On the road again-traveling with IBS and food allergies

I used to love road trips.  As a kid in the back of my dad’s station wagon, fighting with my brother, feeling the wind whip my hair, stopping at all those dumb roadside attractions.  When I didn’t have to pee every five minutes, and didn’t have to worry about what I ate.   Ah the good old days!

Those days are a distant memory.  Since Mr. gallbladder went kablooie I have spent my life making sure I know where every bathroom is within a 20 mile radius.  Adding gluten and dairy intolerance to the mix gives a whole new meaning to gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now!

Any time we would go visit my in-laws at their fabulous river house in Virginia, as soon as my hubby would say, “we are getting in the HOV lanes”, my heart would drop with a sickening splash into my stomach.  I would make sure to eat a light lunch.  Something I thought wouldn’t upset my delicate tummy.   Scrambled eggs maybe, or French toast.  Nothing to drink but a few sips of water.  Then, praying to the saints of traffic and digestion, off we would go.

Meanwhile, the little gremlin who resides in my stomach-you know the one with the pitchfork- would inevitably  start dancing and chanting, “road trip, road trip, she’s on a road trip” as he cackled with glee.  As traffic came to a complete standstill , it would begin.  The rumbling, churning, and and that uh oh feeling of impending doom.   So far my luck has held out.  But I still dread HOV lanes.

Recently we took a trip down to Tennessee.  Hubby is retiring and we are looking to relocate from the Northeast.  I knew ahead of time that it would be a challenge but I had no idea just how difficult it would be.

Like most people with food allergies, I am most comfortable in my own kitchen where I have total control over what I am eating.   I did some checking ahead on restaurants that were gluten free.  Ah, but add dairy free to that and your options quickly dwindle.

I made sure I brought gluten free snacks with me just in case I had to ” break glass in case of emergency”.   The easiest part was when we were right off the interstate.  I got so familiar in fact with Cracker Barrels menu I could recite it in my sleep.  I also Googled my little fingers off.  Thank God for the Internet and wifi!

The best website for findi g a gluten free restaurant by state is


If I had to do it over again there are some things I would do differently.

I would bring a cooler.  Sandwiches and fruit would have been great

I would get a room with a kitchenette.  I think it would have been easier and cheaper to cook my own meals.

I would have made reservations.  On our first night we ran into NASCAR and everything was booked.  We we tired and hungry and our dining choices were limited.

As I have said before, even with all of these challenges you can have a great road trip.  All it takes is a bit of planning and lots and lots of luck.

I can feel that wind now….

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