June 25, 2019
Managing Food Allergies on Vacation
Summer’s here! Time to break out the suitcases, stock up on snacks, and make some memories to last a lifetime.
If you’re a food allergy family, you know this is easier said than done. Just like in your day-to-day life, planning ahead is the name of the game when it comes to traveling with food allergies. The priceless memories are well worth the effort to keep everyone safe. Here are some tips to ease the stress:
Many people find it easier to travel within the US because of food allergy communication and awareness. But if you’re itching to enjoy a grand family adventure in a foreign country, it’s do-able. Consider language barriers and cultural understanding of food allergies when picking your itinerary. You can buy personalized allergy cards in dozens of languages. These are a tremendous help at communicating dietary restrictions. Make sure you are able to understand the staff’s response to your allergy needs, and listen to your gut if you don’t get a good feeling about food ingredients and preparation.
Nowadays, vacation rentals with kitchens are a mouse click away. These allow you to cook allergy-friendly meals and rest easy knowing for certain what’s in your food. Of course you can still eat out, but not having to do so three meals a day will ease the stress on you (and your wallet). If you prefer a hotel, extended stay/suite hotels usually have a kitchenette that will allow you to cook and store food in your room.
Wipe It Down
Ignore the looks! Bust out your disinfecting wipes and go to town! Planes can carry all kinds of allergen residue, so wipe down the seat, tray table, arm rests, and the entire seatback pocket. When eating out at a restaurant, do the same with the table. This is such a simple way to minimize risk of inadvertent allergen exposure.
Before you arrive at your vacation destination, research restaurants that kindly cater to patrons with allergy restrictions. Learn from those who have gone before you by checking out websites and apps where people rate and review restaurants based on how they handle allergy needs. Allergy Eats has a robust database of over 850,000 restaurants! Once you’ve found a few that seem to meet your needs, call ahead and speak with a manager to confirm the restaurant is a good fit. If they aren’t, better to know before you show up with hungry kids in tow.
Pack It, Ship It
Odds are, you have some safe staples that can fill in the gaps when you face uncertainty with food. If you have extra suitcase space, pack a lot of the items you know you can turn to in a pinch. Many hotels will let you ship a box ahead of time so it will be ready upon arrival. Another option is to research grocery and natural food stores in the area and make a quick stop when you get there.
No one knows or cares more about your family member’s allergy restrictions than you. When in doubt, just ask! Double or triple check with the server, manager, or chef. If you’re flying, call the airline to find out how they handle food allergies on board. Then speak with the gate agent and flight attendants when you get to the plane. Never feel bad about doing your best to ensure you do not end up in an emergency situation.
Bring more medication (antihistamines, epi-pens, etc.) than you think you’ll ever use. It can be hard to find just what you need in an unfamiliar place, and you do not want to get in a bind. Keep everything within arm’s reach at all times, whether you’re in route to your destination or are doing the tourist thing. Print out a pediatrician’s note on food allergies plus an emergency action plan. Keep these with the medications in case you need to explain why you must carry everything with you.
In Case of Emergency
Hopefully if you note the address and phone number of the closest emergency medical facility, you will never need this information. When traveling abroad, make sure you know how to reach emergency services ahead of time. This is not something you want to have to Google during a stressful situation.
Do not let food allergies keep you from exploring the world. With some planning and preparation, you can take your family on the road for some memorable adventures!