Living with Food Allergies : Travel

March 18, 2015

Traveling around the world is one of my favorite things to do! Arizona took her first flight when she was 2 months old and we haven’t stopped since. Because of her insane amount of food allergies, however, traveling takes a lot of preparation and planning.

Here are my top 5 tips for traveling with a kid who suffers from food allergies :

  1. Bring a Doctor’s Note! Usually, airport security will let you through with a bottle or small container of milk (rice, almond, whole grain, soy or otherwise) for your infant.  However, as I learned the hard way, the cut off age for this is usually 2 years old.  Arizona had just turned 3 years old when we were traveling to Montreal, Quebec.  We brought some individual box drinks of rice milk, but were not allowed through security because our daughter was over 2 (and therefore, no longer an infant).  We learned that a doctor’s note stating her allergies (to dairy, in this case) would have helped.  I’ve been traveling with one ever since.
  2. Get a Kitchen. We make sure we have a kitchen wherever we travel.  This usually means renting a condo, apartment or house as opposed to booking a standard hotel room.  This can often times be more cost effective than a hotel.  For example, we booked a 3 bedroom house (with a private pool + yard + daily cleaning service) in Costa Rica for $120 / night.  Having a kitchen is necessary (and stress relieving) when you have allergies in the family.  Check out my favorite site for fun options.
  3. Send a Shopping List.  If you’re visiting family or friends, send a shopping list ahead of time. You will have food items in stock when you arrive and can avoid spending the first day of your vacation grocery shopping. Easy!
  4. Bring or Ship as much Food as you can! In our case, we always travel with Arizona’s favorite gluten free / dairy free / nut free / soy free snacks.  We even put big cartons of oat or rice milk in our suitcase and pray they don’t explode (they did once, on our way to Grand Cayman).  But, it’s easy to travel with pre-packaged goods : rice pasta, rice, quinoa, etc. (Hint : putting them in Tupperware helps tremendously).
  5. Research your Area. This may mean checking out the grocery stores (and their offerings), doctor’s offices and medical centers in the area ahead of time.  We once had to cancel a trip near the border of Panama because we realized the closest hospital (in case of medical emergency) was a 2 hour helicopter flight away from our lodging.

At the end of the day, food allergies shouldn’t restrict your travel completely!  It may be a bump in the road, but just a little one.

* This is the first in a series of “Living with Food Allergies.”  More topics coming soon!

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