It’s always great when you can finally take time off from a busy work schedule, pack up, grab the kids, and head off for adventure and some relaxation. Well, easier said than done when you vacation with a child who has some food allergies. It’s no longer just going any place or any where. Planning begins well in advance of that start date. Let me share one of our experiences that taught us this lesson quite well.
Our daughter was still young, and this was actually one of the very first “real” vacations we had taken with her. We’d decided to make reservations for the Great Smokey Mountains Railroad on their Halloween excursion. Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy would be making an appearance (and if you’ve read my previous posts, you should know by now how much she loves Snoopy) so we really wanted to make this trip special. I made the reservations for the train, found a nice place to stay close by so we were all set. Time came for the trip so I began to pack a few days ahead. I packed all the essentials we needed, clothes, shoes, her Halloween costume which she could wear on the train, toiletries and her medications. The day came and we were off. Once we arrived about 4 hours later, we checked in and decided to grab some dinner. Upon getting back in the car, we began to think about what restaurants we had passed coming in. It was a small town and we didn’t recall seeing any “fast food” restaurants (since those are ones we know and trust because the ingredients rarely change for fries and a plain beef patty). We ventured out and rode through town a few times, wondering if the residents there were getting nervous about the new tourists in town and why we where driving up and down main street over and over. I finally grabbed my phone, looked up restaurants in the area and found the BBQ joint that might be a winner. We made our way there and upon entering, I immediately glanced the menu on the wall and saw fries listed. Yes! We had a winner. As long as we have fries, she at least has something she can eat. We found the manager, asked about ingredients and she ended up with fries and grilled chicken. Whew, we were good. Now, let me get to the situation we caught ourselves in that really brought us to the realization of our vacation mishaps with an allergic child.
The next day we decided to get out and see a bit of the town. We also needed to get a few groceries and snacks. We decided to grab some breakfast items that we knew she could eat and we could prepare in the room. We then drove around town and made our way to some hiking trails that offered quite a few waterfalls for viewing. We hadn’t really prepared for a hike, but we thought “Hey, we don’t have to go that far, but we can just go in a little to see at least one of the waterfalls.” Nat would love that. So I bundled her up best I could (because it was actually quite chilly) and off we went. Upon reaching the first waterfall, we thought it would be okay to venture to the next one and the next one. By the time we got to the third one…and I’m not sure why the thought hit me at that point but somehow I just like to think that the Lord above gave me the insight to come to the realization that “We are in the middle of no where!”
Nat has food allergies, but she also has asthma. We had her medications with us, but still, if we needed an ambulance at that point, there was no way we were getting one up there. We quickly turned around and made our way down the trail and back to realization. We then ventured back to our BBQ joint where we knew she could safely eat.
The next day we did our early morning train ride, saw Snoopy and Lucy and Charlie Brown and just had a ‘good ‘old time’.
We had her medication with us, but we were on a train (that certainly didn’t move very fast), and we ended up about 5 miles out in the middle of no where. Well, here we were again with an allergic child with no way of calling an ambulance if we needed one. We made it back safely and enjoyed our last dinner at our BBQ joint where we knew she could safely eat. In the end, the trip was great but we learned some valuable lessons on How to Vacation with a Food Allergic Child.
5 Important Things to Remember:
Be sure to pack all medications needed and Extra’s if possible. We always have 2 Epipens with her but we carry 3 or 4 when traveling. Don’t forget any over the counter meds as well.
Carry snacks and food that your child can safely eat. You never know when a situation may arise that you simply can’t find an trusted outside food source.
Places to Stay
Before making reservations at the “familiar” hotel, check to be certain it is located near a hospital for emergencies, near “food” that can be safely consumed, and if your child has asthma and pet dander allergies like our Nat, also make certain the room is “No Pets Allowed”.
Plan your route so that you are within a decent distance of emergency services if needed. (Yes, you tend to give up the scenic route and just live with that inner city traveling that can make your driving experience a living…Well, you know what I’m getting at here. ;))
Research restaurants in the area and along your route to be certain they serve foods that are allergy friendly.
You want your vacations to make great memories, just make sure they are the good memories.