June 25, 2013

Weekend Getaways: Food 101 for the Family with Food Allergies

For some, summer means travel.  I relish the lazy days close to home myself, but if we had the option to travel all summer long, I might very well consider it.  Unfortunately, for a food allergy family, traveling is a challenge with an enormous amount of planning involved.

With a severely food allergic child, I feel less and less comfortable eating out, especially when we're far from home.  I think I've got the Epinephrine to ER thing down pat when we're at home, but being on vacation with an allergic reaction is a different story all together.

So I try very hard to limit our restaurant eating and do as much preparing and cooking as I can.  We will be away this weekend for a rare mini getaway with the family, and although we will be within an hour from home, I still have a lot of planning to do.  Some tips to make the getaway more like a vacation and hopefully, less stressful:

1. If you can, book a hotel with a refrigerator at the very least, and for longer trips, some form of a kitchen or microwave is essential.  If there's no microwave in the room, there may be one available for use, like in the lobby.

2. Seek out the markets near your hotel before you go, and plan on making a few trips with a list of easy, allergy-friendly, low maintenance food options in hand.  Some forethought saves you time in the long run.

3. If there is a stove available, bring your own pots/pans and cooking utensils.  This cuts out the mystery and puts some of your cross-contamination worries at ease.

4.  Bring paper goods and disposable eating utensils.  No one likes to wash dishes on vacation, but this is especially important if all you have is a fridge.  An added bonus: kids can eat by the pool and not skip a beat!

5.  Bring drinks or water bottles and lots (and lots) of non-perishable snacks to pack for day trips, have by the pool, or satisfy a craving.  Some of our favorites are safe granola or breakfast bars, crackers, popcorn, fruit or fruit and gel cups (like Dole Fruit and Gel Cups), fruit leathers, seeds, and dried seaweed.

If you're a seasoned food allergy mama you likely already follow these guidelines religiously.  For those of you who might be starting out, know that you CAN have fun while on vacation.  And yes, we were the ones with the 8 grocery bags filled with food upon check-in, but we were also the ones who spent a fabulous 87 degree day by the pool.

Wishing you safe and happy travels this summer!


  1. Sarah, love how you take great mini holidays w/the ohana. I can sense and understand the fear. Nothing like home or being close to it. Do you also map where the nearest hospital is too in case of emergency?

    1. It's a really good idea to scope out the hospitals as part of the planning. Thanks for the reminder!

    2. It's a really good idea to scope out the hospitals as part of the planning. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. We've taken a few vacations over the past 3 years with my son with food allergies, and I'm still worried about upcoming vacations, even though I've done it before. It's stressful! Thanks for the great reminders.

  3. Kathryn, its definitely gotten easier as the kids have gotten older. The stresses of just having a tot aren't there anymore (naptime, all the gear, etc.), and their dietary preferences are thankfully expanding. There's always the prep and worry, but a few moments of relaxation makes it all worth it.