Planning ahead is essential when traveling with children with food allergies. Having family members with severe nut and shellfish allergies and a son with food allergies, I know what it’s like to worry about what to eat and how to stay safe while away from home.
Here are 7 travel safety tips for children with food allergies:
1. Discuss Travel Plans With Your Family Doctor
Your doctor may suggest avoiding certain destinations if the risk for allergic reaction is too high.
Talk with your doctor about whether your child needs a Medic Alert bracelet and get a doctor’s note for any medication he/she prescribes to avoid delays at security checkpoints at the airport.
2. Make a Travel Medical Kit
Ensure you have enough medication and the proper medicine in your family’s travel medical kit (including antihistamines, inhalers and EpiPens). Check expiration dates on all medication in the kit and replace anything that has expired.
3. Make or Buy an Allergy Translation or Chef Card
An allergy translation card (also known as chef cards for restaurants) is essential to explain food intolerances or food allergies to chefs or wait staff while traveling abroad.
The Food Allergy Initiative has some great resources on where to find allergy translations cards.
4. Bring Your Own Food
In cases of severe food allergies, it’s safer to eat food from home rather than eat what is offered during the flight. Be careful that the food and drinks that you bring on board a flight follows TSA guidelines.
5. Pack Antibacterial Wipes
Consider bringing a pack of antibacterial wipes so you can wipe down shopping carts, strollers or other baby equipment (at theme parks or from baby equipment rental companies) and table tops.
If you’re flying, you can ask to be part of the pre-boarding group so you are given enough time to wipe down all surfaces – seat trays and armrests included.
6. Call Ahead and Inquire About Meal Options
If you know ahead of time where you’d like to eat, call the restaurant ahead of time and ask about meal options for your allergic family member.
Disney does a great job with food allergies. If you make reservations online for Disney World Restaurants, a chef will come out to talk to your family about what options there and how food will be prepared in the kitchen. This personalized service is a big reason why love Walt Disney World.
7. Let the Flight Crew Know
Sometimes, the flight crew will make an announcement or put your family in a “nut free” zone if you let them know before you board. We’ve been on flights with Air Canada and WestJet before when announcements were made before take-off informing us of passengers with severe nut allergies.
Our family doctor kindly reminded us that the way we travel will change a bit but there’s nothing to worry about. “Be careful, not fearful” were his exact words. With a bit of planning and careful research, traveling and cruising with kids with food allergies is possible.
Allergy Eats – List of allergy friendly restaurants around the US. Also available as a smartphone app
Anaphylaxis Canada – Travel tips for parents with children with food allergies
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) – Information about air travel with food allergies
Kids Health – Food Allergies and Travel
Do you have any other travel tips for families with food allergies?
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