Traveling with Food Allergies

Traveling away from the safety of your own home can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it can be done with careful preparation and planning.  Not only is travel a way to bond as a family, but it also provides an opportunity for your child to safely venture outside of his or her comfort zone.  Each time we’ve taken a trip, I’ve seen a huge boost in my daughter’s confidence.

Planning:

Whether traveling by plane or car, it’s a good idea to investigate the following ahead of time:

  • The location of the nearest hospital ( I always like to be within 30  minutes of a hospital.)
  • How to call for emergency medical services
  • The location of supermarkets
  • Food Allergy Friendly restaurants (allergyeats.com)

If traveling by plane, you also will want to research the best airline to meet your needs.  (I prefer JetBlue.)

Booking:

The best scenario is to book a hotel with a kitchen, or to rent a house/condo/apartment.  (We’ve found that renting a house is actually less expensive and more enjoyable.  You can check VRBO.com or other similar sites for more info.)

Even if your hotel doesn’t officially offer amenities like a kitchen, call ahead and ask if they have a mini fridge and microwave available.  I haven’t found a hotel yet that hasn’t had one available upon request.

When booking your flight, notify the airline of your child’s food allergies and ask to pre-board.

We always book seats together so that we have a whole row or so that family members can flank our daughter with food allergies.  This is helpful because you can control what foods are around your child for the flight.

Travelling (by car):

Pack a cooler full of “safe” foods, wipes, and other necessities like utensils, can openers, paper plates, hand soap, etc…(I often use the wipes to clean surfaces in the hotel or home once we arrive.)

Mark good places to stop along the way to have a picnic, eat out,  or to take a break.

Travelling (by plane):

  • Pack airline-friendly foods for the trip in your carry-on.  I prefer to have my daughter eat only foods that I pack.
  • At the airport, notify the airline again of your child’s needs and request to pre-board.
  • Pre-board and wipe down all surfaces with wipes (Don’t forget to pull down the tray and wipe there too).
  • I also pack a crib sheet to put it over the plane seat.  There are seat covers you can purchase but I’ve found a crib sheet to work just as well.  This sheet can also be used in the car if you are renting one.
  • Bring all medication in your carry-on.  I always have 4 Epipens with me, and antihistamine. Sometimes doctors will also prescribe an oral steroid.  Be sure to have your doctor write a letter stating the need for your child have his or her medication with him at all times( in case security needs this).  I’ve never had anyone question the need for the medications even on international flights.  Also have prescriptions with you.

Once you are there:

Unpack.  Wipe down any surfaces that need cleaning (TV remotes, etc..).  Check the labels on any soaps or other items in the room.  Go shopping, if needed.  And, most of all, have fun!!!

Allergy Travel Checklist:

  • Epinephrine
  • Antihistamine
  • Doctor’s letter
  • Prescriptions
  • Chef Card
  • Medic Alert Bracelet
  • “Safe” foods
  • Change of clothes
  • Phone Numbers of Doctor, local hospital, etc..
  • Wipes
  • Crib sheet or seat cover for plane
  • Lunch Bag or cooler  (I always pack meals for the day so my daughter has food no matter where we happen to end up on our adventures.)

See the Mom Bag Post for more info and helpful links.

Best,

Gina

In my next post, I’ll provide tips for international travel.  It can be done!

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