Six Game-Changing Ways to Calm Your Food Allergy Travel Fears
If you follow my blog, you know that we love to travel despite food allergies. We have PN, TN allergies and a gluten intolerance.
Even though travel is a regular thing for us, we (I mean “I”) still go through LOTS of reservations and fears EVERY SINGLE TIME.
These fears range from calm “What were we thinking” to all out crazy anxiety.
I have to say things have gotten better as we’ve done it more, and practice DOES make perfect (see #6). But it NEVER, ever goes away entirely. In fact, I often get stuck at the booking stage of our trips. Even after researching a vacation for hours and hours, my hubby and I will go through every single option and think it out thoroughly, but then when we get to the point where we’re ready to book it, I stall. I JUST CAN’T DO IT (Maybe I need to put on some NIKE shoes or something). Anyway, the process is often threatened to stop there.
It’s because at this point, the doubts hit me.
I worry about more than just the allergy airline
I’m usually thinking how crazy we are for even thinking about going on a trip like this. Not only that, but the “what if’s” are relentless. What if we can’t find a hospital, what if we can’t find safe food, what if a reaction happens and we run out of EpiPens?
Some may not value travel enough to worry about missing it in their daily lives. And that’s fine. But travel for my hubby and I has always been important and we’ve always believed it teaches our kids so much about life.
In fact, you may not know this but my hubby and I lived in New Zealand for a year after we were married. This was 2001/2002 right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We travelled around Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore shortly after this event. People thought we were crazy for flying and thought we should just come home, but we didn’t want fear to stop us. In the end, it enriched our lives and we were so glad we experienced it before we came home to Canada to “settle down”.
So no matter what I’m feeling, deep down, I truly believe that we can’t stop living because of food allergies.
When we allow fears to control and stop us from things that are really important to us, we also give up on special things in life. Special things that you often can’t get any other way. If we let fears stop us from from doing what’s important to us, we often let it creep into other parts of our lives too.
Some examples where fear may restrict our behaviours might be going to a sporting event, or visiting family over the holidays. And for all of this, I TRULY believe that you can prepare for the worst and hope for the best. With some planning and work, these things ARE possible despite food allergies. And it’s worth it to cultivate relationships and life experiences for our kids (and not only that, but to help empower them in the food allergy journey too).
Even though I believe this, it still ISN’T easy!
There are so many times when I just don’t want to coordinate another meal or ask for the ingredients AGAIN. And when it comes to travel, I often need my hubby to “push” me past the fear. And don’t get me wrong, once we’ve booked the travel, I’m usually fine until right before we leave. That’s when it hits me all over again. But at that point, I can usually push through and get it done because I know how to prepare and knowing this is half the battle.
So how do I deal with the idea of still living our lives while balancing life-threatening food allergies?
Here are 6 ways I move past the fear of food allergy travel.
6 Ways to Calm Your Food Allergy Travel Fears
Decide on the right vacation for your family.
What do you want our of your vacation? Figure out what type of travel is important to you. Do you want to sit on the beach and relax for a week? OR do you like to explore another country? Figuring this out will be the best place to start. Once you know this, you can then find ways to make whatever vacation easier with food allergies. When choosing a vacation, take into consideration the age of your little(s). If they are younger than 8-10, you may want to opt for something a little less intensive like a beach vacation.
For me this means going to countries that speak English. Of course, with food allergy translation cards, you can go to non-english countries too, but this adds another layer to the complexity and you may not want to do this right away.
3. Get help.
When we travel we try and book with companies that we know will take food allergies seriously. Disney is usually a good bet. Either at their parks or cruises or other adventures. Other well-known brands may be worth checking out too, just make sure to call them directly to figure out how they manage food allergies and if they truly understand and manage cross contact properly.
You can’t get away from this one. I look at each and every aspect of the trip and look for ways to make it safer or ways that I can plan to bring safe meals or how we’re going to find safe food at the destination
I like to know where the accommodations will be located and if theres a hospital and grocery store nearby. I also like to find out what the emergency number is in the country we’re going to (similar to 911).
We also research restaurants nearby and find at least 1 that we feel we might be able to go to every day if we have to.
A great place to start your research is the AllergyTravels website. It has reviews of countries and airlines and so much more! You can also join food allergy Facebook groups specific to the country you’re travelling to and ask questions there.
5. Book the right accommodations.
For food allergies, this usually means having some sort of kitchen. You’ll save money by shopping and preparing the food yourself, so this is a double benefit. If we’re staying in one spot, we usually book hotels that have small kitchenettes so we have an oven and maybe a stove and microwave to cook with.
How much you have to cook with depends on your comfort level and the types of foods you are able to find. I usually like to make a travel meal plan to help with this.
6. Do it.
From someone who struggles with actually booking travel, I can honestly say that the best way to get over your food allergy travel anxiety is to just do it. Make sure you’re completely prepared and start with a small trip (maybe a weekend), and then go for it. Stretching your boundaries (even a little) will help you to move to more adventures later. And maybe a long, adventurous trip isn’t what you want anyway. But starting small will help, no matter what your end-goal is.
Food allergy travel can cause anxiety, but by asking the right questions and planning, you can cover the bases you need to feel confident.
What about you? What are the hardest parts about food allergy travel? What do you do to help get over the anxiety?
And there’s more too! Just click on the “Travel” topic on the right.