April marks the season where many families take a holiday for spring break and/or celebrate Easter or Passover with their loved ones. It’s a busy time for travel. It’s also a reminder that summer travel is just around the corner.
We spent our spring break with family who live an hour outside of Phoenix. We had a lovely time hiking in the desert, swimming at the pool each day and enjoying home cooked meals el fresco. My father in law has a fire pit in his backyard so the highlight of our trip was making s’mores over an open flame each night.
There are plenty of markets within a twenty mile range from my father in law’s house but we still brought a small suitcase full of speciality food items like Dandies marshmallows and Enjoy Life Chocolate bars to make s’mores. It was pure bliss!
We put travel on hold after my daughter’s last reaction. I let fear take over but I missed traveling because it was such a big part of my life. It feels safer to stay at home within the comforts of our kitchen but I’ve come to realize that figuring out how to travel safely is an important life skill to teach my little girl. Trips may not go as planned with food allergies but it has taught us to be flexible and appreciate the joys of travel.
Even though Phoenix is a short airplane ride from Northern California, the amount of preparation to fly with kids with food allergies always feels the same. Here are ten essential items that have helped our family to fly with food allergies:
- Wipes: Clorox travel wipes for wiping down tray tables, seat, seatbelt and buckle, windows and surrounding area. We prefer not to use the holder basket because most people use it to stuff food or garbage containing food products. We like Nice-n-Clean wipes to use for wiping hands. I also bring an extra plastic bag to discard all of our wipes. Since we are a family of four, we wipe down four seats and that’s a lot of wipes!
- Crib sheet: or an allergen seat cover designed specifically for the airline seat. Even though we wipe down our seats, we use this baby crib seat from Ikea. It doesn’t fit perfectly but at least provides a barrier between the seat and my daughter. She doesn’t mind and pretends that it’s her cocoon! It’s washable which makes it safe to use on our next flight.
- Tray Table Placemat: I like this silicon placemat from Skiphop because it doesn’t move around and covers the tray table. It also works dual purpose in any given restaurant or picnic area.
- Sippy cup or thermos for water: we fill our cups with filtered water at the airport after we leave security.
- Gloves: in case she needs to go to the restroom on the airplane. We haven’t had to use these yet( our flights have been short) but they can act like an extra layer of safety against allergens or residue from allergens in an airplane restroom.
- Epi pens and meds: We carry our meds in an insulated, padded case like this pack We also carry liquid versions of Benadryl and Zyrtec in addition to tablets. The website, Show Your Teal has a larger pack to hold all meds including inhalers and Epi pens. Remember to keep meds in your carry on bag. Please check in advance to make sure your Epi pens and auto injectors are current, up to date and not expired before traveling.
- Doctor’s note & Emergency Care Plan: Although we’ve never had to use it, I feel reassured knowing I have an updated doctor’s note in case anyone in security questions us about our daughter’s food and meds. It is also helpful to carry your child’s emergency care plan. You can find one here on the FARE website.
- Food and snacks: We carry a bag full of food and snacks. We prefer to carry whole foods such as fruit and veggies. We also pack sandwiches with safe bread, Sunbutter and Mac-n-cheese in case our flight gets delayed. We do not buy any food/snacks at the airport or eat meals provided by the airline. We bring food that we’ve eaten safely before at home (no new foods). Kortney who writes the blog Allergy Girl Eats has a rule where she only brings food she’s eaten safely at least three times. I love that rule!
- Extra change of clothes: I pack clothing in a ziplock bag which I place in my carry on bag. I have my daughter wear long pants/leggings and long sleeve shirts because her skin is protected in case she comes into contact with any of her allergens.
- Packing Cubes & Stasher bags: travel cubes are helpful for overall organization. We like something like this from TravelWise. Stasher bags are great because you can keep a designated bag for food and/or wipes. They are also washable and reusable which make them handy for travel.
- Every airline has a different policy for pre-boarding, accommodating food allergies and serving snacks. Check with the airline first.
- First flights of the day are generally cleaner on an airplane.
- For more tips on traveling with food allergies, check out this post I wrote when we visited Hawaii last summer.
- Here is some additional information regarding flying with children and food allergies from the website; Kids with Food Allergies
- Plan ahead by deciding on what and where you will eat after you land. We try to find an In- n-Out or Chipotle as our safe go to restaurants. If this is not an option, we either bring food( we have brought frozen homemade pasta sauce from home) or purchase ingredients from the store for a simple meal.
- Allie who writes the blog, Miss Allergic reactor has a helpful section for traveling as an adult with food allergies under “Airline & Flight Posts“
- Check out the website Allergy Travels on Facebook and Instagram. Join their private Facebook community to get access to a wide range of travel related questions and topics.