Today’s allergy entrepreneur sharing her story is Amelia Atkinson, the founder and creator of Pillows & Pitstops, a website that helps travellers find recommended stop-offs on their journey. When my family drives from Cheshire to Cornwall, our food options normally comprise a packed lunch, or scouring the service station signs for an M&S or McDonalds. Is it possible to enjoy (rather than endure) a journey when travelling with food allergies? As someone with allergies, who is also a fellow nutmum, Amelia believes it is. Here she explains how Pillows & Pitstops can help…
Allergies On The Road
We parents of allergic kiddies have two things in common:
- We’d all rather have the allergy ourselves than subject our children to it
- We all feel a little bit sick when trying an independent new-to-us eatery. Do they really understand the severity of what we are telling them?
Idealistic – Stay at home, eat our own packed lunches and wash our own cutlery.
Realistic – We will have times when we want, or need, to grab-and-go, eat on the hoof.
Learning to live with an allergy includes understanding that our on-the-run eating isn’t quite as spontaneous as others can enjoy. But it is also accepting that, in most cases, there are options for eating out and places that do really get it. You just have to find them.
So what can we do on journeys? Do our kids with allergies have to stick to The Car Picnic? Or can we share with them the joys of en-route detours to great leg-stretching open spaces, local handmade food serveries and beautiful countryside?
Plan ahead. Allergies shouldn’t stop you enjoying your journey as much as your destination, you just need to plan your route and the timing of breakfast/lunch/potential wee request to head straight for a gorgeous place that speaks your language. (You certainly don’t want to drive 10 minutes off route to discover ‘Gluten Free’ is a foreign phrase to the only café around).
I’ve found some great Allergy Friends…
The Elm Tree, just off the M1 near Chesterfield, has a great menu with each allergy given a number and each dish allocated the relevant digits. And a children’s play area to boot!
Bellis Brothers Farm Shop on the Wrexham road (a North Wales route) has an entire gluten free menu that’s not far short of the standard one.
While Tebay Services on M6 (Cumbria) have even been known to go and make food especially for particular allergies. NB. Along with Gloucester Services they are two of a kind – not your average service station!
As a fellow allergy sufferer and mum of one too, I want to encourage you all that with careful planning, catering for allergies on the road doesn’t need to be disheartening with a feeling of Groundhog Day.
Plan in advance
Choose your spot
Call in advance
Enjoy the comfort of sharing your burden
I run a website where you can find great places to stop along your very OWN route. www.pillowsandpitstops.com will present a map crammed full of recommendations to suit you and will always mention if they are sympathetic to allergies.
We’d always love more suggestions of any little gems you’ve found too. But we do try to steer clear of chains. We support our local businesses!