I can’t remember a single trip I have embarked upon both with my kids alone or with Michael and them that has not required a lot of careful consideration. Years ago, mouth tingle after mouth tingle, lips swelling, hives and vomit right at our own kitchen table our lives forever changed.
Where Niko Travels was diagnosed with Severe and life-threatening food allergies. Foods that he was so accustomed to, and really liked, were swiped right out of his menu to life’s food options.
Traveling with my son, and the multiple food allergy list, proved challenging more than fun. Dining in restaurants as a family definitely pushed our tolerance of ignorance to the brim. We pretty much ceased dining out.
Then, we changed how we traveled, from airplane rides to lodging. All I can say is to have a child with severe and life-threatening consequences truly dims the light on venturing out.
Travel is all about being prepared ahead of the journey. Food allergies and travel require organized travel, and that means a few additional steps to keep your child safe and your blood pressure steady!
How To Travel With Food Allergies
*Updated August 2019
This article is applicable to adults and children alike. Since I advocate daily on my son’s behalf, I simply refer to him throughout. Adults newly diagnosed with food allergies, congratulations!
Guess what? You just found out why you have been sick with certain foods for so long and never knew! Truly it is a blessing more than a curse! I hope this article helps you as well!
For those of you traveling with your kids who have food allergies, my intent is to help you enjoy every moment of your trip and help your children learn how to advocate for themselves. Your kids will listen to you enough and eventually begin speaking up for themselves.
Truly food allergies are an educational process. Don’t allow what could be a ‘stress-free’ vacation to become bumpy over food. Consider food allergies while you are planning a vacation.
Spend a little time pre-planning your trip, and organize food, food dining locations and stores that might offer items he can eat.
Quick Overview On Where Niko Travels and Food Allergies
Where Niko Travels is allergic to so many different foods that the list of what he can eat is shorter than the list of what he can’t eat. Trust me, dining in or out is a challenge, but not something that is insurmountable, you just have to know WHAT to do.
Once we find an establishment that can service our family, we frequent it. We still use an abundance of caution when dining there, always checking and re-checking his food options with the Manager on Duty.
How Do You Work Around Food Allergies When You Travel?
Don’t cancel your trip or let fear take over. If we can travel with food allergies and many other tactile allergies you can too! Food allergies are horrible. Initially, they really do snap a bit wind out of the sai.
Once you conquer the mountain the first time, it is nothing more than a small hurdle the next. We have learned how to travel with food allergies over the last few years and while it is a lot of pre-planning, you can kick back and relax a bit once you get organized.
Food Allergy Card- Download this Card It’s Free
Download this card to communicate allergies to all restaurants and life flows easier. Carry it with you on every trip. Hand it to the server and the General Manager. This card is so helpful and it is FREE On my site!food-allergy-alert-card (1)
General Rules To Get You Started – Travel With Food Allergies
I guess the biggest thing I can tell you from all my experience with food allergies is that you never, ever can let your guard down. Always read labels, ask to see the bread bags (hidden ingredients are what get you).
In fact, I am always reading labels and worrying, but I do have a relaxed mode too! The good news is that Where Niko Travels has visited countries like Curacao, Aruba, Philipsburg, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, San Sebastian, USA (North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, Baltimore, Kentucky, etc) and has successfully filled his belly at great eateries!
What else? Disney, Universal, Holland America and even Carnival all care for those with food allergies!
The Bag – How To Travel With Food Allergies
The above bag can be seen with our son, everywhere he travels and if he forgets it we turn around and NEVER leave without it because we can’t. The bag is his lifeline and his tool bag in case of an incident.
Do you know that contact with a simple food allergen attack could potentially threaten the life of a child, who is plagued with severe food allergies? We are prepared for what I consider BATTLE.
Traveling With Food Allergies & What You MUST Have
While everyone’s food allergies are different, there are some general guidelines to follow when traveling to help your child not breach that wall of food safety. Remember I am not a Doctor, nor I am portraying that I am.
Rather, I am providing knowledge and education on how we travel with food allergies. Since I am a world-traveler, as well as travel and culinary travel writer, I have inside knowledge.
I am sharing that knowledge with you, after dining in any restaurant that we have found which can work around food allergies. Step into the restaurants, seek out the GM and describe your food allergies BEFORE you sit down.
You see, the one thing I have and you gotta have too in order to travel with food allergies and succeed: A VOICE. Never am I ashamed to ask for the manager. Nor am I worried what other people behind me or around me think.
Be bold, polite, short and contrite and figure out whether you can dine at the chosen place. Often I will call ahead and speak to the manager. Even if they can’t take reservations, I find out if that Manager will be on duty when we arrive at ‘x’ time and if not, could he/she PLEASE tell the incoming manager that we spoke.
Your voice is the middle man and difference-maker. Will your food be safely prepared, or will your night be spent in a Four Star hospital with a side of IV? Speak Up. Own it!
How To Travel With Food Allergies – Organization
First of all, the organization is key when you are trying to figure out how to travel with food allergies. You have to keep your life-saving medicines with you at all times. So, how did we prepare for our cruise as we were headed out of the country?
We made a list of all the possible things that could go wrong with our son’s health, things that have already gone wrong were first on the list, and then we thought of all the other possible scenarios.
Stop stressing and instead pack the necessities in case of emergency. Please remember, our child sees a specialist regularly because of the extent of his food allergies, as well as tactile and environmental allergies.
Our allergist has created a small checklist of particular medicines to manage specific symptoms, to try to shut down what could turn into an anaphylactic attack. If we miss our cues, we also carry our Anaphylactic pens to inject at any point in time.
