After my son was diagnosed with food allergies, our traveling days came to an abrupt halt. To get back in the swing of things, we started slowly getting our feet wet by staying at the homes of close relatives . Gradually, we ventured out to hotels and condos. Today, we could probably camp out overnight with the contents of my purse! Traveling with food allergies does take more preparation but it’s worth it! If you’re feeling timid about taking food allergies on the road, here are a few tips to nudge you on your way.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
A lot of allergy moms shy away from plane travel but if you fly first thing in the morning, and carry on your child’s food and drink, it can be quicker and easier than driving. Check out the airline’s policy on peanut or other allergens and always make your reservation over the phone. You can explain your child’s allergies in detail. Bring your own meals, snacks and wet wipes, so that you will reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Make sure that your child’s Epi-Pen or Twinject is with you in its original packaging along with a letter from your doctor. We’ve never had anyone question my son’s medications, however, we did have the TSA agents confiscate several bottles of water that I had with us right after the restrictions on liquids went into effect.
Hotels and Condos and Relatives, Oh My!
If your child has multiple allergies, a hotel (or relative) with a kitchen is a must. I’ve heard of allergy moms making due with a refrigerator and a hot plate but I don’t recommend it. Vacation home condos are wonderful but often pricey. “Home-away-from-home” hotels, like the Residence Inn, are everywhere and most come with a full kitchen. Other hotels offer in-room refrigerators for a nominal charge or will store your cold or frozen foods if need be. We always request a non-smoking room, with foam pillows and no bedspreads on the bed. Several hotel chains offer “pure rooms” that are even more allergy friendly.
If you do plan to venture out for meals, it pays to do the legwork ahead of time. Get a good guide book or research restaurants online. Several restaurant chains, like Outback Steak house, specifically address food allergies on their websites along with their menu. I always ask to speak with a manager or chef when ordering as we’ve found that many times the wait staff is unsure about specific ingredients. Many moms I know swear by a chef’s card as another layer of communication. And when in doubt, bring a few extras with you just in case. Safe bread, margarine, salad dressing and a treat for dessert will save the day in a pinch.