Traveling with Children Who Have Allergies
Do you have a child who suffers from allergies? Do those allergies keep you from traveling? This is a typical reaction from parents trying to manage their children's allergies. Having food allergies does not have to stop you and your children from discovering the world. There is so much to see, it would be a shame not to see what the world has to offer.
From an early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of traveling. My first trip, at the age of two, was to Florida. My mother and grandmother decided to just pick up and go. This was pre-internet, pre-Epi-pen and pre-Benadryl (at least for me). They were both very brave, but never thought twice about heading out. Admittedly it was probably easier for my mother when I was two, because I was eating baby formulas. Then again, Florida was just the first of many trips.
Since that first adventure, I have traveled by planes, trains, cars and boats. I have seen more than 25 states, 7 provinces and 22 countries. And I still think there is a lot more for me to see. And while I am fond of travel, I do not take traveling with allergies lightly. Over the years, I've developed a list of travel tips that serve to make traveling safer and more enjoyable. To help you on your next travel adventure, here are some of my Allergic Traveler travel tips.
1. Always have with you food your child can eat. If you are headed south, never bring chocolate. If you are headed north, think of foods that can withstand the cold. If you are headed to a foreign country, think twice about microwaveable foods, as microwaves may not be readily available.
2. Always pack your child's medications, checking first that they are all current. Bringing different versions of the same medication, for instance in liquid and pill format, can also be helpful. Carry some medication on your person and some in your luggage. It's always good to have twice as much medication as you think your child might need for the trip, just in case your plans get changed due to travel delays and cancellations.
3. Research local hospitals and emergency clinics at your travel destination ahead of time. Having numbers and locations handy in case of an emergency can lesson the stress if an emergency situation should arise.
4. Research the local cuisine for the places on your travel itinerary. If your child has a soy allergy, will he or she be able to eat if you go to China? The answer is actually yes. I certainly did. You just have to be knowledgeable about the foods that are locally available.
5. Bring a pashmina (large scarf). It can act as a blanket, jacket or even pillow at night. This can be especially important if your child is allergic to feathers.
6. Make listing part of your pre-travel preparation ritual and refer to your lists often. You do not want to have to look for Benadryl in a foreign country only to realize you did not pack it.
7. Make sure all members of your traveling party are aware of your child's allergies, where you keep his or her medications and what the schedules and plans are regarding allergy management.
8. If you decide to book a cruise, make sure to notify your travel agent of all your child's allergies. A lot of cruises are very accommodating to food allergies.
9. Call ahead and request rooms with refrigerators and microwaves. While not all rooms have these appliances, if the hotel has some on hand, they can bring them to your room. And call early, as these items are typically provided on a first come-first served basis.
10. Always have a way, such as by carrying Allergic Traveler cards, to easily share your child's allergy information. Such information may need to be shared with restaurants and hotels and on planes, trains and cruise ships.
11. Remember to have fun. Make your travels an experience that your child will cherish always.
About the Author: After working for 20 years in the corporate world, Tarah Jakubiak founded Allergic Traveler, makers of allergy ID cards in more than 18 languages. Jakubiak, president of Allergic Traveler, is an avid traveler who manages multiple food allergies, such as eggs, nuts, mushroom, soy, garlic, corn, sesame, potatoes, celery, shellfish, chicken, pork, peanuts and many fruits. Her allergies do not keep her from seeing the world. She has traveled to 22 countries and 25 states. Jakubiak has been to all inclusives, cruises, camping and backpacking through Europe, exploring big cities and little hidden gems. She is originally from Montreal, Quebec and now lives in Greensboro, NC with her husband.
Linkedin: Tarah Jakubiak