Coping When Traveling with Food Allergies
Traveling in itself is often challenging enough, but when traveling with food allergies planning is essential to ensure enjoyable holiday travel. Here are some valuable tips to get you off to a good start.
Prepare enough safe snacks to get you to your destination. Keep the snacks and your child’s medications in a bag or container you’ll have handy in the car, in your train seat, or on the flight. Bring a day’s worth of extra doses just in case of delays. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires compliance with regulations on liquids. Passengers are allowed to bring their epinephrine auto-injectors (Epipen® or Auvi-Q™ on board the aircraft. However, you will need to show the printed label that identifies the medication. It is recommended that you also show the prescription label from the pharmacy and a note from your doctor that confirms your food allergy. Be sure to bring your own epinephrine auto-injectors with a few extras just in case.
It is also a good idea to carry a phone list of your food-allergic child’s doctors and an emergency contact number of someone near home who could answer questions about your child if you become ill and are unable to speak for them.
If you are traveling by plane, it is good to know that it’s okay to bring your own food with you on a flight — even an international flight. As long as you don’t pack any liquids or gels over 3 ounces, you won’t have issues with airport security. You should check with TSA, but if your child needs a special liquid during a flight, a note from your allergist will usually smooth the way. You can bring homemade meals, safe packaged foods, even fresh fruit and vegetables to snack on during your flight. But, remember that customs usually prohibits bringing fresh produce into a foreign country, so be sure to finish your treats during the flight or toss them in the trash before landing.
If you are not staying with relatives during your travels, it’s convenient, even preferable, if your hotel room is equipped with a kitchenette or a full kitchen. If that’s not an option, a refrigerator and microwave is the second-best alternative.
Despite your efforts to cook “safe” foods while you’re away, your vacation will probably include some dining out. Try to avoid buffets and cafeterias as cross contamination could be a problem for children with food allergies.
With proper planning, your food-allergic child will never feel left out—or hungry—when you’re traveling, whether it’s a holiday vacation or a family get-together.