Traveling with Food Allergies
As if traveling with kids wasn’t difficult enough
One of the universal experiences of motherhood is that feeling of sheer panic when your child is in danger. When every ounce of your being wants to wrap your arms around your precious child, shelter, and fiercely protect them from all the dangers in this world. I had such an experience a few months ago when an allergist confirmed my 2 year old, Cora, had an allergy to tree nuts.
Exposure could result in symptoms up to and including anaphylactic shock and her throat closing. My husband was living in Germany at the time and I was preparing for my daughters and I to join him. I allowed myself only a short wallow, and comfort in my own mother’s hug, before adjusting to our family’s new reality.
Cora has the mixed blessing of a protective older sister. They have both been taught what nuts she cannot eat and to always ask if there are nuts in a product. When ordering ice cream, big sister gently reminds her that she can’t have the hazelnut flavor but the strawberry looks tasty too.
For adults, there is a wealth of information on www.foodallergy.org. When traveling we always learn the 911 equivalent of the country we are in and note the location of the nearest hospital.
Prevention far from home
I also go to freetranslation.com, type ‘my child has an extreme allergy to all nuts’ and then write down the translation on a small card I carry in German, Italian, French, or Spanish depending on our destination. I don’t trust my pronunciation, so I simply show this paper to whomever we are ordering food from in a restaurant, store or bakery.
I ordered bracelets from allermates.com to provide a visual reminder. It is a hard to miss shade of bright green and fortunately, my little lady loves bracelets.
In the eight months we’ve known about her allergy we have successfully avoided exposure thus far. We still have to be prepared with her Epi Pen and premeasured travel doses of Benadryl. We encountered a situation flying from Spain to Germany with an airport security employee who was refusing to let me take the Epi Pen through security.
I pleaded in my mixed German-Spanish-English “Meine kinder is allergic to alles cacahuetes!!!’ I’m not sure if it was my impassioned yelling, the desperation in my eyes, or not wanting to hear any more of my terrible German, but she finally conceded. Lesson learned. My husband asked the pharmacist to affix the prescription label directly on the box of the Epi pen, and we’ve had no problems in airport security since.
Any advice for me?
So, travel savvy moms, that’s my story. Since I’m relatively new to the world of food allergies, I’m eager to hear yours. Please leave a comment below with any tips or experiences to share, as our sweet children are destined to experience more of the world than our sheltering arms will provide, and sometimes as parents the best we can be is prepared.