or you might try staying at a hotel. Choose a place with a good track record of offering gluten-free, dairy-free options.

Plan ahead as much as possible and find places that will accommodate your dietary needs. Research restaurant options online, check menus, and confirm with the hotel if they offer gluten-free, dairy-free meals. Support groups on Facebook can also provide recommendations on where to eat out.


If you’re advanced, you’ve got this gluten-free, dairy-free diet down to a science. It’s second nature. 

You might be ready for an international vacation. You may be surprised at how accommodating other countries are for a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle. Countries like Italy, France, and Spain have a gluten-free culture.

Yes, there are foods with gluten and dairy, but they also offer a wide variety of fresh fruits, veggies, and gluten-free alternatives to foods we love, like bread.

Worried about the language barrier? Get a translation card. You can find these online at Equal Eats, and they will say “I’m gluten-free” or “I’m dairy-free” in the local language, listing foods that hide gluten or dairy. Use these cards at restaurants to ensure you're understood and can eat worry-free.

Flying vs. Driving: Choosing the Best Travel Option

When it comes to traveling with a gluten-free, dairy-free child, deciding between flying and driving can significantly impact your planning and overall experience.


Flying can be convenient and faster, especially for long distances, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Airlines have strict weight, liquid, and bag limits, which can make bringing enough safe food for your child tricky. Here's how to manage it:

So plan ahead. Request gluten-free meals on international flights at least a week in advance and call the airline to confirm 48 hours before departure.

Some airlines allow you to bring a cooler with one frozen ice pack on board. Use this to pack perishable gluten-free, dairy-free foods.

Snacks Are Key. Pack plenty of non-perishable snacks like gluten-free bars, nuts, and dried fruits. Remember, any liquid or gel-like snacks must comply with the TSA's 3-1-1 rule (3.4 ounces or less per container, all in a single quart-sized bag).

Despite these measures, the limitations of flying might make it feel restrictive, especially if your child has specific or extensive dietary requirements.


Driving to your vacation destination opens up a lot more options for what food you can bring and how much you can pack. Here's why driving can be a game-changer:

Bring It All. Without weight and liquid limits, you can bring as much gluten-free, dairy-free food as you need. Pack a cooler with pre-cooked meals, snacks, and even some fresh fruits and veggies.

With more space, you can also bring portable cooking equipment like a food processor. FYI, I bring my Thermomix on every vacation. This allows you to cook safe meals no matter where you are. And what I love about the Thermomix is that it does most of the cooking without me and I can walk away. It also keeps all my favorite recipes stored, so I don’t need to worry about bringing any recipes with me.

Driving offers the flexibility to stop whenever and wherever you need to. This is especially helpful if you need to find a grocery store for more gluten-free, dairy-free options or if you want to prepare a meal on the go.

Making the Choice

Both flying and driving have their pros and cons. If your destination is far and time is a factor, flying might be your best option despite the limitations. However, if you're within a reasonable driving distance, hitting the road could provide a stress-free and flexible way to ensure your child's dietary needs are met.

Remember, the goal is to make your vacation enjoyable and stress-free. Choose the travel method that best suits your family's needs and allows you to maintain a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle with ease. Happy travels!

More Tips to Avoid Hangry Kids

Always. Bring. Snacks.

The worst scenario is hungry kids turned angry making you unable to think clearly about where to eat. Pack portable snacks in your day bag for when hunger strikes. I usually pack some bars, bites, and nuts.

Check Reviews

Check out reviews of restaurants at your vacation destination. Do a YouTube or Google search to locate them and read reviews. If a review says, “I have celiac and I ate here safely,” you know it's a good place to eat for your family as well.

By following these tips, you can turn your family vacation into a stress-free and enjoyable adventure while keeping your gluten-free, dairy-free child happy and healthy!

xx Bettina

About the Author Bettina

Bettina Gross is a holistic pediatric health coach who empowers moms to take charge of their kids health and step into their own role as a healer, so that they can raise healthy, happy kids and live the family life of their dreams.

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