I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July celebration! It seems that this holiday kicks off the start of the summer travel season, and a lot of you have been contacting me about summer travel. As we know, getting to our destination can be tricky on an airplane. But what about when you get there? Or if you plan to drive? Restaurants are a part of travel and eating away from home needs a little more planning with food allergies.
Here are some tips to help you have a safe, fun summer trip with food allergies:
Do your homework. Research your location for restaurants that you know are safe and plan to visit them. You also want to know what types of eateries are available at your destination, so go to the city's web site and check out their offerings. If you aren't sure about a restaurant, call before you leave on your trip and ask them about their menu and practices. You will get a feel for the place and how they handle food allergies before you even set foot in the restaurant. This is a great way to head off problems before they can arise.
Consider your hotel accommodations. If it's possible to get a room with a refrigerator or a suite with a small kitchen area, this is ideal. The ability to give your child a few meals in the room will prevent you from having to deal exclusively with restaurants. It will also take a little of the pressure off and you'll have a more relaxing time.
One word: Picnic! Summer is the time for picnics, so why not make this a part of your trip? A visit to the local grocery store can also add some local color to your vacation and this way you'll be able to determine everything that your allergic family member will eat.
Make the most of allergy resources. For example, Allergy Eats and Allerdine are websites that have a list of restaurants and allergy ratings from consumers. Don't forget to add your own restaurant information to this website, whether good or bad.
Don't forget the safe treats from home. I usually bring along some home-baked cookies or several packaged treats that I know my daughter can eat, especially when driving to our destination. This saves a ton of time, money and worry. Who wants to scour a truck stop for a safe packaged treat when your kid is starving?
Make sure that you emphasize summer fun over food. One of the hardest things with our daughter's nut allergy is that we have to pass up the ice cream shops and sweets shops when we reach our destinations--they're not safe. Because of this, we really try to emphasize a special activity and the safe "summery" foods she can enjoy like certain candies, hot dogs and grilled foods.
Get the medical info in order. No one likes to think about it, but know where the hospital is and make sure it's not too far away. Also, bring an emergency action plan, several epinephrine auto-injectors and other meds (like antihistamine and asthma inhalers, if necessary), plus have your allergist's phone number at hand.
Most importantly, have fun! No, a food allergy doesn't take a vacation but it's important to get out and do things with your family. Make your plans, be cautious and then go out and enjoy.
Readers, any other tips? Let us know.
I am an adult with tree nut and peanut allergies. I was recently dismayed when my favorite airline changed their policy-they used to agree not to serve any nuts on board and to announce my allergy to the entire plane. Now, they will only tell one row in front of me and one row behind me about my allergy, and they will still serve nuts. So, I ordered some "buisness" cards online. I personalized them with a message that explained my allergy and asked passengers on my flight to please refrain from eating nuts. I passed out my cards to all the passengers at my gate with a friendly "thank you". It worked really well. People came up to me and gave positive comments. Even the flight crew said it was a good idea. When the man across from me got a bag of almonds with his meal, he made it a point to tell me he'd eat them later, after he got off the plane. You can google "buisness cards", I used zazzle.com, or you can print them on your own computer if you're the technological type.
Lisa in Boston
This is a great suggestion! I really appreciate that you took the time to comment because it helps point out that many adults also have peanut and tree nut allergies, not just kids.
Your business cards a such a brilliant idea. Readers, let's try this! I think when presented in such a way, most airline passengers will be respectful and helpful. I love it! Thanks so much for commenting!
Jenny and Lisa
I will borrow this "business card" idea on our travel tomorrow, and I will let you know how it goes :)
Great article, like many allergies, specially on kids, it's important to let other people know about it. I, for eg, have killing allergy to Peniciline, so I have to carry a badge in my neck in case I had an emergency. I know it's not the same, but in kids it may help before a person gives them something with peanuts.
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