What Precautions to Take If Traveling with An Allergic Child?
Created by Parentune Support Updated on Jul 22, 2021
Most of us love to travel but some of us face the challenge of having Food allergies, but we should not let that decide our travel. As we grow older the feelings of awkwardness and worry about the food allergy fades. We don't hesitate to ask questions about food, no matter where we are. We know for a fact that ignoring signs of food allergy could lead to a bad reaction — and draw a lot more attention to us, not to mention put us in some serious (and vacation-wrecking) danger. The issue is magnified when it is our children who have food allergies and they need to travel but a well-thought off-plan can help in aiding to keep your worries for your children at bay.
What If Travelling with Food-Allergic Child?
Get Your Mind Ready
- Planning a trip can be stressful for anyone. But people with food allergies may feel particularly anxious about leaving their familiar home environments. It's easy to understand why: Not only do people have to stay safe in a new place, but they also have to handle any social concerns that arise, like asking for special accommodations, avoiding certain activities or places, or explaining the need to prepare and eat their own food.
- Even among friends, people can sometimes feel embarrassed or uncomfortable raising food allergy concerns. So it's natural to worry that it might feel even more awkward in a new environment or culture.
- Perhaps the best way to boost confidence and calm nerves is to research and plan your trip thoroughly. -Think ahead. Instead of trying to push worries aside, use them as a guide to prepare yourself for the kinds of situations you and your child might face in a new place. Remind yourself that your anxiety is real — and understandable.
- You already know how to manage the food allergies that your child has — you do it every day. The strategies that help you cope at home can work well on trips too.
- If you're traveling overseas, talk to someone who understands the country's traditions and culture to get tips on how to manage your child's allergy and still fit in.
- If someone other than you or your family (like a teacher or friend's parent) is organizing your trip, be sure that person is clear on what are the special needs of your child. Be sure that he or she understands enough about food allergies to look out for your child. [Check this: Why Food Allergy in Breastfeeding Babies & What You Can Do?]
Get Your Plan Ready
Planning ahead can help you feel less anxious about what could go wrong and more excited about the adventure ahead. Start a couple of weeks to a month in advance by making a detailed to-do list. List each of the tasks below — along with any others your doctor or nurse educator recommends — starting with the one that needs to be done farthest in advance.
- Choose where to go. For people with food allergies, deciding on a destination might take some extra thought. For example, if your child has a peanut allergy, some places, like a remote village in Thailand, might be riskier than others. It's wise to discuss travel options with your doctor before making any final decisions.
Check prescriptions. Discuss travel plans ahead of time with your allergist to be sure you have all the medicines you need, from antihistamines and inhalers to epinephrine injectors. Don't plan to rely on local pharmacies for your prescriptions — medications may not be the same overseas. Instead, take your meds with you.
If your insurance company or pharmacy limits how much of a prescription you can fill at once, a letter from a doctor explaining the situation may allow an exception to their policy. Also, if you're traveling by airplane or train, ask your doctor to write a letter authorizing you to carry your medicine to prevent potential confusion/delays at security checkpoints.
- Research local hospitals and medical care. Before you go, find out where local emergency medical help is and how long it will take you to get there. That way, if you need emergency care, you'll know your options.
- Research grocery stores, restaurants, and accommodations. Well ahead of your visit, find out which grocery stores (if any) at your destination carry allergen-free products, which restaurants seem to be "allergy-aware," and which hotels offer rooms with a kitchen. Support groups and food allergy web sites can often be helpful, whether you're traveling within the country or internationally.
Always Research Transportation
If you're sharing a car, let your traveling companions know about the food allergy. If you're traveling by train, bus, or plane, find out about their policies and services. Do they serve snacks that contain ingredients you're allergic to? Is emergency medical help available?
For air travel, research airlines in advance. Some airlines are more accommodating than others when it comes to food allergies. Call and discuss your needs well before you make reservations. Ask for a safe snack, but bring your own food along just in case.
Carry Enough Medicines
Keep your meds in your hand luggage so they're easily available. Also, keep your food allergy emergency action plan in your bag. It should be signed by your doctor and describe the allergies you have and the treatment you need. Wrap and pack your meds carefully so they don't get crushed or leak.
Washing your hands frequently and keeping them away from your mouth, nose, and eyes is a great way to prevent accidentally coming into contact with allergens. But when you're traveling you can't count on having access to soap and running water. A good supply of hand wipes ensures that you can clean your hands as well as wipe around seating areas on planes, trains, buses, and other forms of transportation where contact with allergens is likely.
Always Pack Safe Food
If you can, bring enough safe food to see you through at least the beginning of your trip. Of course, how much you bring will depend on where you're going and how long you'll be traveling: If you're in an area where you cannot easily purchase or order allergen-free food, stock up on your food supply. If you're someplace where you can buy and prepare what you need, pack less. If you're traveling internationally, you may not be able to read labels at local grocery stores. Again, it's best to bring a sizeable supply of safe food with you. [Read this - Watch-out Complimentary Food Allergens that May Affect Your Baby]
Staying alert, taking precautions, and carrying meds are just part of normal life for someone with a food allergy. Once you've done it once or twice, traveling with food allergies feels perfectly routine also. You feel less like you're "traveling with food allergies" and more like you're simply "traveling."