I'm so excited to share the following guest blog post with you from Jennifer Roeder, Director of Marketing and Media Communications for FAAN, The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. I have met Jen a couple of times at FAAN conferences, including the most recent one in Chicago and she kindly offered to write a guest post. As someone who not only works with FAAN in a dynamic capacity, but as someone who deals with dietary restrictions herself, Jen gives us some valuable insights on summer travel with food allergies. She also shared this great picture of herself with her husband Mark on a recent vacation. Thanks to Jen (and FAAN) for all you do!
School’s out for summer! And that means summer vacations are in full swing. Traveling with food allergies presents unique challenges, but with advance planning, it can be done.
While I don’t have a life-threatening food allergy, I do have to avoid all milk and gluten products due to my own medical conditions, so I always have to plan ahead to make sure that I have access to safe foods when traveling.
My husband and I enjoy traveling. Earlier this year we traveled with my parents, and next week we are headed to North Carolina with my husband’s parents to enjoy some time at the beach. Here are some of the preparations I make when traveling, as do others who are avoiding certain ingredients:
1. Pack safe food and snacks. There are certain foods that are hard for me to find substitutes for such as yogurt, butter, pasta, and bread. These substitutes are certainly easier to find then they were 15 years ago, but when you are traveling to an unfamiliar location you don’t always know what the grocery stores will carry. When traveling by plane, I always have one bag with food staples and snacks. It works out nicely that you eat the food while you are on vacation and then have a bag to bring home souvenirs. When driving to a vacation destination, I pack a cooler and a bag with food to make sure that I have enough food to eat on the drive, plus some cooking essentials for the week. I have also heard from people that they ship food to their destination in advance. The method of getting the food to vacation may vary, but one thing is for sure – vacation is much more enjoyable when you know you won’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat.
2.Reserve a hotel room with a kitchen or kitchenette. With food allergies and intolerances, many of us feel safest eating food that we or family members have cooked. Having access to a kitchen makes it that much easier.
3.Research local restaurants. Many hotels and resorts have a wonderful concierge staff that knows the local restaurants. On several trips I have found wonderful restaurants I would never have known about without their help.
4.Bring your medicine. It is always important to have your medicine in case of an allergic reaction. Before traveling, make sure to double-check the expiration dates of all medicine you are packing, and talk to your doctor if you need extra.
5. Find the location of emergency medical care. We hope you won’t need it, but it is better to know the location of emergency medical care and never need to use it than need it and not know where to go.
The key to traveling with food allergies and intolerances is planning ahead. Here is to a safe and enjoyable summer. It’s time for me to start packing!