5 Tricks to Traveling with Food Allergy

travelAre you planning to take a trip with your food sensitive child?  It’s easy to fall into the trap of hiding at home and never doing the fun things.  But, the truth is, people with food allergies travel all the time.  And you can, too! 

Here are some tips to help make your next trip more enjoyable:

1. Plan ahead.

Check out the area you are visiting BEFORE you leave for your trip.  Where will you be staying (hotel?), how are you traveling (car or air?), what are you doing?  All these things are important factors in having a good time, but also in ensuring that you have the proper foods available to care for your family.

2. Take food with you.

When you go to a new place, you will be shopping in unfamiliar territory.  Nothing is worse than trying to negotiate a new grocery store with hungry children when you have to read EVERY single label before you can put an item into your cart.  We like to take enough food with us to get to our destination plus the next meal.  This keeps the hungry monsters from getting the best of us.

3. Take your must-have items with you whenever possible.

My younger daughter can drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, but not pasteurized milk.  This is very hard, or downright impossible to find away from home.  Obviously, we cannot bring this with us on a plane, but when we travel by car, we bring this with us.

3.  Take at least one cooler with you.

At the very least take a lunch box sized cooler along that will let you bring the meal (or two) that you need for a day’s excursion.  It’s harder to plan where you will be at what time when you are not at home.  We have a backpack style cooler that I often use as my purse when we are traveling.  It’s not the most fashionable, but it keeps my hands free to hold on to my girls or to just enjoy our day.

4. Take tools with you.

This goes back to number 1.  What items will be there waiting for you at your destination?  What do you need/want to make life a bit easier?  When we visited Disneyland a few years ago, we brought along our crockpot.  This let me prepare dinner while the girls were finishing up their breakfast.  We came back at dinner time, sat down and ate, and were back in the park to catch the evening parade and shows without having to risk being exposed to any food triggers.

5. Take your emergency kit with you.

OK, so this one is a no-brainer…and yet, I have left on many a trip without one!  So, bring your emergency kit, or you may end up with an emergency trip to your local emergency room, or big box store on your next vacation!

6. Practice communicating your needs before you go.

Most restaurants are willing to accommodate special dietary needs, when they are able.  Some restaurants are cooking food that is prepared off-site and may not be able to make alterations.  Always ask before you order anything.  This will make it easier to walk out if you don’t feel comfortable with the response you get from your server or manager.  Try eating out at a restaurant near home first so that you can confidently enjoy a meal in a restaurant on your next trip.  For help finding restaurants that are good for your special needs visit Allergy Eats for allergy-specific restaurant reviews.

I hope you can see that traveling with food allergy or intolerance is possible with a little bit of planning.  Take care to make sure that you are safe, and then have fun on your travels!

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