There is no need to leave your own country to travel and explore. Caitlin Reiter is allergic to peanuts and shellfish, lactose intolerant and blogs at Caity’s Kitchen. She took a road trip from Orange County, California to Portland, Oregon and tells us all about her adventure.
Do you ever hop in your car, and want to keep driving until you find somewhere beautiful to stop? Most would think that people with food allergies (especially with a severe peanut allergy like mine) may not be able to take a spontaneous trip. Having food allergies does not stop me from enjoying life, and discovering new, beautiful places!
This past fall, my husband and I took a week off work to drive up the west coast, from our home in Orange County, up through Portland, Oregon. We technically stayed right above Portland in Washington, so I still share that we drove through 3 states…because that’s a better story!
Researching the road trip
As we started to plan our trip, my husband and I split up the work. He researched the best route and the best hotels, and I researched safe restaurants and bakeries so that we could actually eat out on our trip. I cannot say it enough, for someone with food allergies, doing a little homework before a trip can make all the difference in the world. I enjoyed some amazing food, and didn’t have to stress about where to eat.
When I think back to the trip, there were two wonderful highlights for me, and both surprisingly had food and drinks involved. Often when I think of going out or going on vacation, I simply think of food and drinks as necessities, but this trip definitely changed that.
The first highlight of the trip for me was in wine country, where we stayed in Sonoma County for our first two nights. I tried to research information on wine tasting with food allergies beforehand, and was surprised to not find any information or help (although I have since written a post on my blog about this). However, I did my research on different wineries, and tried to think through any potential issues. We were very fortunate to find a wonderful winery that also had a great deal on Groupon.
Before we stopped by the winery, though, we made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s to pick up meat and crackers. We visited the Blue Victorian at Vezer Family Vineyards and had an amazing experience. By calling ahead, we learned that there would not be any issues with my allergies, and that they would allow us to bring our own snacks to eat while we tasted wine. Being a pretty small woman, it was probably a good thing to have some snacks with all the different wine we got to taste!
Vegan ice cream
The second highlight of our trip was our first full day in Portland. After a long, beautiful drive up Highway 1, we were ready to stretch our legs and walk around Portland. After we visited the lovely International Rose Test Garden, we stopped at the number one place on my list: Fifty Licks. For those of us that cannot have dairy or nuts, we have serious ice cream envy. But on that lovely, gray Portland day, I got to walk around the farmers market with the most delicious chocolate dairy-free, nut-free ice cream cone. Half of their menu has ice cream with dairy, but the other half is vegan (and amazing). I tried the vegan chocolate ice cream cone, as well as the vegan coconut lemon saffron ice cream cone, and both were delicious. We definitely went back the next day, and ate three more ice cream cones between the two of us!
The entire trip was a lovely adventure, and I am so grateful to have enjoyed so many wonderful meals. If you are in the area, or plan to visit, I highly recommend visiting Vezer Family Vineyards in Napa, the International Rose Test Garden and Fifty Licks in Portland, and Il Fornaio San Francisco. I also recommend bringing a cooler in the car with safe (and healthy) snacks for those long stretches of driving. You never know when you will hit a long stretch without a safe restaurant, so I like to keep sandwich fixings, cereal, fruits, and vegetables in the cooler with us just in case (also to keep from eating too much junk food).
Do you have any tips for road tripping with food allergies, or any suggestions for places to visit on the West Coast? Leave a comment below!
Find out more about visiting USA with food allergies