How to Travel with Kids with Food Allergies

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Many parents who have a child with severe food allergies opt not to travel because they fear a negative allergic reaction away from home. Our lives changed forever when we discovered our daughter, Chloe, has severe allergies to milk, egg, wheat, and peanuts. My husband and I have always loved to travel and we can’t imagine giving up visiting faraway friends and family and seeing the world with our children. Travel with a food-allergic child is possible. It just takes preparation, communication, and vigilance! Here's how to travel with kids with food allergies.

How to travel with kids with food allergies

How to travel with kids with food allergies (Photo credit: encrier, Depositphotos.com)

Road Trips with Kids with Food Allergies

Before long road trips, I pack a bag full of “Chloe-safe” snacks such as fruit, safe store-bought pretzels, juice boxes, raisins, and homemade muffins. I also pack a “Non-safe” bag of travel snacks because, let’s face it, it’s not always possible to please everyone with Chloe-safe choices.

On the road, we have learned which convenience foods and fast-food items are safe. Cross-contamination is also an issue – we can’t just pull ham out of a sandwich. Usually, safe snacks are of the “potatoes fried in oil” variety, such as plain potato chips or french fries. These aren’t the healthiest options, but if it comes down to unsafe but healthy, or unhealthy but safe, I’ll take the second choice!

Pack safe foods for road trips with kids with food allergies

Pack safe foods for road trips with kids with food allergies (Photo credit: Wavebreakmedia, Depositphotos.com)

Dining Out with Kids with Food Allergies

In restaurants, I communicate with the server extensively and politely. Often the chef will make something special, especially in fancier places.

If traveling to a foreign country, you can purchase Select Wisely food and travel translation cards. These handy cards are available in a numerous languages to make it easy to tell wait staff about food allergies or other dietary restrictions.

Dining out with kids with food allergies is possible with preparation and caution

Dining out with kids with food allergies is possible with preparation and caution (Photo credit: shalamov, Depositphotos.com)

Air Travel with Kids with Food Allergies

The food allergy community is very concerned about airlines serving peanuts on flights, and rightly so! Some people are so allergic to peanuts they will go into anaphylaxis just by breathing in or making skin contact with peanut dust. Thankfully our daughter is not that allergic but she still cannot eat the pretzels or other airline snacks. Therefore we are sure to bring our own snacks onboard.

Airline travel presents families with food allergies another challenge: getting through security with medicines. In a sturdy zippered pouch that lives in my purse are Chloe’s Benadryl and Epi-Pens in original packaging, along with a copy of the food allergy treatment plan signed by her physician. I remove all of these and show them to the agents as we move through the security line. Only once have we been stopped so the officials could test a partially-used bottle of Benadryl.

On our recent trip to Europe, what concerned me most was the long flight. What if something happened in the air over the Atlantic? That was the only time I felt the need to inform the flight attendant of Chloe’s allergies. On domestic flights we don’t bother. The flight attendant appreciated our preparation and communication. She said, “You would not believe how many parents expect us to come to the rescue when their kid has a reaction!”

Take precautions when flying with kids with food allergies

Take precautions when flying with kids with food allergies (Photo credit: AChubykin, Depositphotos.com)

Explore the World with Kids with Food Allergies!

Our travel experiences with Chloe have been very positive because we are proactive. We understand the nature of her allergies and make careful choices based on this information. Traveling with a child who has food allergies requires some extra planning, but the rewards of seeing loved ones and exploring the world together as a family is well worth it!

Want to learn more about travel with kids with food allergies? Read this story on Tips for Traveling with Kids with Life Threatening Food Allergies.

Do you have any questions or tips for travel with kids with food allergies? Let us know in the comments!

Kate and Chloe posing beside a statue of Sacagawea and Jean Baptiste at Fort Clatsop, Oregon in 2009 (Photo credit: Kate Newmyer)

Kate Newmyer is the author of Chloe’s Food Allergies, a blog about dealing with the emotional and logistical aspects of parenting a food allergic child. She and her husband, Daniel, love to travel with their two children, Andrew and Chloe, along with their nephew, Morgan Hart. Chloe had her first anaphylactic reaction and was diagnosed with severe food allergies at 8-months-old.

Comments
  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Thanks for your insight on traveling with a child who has food allergies, Kate! I’m so glad you have figured out how to continue to travel with your family while keeping Chloe safe!

  2. Matt O'Hara says:

    A really useful tool I’ve used when travelling at home and abroad with allergies, is a mobile application called ‘SOS4Life – Health Records’. Allows you to store all your allergy and health information in one place and can also translate it into numerous languages.

  3. Kate, I don’t want to make this a commercial, but having found myself in a similar situation with my 2 food allergic childen (of 5 total), I developed AllergyEats (www.allergyeats.com). AllergyEats is an online guide to allergy-friendly restaurants. It is peer-to-peer based so it relies on all of us in the community to input our experiences in order to generate a fair “allergy-friendliness” rating. The site isn’t even 2 months old yet, so you’ll see a lot of regions with no rating, but a quick search of Boston will already show over 150 ratings. I think this demonstrates the viral nature of the site and the fact that many of us in the community believe that we will be rewarded for sharing our experiences. Rating a restaurant takes less than a minute and requires simply answering 3 questions. Even with less than 2 months under our belt, AllergyEats has gained a tremendous number of ratings and has great momentum. However, there is a LARGE universe of over 600,000 restaurants in the US!

    I hope you’ll take a look at the site. If you like it, please pass the word on to others. If you have questions or criticisms, please share them with me at antico@allergyeats.com.

    Thank you.
    Paul

    • Cassie Roth says:

      Paul, I LOVE Allergy Eats…and thank you so much for the site and app! We love to travel and we love to eat so it has definitely made adapting to our new lifestyle much easier!

  4. Check out http://www.FoodAllergiesToGo.com for food allergy specific restaurant reviews. We love to travel and have a 23 year old son with multiple food allergies, so we’ve been sharing experiences for years.

    Ann@FoodAllergiesToGo.com

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