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.
I now carry an EpiPen, Children’s Benadryl, Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes and disinfectant wipes with me at all times.
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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Thanks for these awesome travel tips for families with allergies! I love those select wisely cards.
Great post!!! Having a daughter with a severe peanut allergy, means we have to take extra caution everywhere we go, travelling or not, and these are excellent tips 🙂 I think that’s an AWESOME idea about the translation cards! I will definitely keep that in mind when we travel anywhere that would need them 🙂
One of my siblings has a severe peanut allergy as well and when she went to Thailand she got a local to write everything down for her on a card. Definitely a great idea if travelling to a foreign country and you don’t speak the language.
What a great idea for the translation card!
Wonderful post, thanks for sharing this great info!
Manager to Mom says
Agree with the other comments – the allergy translation / chef card idea is brilliant. Never heard of this before.
Little Miss Kate says
Great idea with the translation card. I had not thought of that before.
Whispered Inspirations says
The chef card is amazing! I’m lucky enough to not have allergies in the family but, these are awesome tips! 🙂
Renee @mysocalledmommylife says
Great list! I have severe allergies and when travelling on a plane I call the airlines to let them know about my allergies. Usually they wont serve foods that i am allergic too and usually do an extra clean before the passengers get on the plane. Its worth the call! I love the allergy cards!
That’s a great tip Renee. I never thought of calling the airlines to let them know ahead of time about allergies. I will have to suggest that to my sister and cousins as they have severe food allergies and some airlines still hand out snack packs of peanuts!
eileen at FamiliesGo! says
Great tips. The chef’s card is a great idea.
Darlene Schuller says
Excellent tips thanks for sharing!
Also, if you go to the EpiPen website, you can register your child’s EpiPen, and they will send a helpful travel pouch for free. It takes a couple of weeks, but it is great.
Thanks for that tip Jenny. We will definitely be needing a travel pouch for him once he starts school.
Sally@Toddlers on Tour says
You can also contact your airline BEFORE travelling and order a special meal. Not only do airlines cater for Child meals and vegetarians they do cater for all types of food allergies. It’s just important you do this a few days BEFORE travelling as it’s too late for them to organise once you get to the airport.
Great tip Sally. We have only been on short haul flights with our kids and pack our own snacks. It’s great to hear that airlines cater for all types of food allergies.
Elizabeth Matthiesen says
I am very lucky in that neither I, nor any of my family, suffer from allergies. It is so important that people know how to protect themselves and their loved ones, so I think this post is fantastic and a big help to them.
Jody D says
Great information. At least we only had to deal with pollen related allergies as a family, but for the ones with severe allergies in children then need all our help and support.
Maggie K. says
I don’t have any tips. I think that those translation cards are a wonderful idea. I am thankful that so far my son doesn’t seem to have any allergies to food. Hayfever – well both my husband and I have that so he’ll probably get it.
Lisa @bitesforbabies says
Such great ideas-I can’t even imagine traveling with kids who have severe allergies. You always have to be on guard! I myself always bring Benadryl when I travel abroad-I have allergies (I believe autoimmune because I can’t find the culprit) and they occur sporadically so it’s always better to be safe than sorry 😉
Love your tips, its really important to be prepared in case anything happens.
elaine schoch says
My daughter has a peanut allergy, it has definitely changed how we order food. I love the idea of the chef card. I’ll be making one of these….
Kate Logan says
My kid is pretty much a little man. But I’ll take note of this since my poor little kiddo have peanut and dairy allergies. I just wish he’ll outgrow it though. Allergy Easy
Excellent tips. It’s given me a bit of confidence before my big trip abroad 🙂
Hazel Owens says
I like your tip to talk to your family doctor before going on a trip if your child has allergies. Like you said, your doctor will be able to tell you if certain areas would be too dangerous for your child, and they can give your child a prescription or note to get through the airport more smoothly. I also like your tip to have an allergy translation card so you can ask any chefs about their ingredients. Thanks for the article.