Vacation planning can be tricky. So much time goes into planning a vacation in general — where to go, when and where to stay. But for someone with food allergies it adds on additional planning, lots of research, increased anxiety and you need to plan well in advance. From the very start you need to find out details about…
- what airline will be safe for you to fly, or is it better to drive;
- will the hotel have a refrigerator in the room or do you really need a full kitchen set up;
- what restaurants would be safe to eat at, and can I even go into certain places (what if they serve peanuts, nuts, or other allergens).
Even if it’s an amusement park, zoo or other fun filled destination, those with food allergies have to ask unusual questions like what are the animals fed, what oils are food items fried in and so on and so on.
- Where is the local hospital and best route to get there (just in case)
Always research as much as you can about where you are going in advance. Places like Disney are very family friendly and tend to be excellent with food allergies, but some amusement parks are not. Just because they are family friendly, don’t assume they are food allergy friendly. Search the internet, read blogs, ask friends on Facebook for places that have worked out well for them, check websites such as www.AllerDine.com for food allergy friendly restaurants in the area and print out a Restaurant Allergy Card to give to the chef each time you eat out.
AllerDine.com covers many of the major vacation destination cities such as Orlando, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego, Toronto and many more with close to 1000 restaurant locations detailed with food allergy procedures, allergens on site, kitchen set up and much more. There is no reason that with appropriate research and follow up while you are there, you can’t go enjoy your vacation. But always be prepared and double check every step of the way. Always make sure you have all your medications with you before you depart, and it ‘s probably good to check expiration dates just in case.
Call in advance to ask questions, notify them of your allergens and when you will be coming in. When you arrive, request to speak with the manager or chef directly to double check everything again for consistent answers.
Ask questions like …
- if they have a label book or itemized book of ingredients,
- how your meal will be prepared,
- what is the kitchen layout (ie. Nuts in salads may be very far away from your meal)
- what is safe to eat based on your allergens, make sure you have confirmed the chef will use clean gloves and utensils.
Don’t forget to wipe down where you will eat with a clean antibacterial cloth and then use a clean dry cloth to remove any residue, request or bring pre-packaged silverware (and pre-packaged crayons if coloring menus are given out), and always bring back up food, just in case you aren’t comfortable with anything. Don’t be afraid to walk out if you aren’t comfortable, because this is your life. Hopefully with the research you do in advance, you will be able to find yourself eating out safely and really enjoying your vacation to its fullest and creating happy memories to last a lifetime.
Wishing you safe eatings and travels!