Traveling with children can be stressful. Add an allergy to the mix and it can be downright terrifying. With proper planning and by following our tips, you’ll be on your way to staying safe when traveling with allergies. Read on to find out more and get ready to start planning your next adventure.
Staying Safe When Traveling With Allergies
My daughter is now seven, and I have been learning about staying safe when traveling with allergies since she was a baby. Not every trip has gone smoothly. As I continue to take her on new adventures, I constantly learn new ways to keep her safe. I have tackled her allergies at amusement parks like Walt Disney World, all inclusive resorts like Nickelodeon Punta Cana and even on an African safari. Here’s what I know about staying safe when traveling with allergies.
1. Before Booking Travel, Talk to Your Doctor or Allergist
Depending on the allergen in question, there are some places that will require extra caution when visiting. A quick example is visiting Asia with a peanut allergy. It is best to practice staying safe when traveling with allergies closer to home. Once you have some experience and feel more comfortable, you can begin booking more exotic destinations. No destination is impossible. Proper advice on what to avoid will make your trip more enjoyable.
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
2. Get Travel Insurance
The reality with travel is that not everything will go exactly as planned. Having travel insurance will not only provide reassurance that your family will be safe, but also can save you a lot of money. Charlie had a severe allergic reaction after coming into contact with milk while we were out of the country. By the time we arrived home, we were also out more than $5000 US dollars. Being prepared is key to staying safe when traveling with allergies.
3. Research Where You are Going
There is a huge community of travelers who travel with allergies. Many are openly sharing their experiences at hotels, restaurants, and destinations online. Here at TravelingMom.com, you can find out how to sweet talk your way into a safe flight, what hotels best accommodate allergies, and even how to take a kid who is allergic to chocolate to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Another great resource is AllergyEats.com. Travelers and locals rate restaurants on their ability to deal with allergies, staff knowledge and willingness to accommodate.
4. Carry An Allergy Card
In my experience, the easiest way to explain an allergy at a restaurant is to present an allergy card. My favorite resource SafeFare.org provides customizable allergy cards for every major food allergen in 8 different languages. We have used the cards in several countries over the past few years with great success. Always bring a few extra and laminate the cards to increase durability.
5. Always Plan Ahead
Planning ahead makes staying safe when traveling with allergies a lot easier. I have found that the most frustrating travel days have been when I have assumed Charlie could easily find something safe to eat. Due to the fact that she is allergic to soy, this can prove difficult even in North America. Planning ahead for us often means calling restaurants to see what oils they use and if they are able to provide a detailed list of allergens. It also means packing her a second lunch or dinner in case our plans fall through. Planning ahead is also very important when taking someone else’s kid on your family vacation who has special dietary needs.
6. Go With Your Gut
Staying safe when traveling with allergies means going with your gut and asking a lot of questions. I’ve learned over the past seven years in speaking to servers and managers that this is okay. While some restaurant or hotel staff may feel inconvenienced, taking up their time is less inconvenient that having to deal with an allergic episode. If a server seems disinterested or you have a feeling that the situation won’t be handled carefully, ask for a manager or simply leave. There are plenty of restaurants that will happily provide good service and ensure everyone is safe.
When food is delivered, always take the extra step of inspecting it yourself. Recently, a dairy-free pasta was served to Charlie with a hidden surprise of parmesan cheese mixed in. I quickly spotted it and sent the meal back.
7. Pack Enough Medicine and Don’t Be Afraid to Use It
The reality is that the further you travel from home, the more difficult it is to get proper medicine. Always check the expiration dates on Epi-pens and make sure that the liquid is not colored. If you are unsure, bring your Epi-pens to a pharmacist for further examination. Carry more than one Epi-pen at all times and keep them on you while traveling.
When traveling with antihistamines like Benadryl, I prefer to bring an unopened bottle on flights. Although open medicine is allowed through airport security, I find the risk isn’t worth the cost of a new bottle. Finally, at the first sign of an allergic reaction, medicate your child as instructed by your doctor. Do not wait.
8. Pack Treats and Comfort Foods
Traveling can easily knock children out of their comfort zone. A child who is also worried about allergies may need a little extra attention on the road. I often bring or ship Charlie’s favorite safe snacks to our destination. For flights, I make sure to stock up on Surf Sweets. Surf Sweets offer a variety of candies made and packaged in a facility free of the 10 most common food allergens. They also happen to be downright delicious.
Staying Safe When Traveling With Allergies
Planning a trip with food allergies takes a little extra work but can still be quite fun. Finding a way to safely introduce your kids to new places and foods makes life a lot more enjoyable. Many TravelingMom writers are dealing with a range of allergies and planning travel on a daily basis. Follow the tips in this guide to staying safe when traveling with allergies and check back to see what destinations and hotels have best accommodated our families.