In other words, it is not like we just have medicine prescribed. Anything we carry is because there are real reasons, real scenarios, and real incidents that have happened to us along the way so we now plan for as much as we can.
Unfortunately, previous experience no matter how daunting the circumstances were is the best education and WHY I can share this article today.
Food Allergies & Scenarios You Gotta Think Of
You are going on an excursion, off of a cruise ship! What fun. This particular excursion is through a little town which as a last stop allows you to have a bee encounter. Additionally, they have a honey sampling. After all, you won’t buy what you can’t try. Do Do you have severe bee allergies? Are you also allergic to honey? Avoid it! Find another option.
Everyone else is going to get off the bus, and visit, where will you be? It is a bee encounter moment, and you can’t even go out to take a picture because being stung could be fatal! Bees will be flying around and not just those honey bees! What decision will you make?
Food & Drink Where Trouble Lurks Within
Cookies passed out on a tour (while on a bus) as an included snack, or as part of a buffet-style dinner. I’d be willing to lay odds that those cookies have nuts in them and your night will be in the hospital, not in your hotel or ship bed! Say, NO to the cookies.
Eat nothing on the airplane provided by the air carrier other than beverages. Be safe. Avoid it all.
Are you allergic to seafood? Don’t touch fish in an aquarium, or consume anything that has seafood in the ingredients which include crackers and vitamins. Read the labels.
Fish (no touching animals like Sea Lions that have come in contact with fish, etc) We were in Puerto Vallarta and were offered the chance to touch a Sea Lion. Nope. No Way. Never. Additionally, salad dressings at restaurants have seafood in them as well. Go for Oil and Vinegar.
Craving fresh fruit? Don’t eat it if you have latex allergies and the piece you want has been sitting atop a banana, pineapple, etc.
Drinks are another shady area. If you have latex allergies, pear, pineapple and so forth are an absolute NO. Often these are ingredients in beverages. Instead, travel with a simple bottle of water.
Packing a Medical Bag and How To Travel With Allergies
We pack Benadryl, Zofran, Steroids, Inhalers, Advil, Latex Free Bandages, and Epi-Pens. Each has its own use in our home, and everyone uses these for different reasons. Our overview looks like this:
Zofran is for any food or tactile item that he came into contact with, that creates his ear lobes, cheeks, and lips to begin swelling, which always leads to unforgiving nausea.
This is a prescribed Medicine and is only used in emergency situations, which do tend to crop up, even when we are home and not on vacation.
Next is Benadryl. Benadryl has multiple uses for our child. When it is not an anaphylactic shock, and it is a reaction that contains itching, or simple swelling, we use Benadryl. Remember, this varies for everyone and every type of allergy.
Steroids. These were prescribed ahead of time in the case of latex poisoning, which leads to stomach cramping and severe asthmatic coughing. The Steroids tend to take the inflammation away, and then his health moves back to normal a bit quicker.
Epinephrine Pens. We never leave home without them. There is no way we can not control every scenario even though I plan and try, things happen, that are beyond our control. Food service people do not always listen and have made mistakes, even after we spoke with them one-on-one.
Latex-Free Bandages. Not all bandages are latex-free and when you have a latex allergy that would just add salt to a wound, so to speak.
I have a little check-off list I keep on my phone. In addition to one that I carry. The list has everything on it we need on it from the Dr.’s Number to what meds to take for what reaction. When Where Niko Travels is having an issue, I tend to get flustered. NO grade under pressure here!
How To Travel With Food Allergies & Dining Out
Dining out is the largest risk factor we take when we are on a vacation. Carnival Cruise Lines was exceptional at helping us plan my son’s meals out days before and during the trip.
We filled out detailed paperwork, checking off items that he was allergic too, and forwarded it back to our Cruise Ship. It is that easy. Once on the
Once on the Carnival Sunshine ship, we ate the first meal in the Restaurant and our Server talked with us about all the food allergies. Nightly, after our meal, Niko was presented with a menu for the next day.
Our son’s food order was set to go a day ahead and we knew they were taking perfect care of him, so that was a HUGE obstacle cured.
Now we had a few places in Disney that we loved while we were traveling there. I will tell you this however, it was suggested that we did not visit the Animal Kingdom since the animals dine on peanuts, yet another allergen we battle daily.
The head chef in Universal Orlando sent me a list of dedicated fryers(so he could eat fries). Further, the list shared where he could eat, nut-free, seafood free, etc. Dining in Universal was super easy for us.
It was absolutely amazing and easy! We simply looked at the map and planned our day around where he could snack and eat and he was one very happy little boy.
How To Travel With Food Allergies – Snacking
We have found it absolutely necessary to pack a bag of snacks with us that are known as the SAFE SNACK BAG, free of every known allergen to him. Take no chances with new places.
The Old Standby’s
Just because we have eaten somewhere one time, and it was safe, does not mean we Assume that he can dine there again. Alerting the manager is key. Discussing specifics with the food server is mandatory.
Expect to be turned away a few times and thank them! We have been turned away from places that use latex gloves and are unwilling to accommodate. Conversely, we have also been turned away from eateries who bring all their food in and can not tell you how it is prepared! This is good.
The best way to travel with food allergies is prepared! Organize and recognize that you have a huge responsibility ahead of you. Consider all the situations you have already lived through and learn through them. Get adequately prepared for possible future incidents. This is how to travel with food allergies, as we lavishly live life and travel out loud!