Traveling with Food Allergies

For those of you who have followed my blog for the last couple of years, you know that we’ve been no stranger to travel despite 6 food allergies in our family. We’ve been to the US, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, England and Costa Rica. We’ve flown, ferried, and even dugout canoed through canals in Costa Rica to get to our final destination (and yes, there were alligators!).

These travels have not been without their stresses and pre-planning is definitely key. The vast majority of our trips had us staying with very supportive family members and/or renting suites that had a kitchen so that we could do all of our own cooking.

The most difficult trips for planning are those that have us moving daily and trying to catch meals on the fly. If any of you have tried to get a safe meal in an airport, you know the frustration of not having your own food at your fingertips. Well, Megan (4 food allergies) and I are leaving on Friday morning at 5:30 am for her band trip down the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. It’s definitely a challenge given that we are in a different place each night until we reach Anaheim, where we have 3 nights with our own fridge and microwave.

Luckily, I have spent lots of time in Washington and Oregon of late plus we’ve had 2 previous trips to Disney (which has been fantastic for food allergies) and one to Universal Studios (which was not a helpful place for food allergies) plus my oldest daughter went on the same trip 2 years ago so I know what to expect. As a result, we have got a suitcase of granola bars, granola, trail mix, cookies, crackers, chocolates, soup and utensils. I’ve also got granola bars for all of the kids on the bus so that they can have a safe snack when necessary without resorting to items with Megan’s 4 allergies in them. This is one time it comes in handy to own an allergy friendly food company!

We’re also attending Medieval Times so I’ve called them and they’ve sent a menu with all of the ingredient lists so that we can specify how to change her menu. I’m also checking for the gluten in the meals so this might get quite interesting.

I would say that the most difficult times are when everybody else is eating dessert and we can’t or when the tour goes to a chocolate factory in San Francisco and we can’t have any of the chocolates and fudge that the other kids will be buying by the truckload. I try to mitigate that unfairness with a bunch of safe Easter chocolates I’ve found and packed into the suitcase but I’m the first to admit it’s just not the same. It’s certainly easier when we travel as a family since we all eat the same for everybody’s allergies but in a group, you can’t ask the other kids not to eat their dessert.

So wish us luck as I navigate the food allergy highway, particularly with a bunch of junior high school kids!