Way before Penny was diagnosed with food allergies, we had planned a trip to visit my husband’s grandfather, who lived in Florida. Two weeks before the trip we found out about her allergies. For us, this is a 10 hour trip, and anyone who has toddlers dreads the thought of all the opportunities for everything to go completely wrong: ear pain, hours of crying and wanting to run around when we are about to land are a few scenarios that come to mind. Now add to this Food Allergies and you clearly have an equation that tends towards chaos.
Food allergies was something relatively new to us, which meant that, to say the least, I was anxious about getting on a plane and leaving our “comfort, allergy-free zone” at home. I was anxious about dairy and peanut residue on the plane’s seat, about other passengers eating peanuts close to us and about what we were going to eat once we left our house. So, I read as much as I could about food allergies and prepared myself for the experience. While doing research online, I found out that policies regarding food allergies vary from airline to airline. Some airlines create buffer zones, others make announcements, others ask people to retain from eating peanut products, and the list goes on. After reviewing several of the major airline’s policies, we settle on Delta. It seemed to us that it had a more food allergy friendly policy than others.
When it was time to pack, aside from our clothes, shoes, and toiletries, I made sure that I had packed 1 bottle of Benadryl, 2 Epi-pens in the diaper bag, 2 Epi-pens in the luggage (in case we had to use the one’s we carry in the diaper bag), a carry-on full of allergy-free treats, and wipes for wiping the plane seats. We also bought allergy wristbands to alert others and allergy alert stickers (Penny wore one and our bags had them as well).
Although we had already spoken to an airline representative, once in the airport, we talked to the airline staff to let them know about Penny’s allergies and asked them to let us pre-board so we could wipe down her area. They were very accommodating and let us pre-board every time. Even though we took precautions, Penny ended up getting hives. Thankfully, we did not have to use an Epipen; with the antihistamine alone, the hives went away. Looking back, I wonder if there were enough allergen particles in the air to cause this reaction. Perhaps I should have taken extra precautions.
Once in Florida, our family knew about her allergies, so they were extremely careful and understanding, something I am grateful for. The only challenge was if we wanted to go to a restaurant. I felt that it was hard finding places to eat without risking a reaction. It was during this trip that we stumbled into a website called Allergy Eats. This website serves as a guide to finding allergy-friendly restaurants in the US. To visit the website click here.
Half way through our trip, we decided to take a drive to Disney World. I was still a bit anxious about the food and about particles of allergens on the rides, but my husband reassured me that everything was going to be alright. The day prior to our road trip, my husband went to their website to see if they had any special accommodations for people with Food Allergies. It turned out that they have designated kiosks that sell allergy-friendly treats. Also, you can eat at certain sit-down restaurants and enjoy an allergy-free meal. We just called to make a reservation in order to make sure we were going to eat at an allergy-friendly restaurant. Upon arriving at the restaurant, we told our server about our daughter’s allergies, who told the chef. The chef, then, came to our table and talked to us about the allergy-free items on the menu. For the first time in those two weeks since we learned about her allergies, I felt safe eating in a restaurant. What was even better was that we all felt included. 🙂 We also brought our own baby carrier, which saved us from the worry of finding allergens on a rented stroller, and as for the rides, I just wiped down Penny’s area- problem solved. The rest of the trip turned out to be amazing.
The allergy-friendly meal
What started as a nerve-racking situation, ended as a happy and pleasant experience. We got home safe, we didn’t have to use an Epipen, and we spent priceless time with our family. What else can I ask for?
For more information and tips on Traveling with Food Allergies, visit: