It’s easy to be so intimidated by the thought of traveling with a child who is severely allergic to multiple foods that you just want to stay home. Believe me, I’ve been there.
But you don’t have to stay on lock-down this summer. With a little planning and research, you’ll be ready to GET OUT OF TOWN!
Pack enough food for you to get through at least the first day without needing to scramble to find a safe place to eat or shop.
Check online for restaurants in the area you’re travelling to. Look for chains that you know are allergy-friendly. If you always have a good experience at Outback, for example, find out if there’s one near where you’ll be staying. Of course, each restaurant is separately managed, and staff knowledge and accommodations can vary greatly so make sure to speak with a manager or chef before ordering.
On that note, always speak with a manager or chef when dining out with food allergies. Do not count on the server to correctly communicate your allergy situation to the cooking staff in the back. Just as restaurants vary in the way their managed, staff members in each restaurant may have different levels of understanding about allergies and their severity. You can get a MUCH better idea if a restaurant is safe by speaking directly with the manager on duty.
Consider using a Chef Card that lists all allergens and any cooking instructions for the staff. This can help reassure you that anything you tell the manager will certainly be communicated correctly. Foodallergy.org has a basic card that you can print out and write your specific allergens on here.
Visit AllergyEats.com to find safe restaurants where you’re going and read reviews about them. They even have a 5-star ranking system to rate allergy friendliness to each allergen for each restaurant. **And when you do eat out on your vacation (or at home, for that matter), come here and rate the places you’ve eaten at. It helps other people in our same situation find safe and friendly options.**
We always stay at a place with a kitchen, whether it’s renting a condo for a longer stay or finding a hotel that offers a small suite. Being able to cook your own safe food is a huge help when travelling. It’s a good idea to wash all of the dishes, pots & pans and utensils you’ll be using before you start cooking – you never know what was on them or how clean they got in their last washing. “Regular” folk might not be as completely OCD about cleaning food surfaces as we are. 😉
When you’re picking a place to stay, use Google Maps to check for local grocery stores. It may help you decide exactly where to stay.
Meds and Docs.
Of course you’ll have your usual meds on hand – EpiPens, Zyrtec, Benadryl, inhaler, nebulizer, whatever the case may be. But make sure you pack extra, especially EpiPens or any prescription meds that can’t be picked up at your local drug store. You don’t want to be without anything that important.
Check the distance and route to the nearest hospital. We never want to think that we may need one, but you’ve got to know where it is, and try to stay within a reasonable distance to it (or at least to an emergency clinic, if possible).
This is the only area I have no advice on, because I’ve never taken my daughter on a plane. She’s dying to take a plane trip, though, so I’m sure it won’t be long. But for now, I will refer you to this list of tips from foodallergy.org.
If your travel plans include theme parks, amusement parks, zoos, museums or anywhere else that you might consider eating at, call ahead to find out their food situation and allergy accommodations. But plan on packing a lunch just in case. (It’s cheaper anyway!)
The bottom line is GET OUT THERE and HAVE FUN! Just plan ahead a little and you’ll be fine.