I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July celebration! It seems that this holiday kicks off the start of the summer travel season, and a lot of you have been contacting me about summer travel. As we know, getting to our destination can be tricky on an airplane. But what about when you get there? Or if you plan to drive? Restaurants are a part of travel and eating away from home needs a little more planning with food allergies.
Here are some tips to help you have a safe, fun summer trip with food allergies:
Do your homework. Research your location for restaurants that you know are safe and plan to visit them. You also want to know what types of eateries are available at your destination, so go to the city's web site and check out their offerings. If you aren't sure about a restaurant, call before you leave on your trip and ask them about their menu and practices. You will get a feel for the place and how they handle food allergies before you even set foot in the restaurant. This is a great way to head off problems before they can arise.
Consider your hotel accommodations. If it's possible to get a room with a refrigerator or a suite with a small kitchen area, this is ideal. The ability to give your child a few meals in the room will prevent you from having to deal exclusively with restaurants. It will also take a little of the pressure off and you'll have a more relaxing time.
One word: Picnic! Summer is the time for picnics, so why not make this a part of your trip? A visit to the local grocery store can also add some local color to your vacation and this way you'll be able to determine everything that your allergic family member will eat.
Make the most of allergy resources. For example, Allergy Eats and Allerdine are websites that have a list of restaurants and allergy ratings from consumers. Don't forget to add your own restaurant information to this website, whether good or bad.
Don't forget the safe treats from home. I usually bring along some home-baked cookies or several packaged treats that I know my daughter can eat, especially when driving to our destination. This saves a ton of time, money and worry. Who wants to scour a truck stop for a safe packaged treat when your kid is starving?
Make sure that you emphasize summer fun over food. One of the hardest things with our daughter's nut allergy is that we have to pass up the ice cream shops and sweets shops when we reach our destinations--they're not safe. Because of this, we really try to emphasize a special activity and the safe "summery" foods she can enjoy like certain candies, hot dogs and grilled foods.
Get the medical info in order. No one likes to think about it, but know where the hospital is and make sure it's not too far away. Also, bring an emergency action plan, several epinephrine auto-injectors and other meds (like antihistamine and asthma inhalers, if necessary), plus have your allergist's phone number at hand.
Most importantly, have fun! No, a food allergy doesn't take a vacation but it's important to get out and do things with your family. Make your plans, be cautious and then go out and enjoy.
Readers, any other tips? Let us know.