Tag Archives: Traveling

TIPSy TUESDAYS – Going on Vacation

Because I am currently trying to get my own health in order, I am reposting my first “TIPSy TUESDAY.”  I posted this right after our first family vacation after learning about my son’s multiple food allergies. Since I look forward to our next family adventure, I looked back and wanted to share some tips…

Going on vacation with food allergies


 

Now, at least in my experience with having a son with multiple food allergies and skin sensitivities, everything new is a scary ordeal.   Every new food, new lotion, new soap, new visitor, new school year, new milestone, new experience, new environment, and everything else you can have a new of can be nerve-racking.

With that being said, going on our first family vacation since my son’s diagnosis was a huge new experience with many new environments to inspect and learn to trust. Therefore, while I was excited, I was full of anxiety those first days.

Here are some tips that I found to be helpful.

  1.  Be prepared: Check to see where the local hospital/urgent care is.  Also, make sure to bring the proper medications and emergency plans.  In our case, we searched the nearest medical centers beforehand.  Since I always carry Epi-pens and Benadryl on me, we also packed extra of these.  I copied TJ’s recently updated “Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan” before we left  to keep with us all the time.
  2. Plan Meals Beforehand: Since TJ was only 15 months during this trip, we still made most of the food that he was eating.  Therefore, we planned ahead, making sure that we had enough of his food for the duration of the trip, or least the food that we thought we may not be able to get on vacation.  We also made sure that the place we were staying had a kitchen with a refrigerator and oven to help with his food.  Because of the reality of cross-contact, we also brought his own pots, pans, trays, containers, and utensils. (See more information about cross contact here.)
  3. Scope out the scenes everywhere: (To some,  this tip may seem to be a bit much;  however, I find it to be extremely critical.)
    1. Check out the place you are staying.   Even though we stayed at a very well-kept place, we wiped down the surfaces all around, emptied out unsafe foods left in the refrigerator by previous people, vacuumed, etc. When we first arrived as my husband was unpacking the car (before we had time to wipe down and vacuum) , the first thing TJ wanted to do with his toys was put all of his farm animals on one of the dining room chairs.   I quickly scanned the chair and noticed a larger piece of Parmesan cheese.   Therefore, we cleaned everything where he would be. I truly believe that you cannot be too cautious.
    2.  Scope out the locations you visit throughout the day such as the beach and aquarium.   While I know that this tip may sound irrational,  we learned that scoping out the beach is extremely important.   On our vacation this time around, I checked out the area of sand that TJ was playing in and it seemed safe.   However, when he started to run around, I noticed peanut shells nearby.   Later in the afternoon, I noticed pistachio nut shells. Apparently lots of people eat nuts and peanuts on the beach so just check out the area.  This was just something I never thought of beforehand. In addition to nuts on the beach, we also had to be careful when we visited the aquarium on a rainy day.  This is because the facility sold buttered popcorn.  As people walked around, many ate and dropped a ton of this buttery treat all over.   It was safest, especially on the first floor where it was sold, to hold my son or keep him in the stroller.
  4. Bedding/Washing: With TJ’s eczema and skin sensitivities, we have to be careful with detergents and soaps.   While for many months we only used Soap Nuts to wash all of our laundry, we now use a free and clear detergent that doesn’t affect TJ’s skin negatively. Therefore, we brought this detergent as well as all of TJ’s safe soaps. In addition, we brought all of our own bedding and towels which many people do anyways.
  5. Have fun: While you should always be on guard, like a close family member reminded me a week ago, we all need to “live a little.” With the proper preparations, trips can be super enjoyable and totally worth the pre-trip anxiety.  Because our first family vacation with food allergies was a huge success, we smile on and look forward to the next…

 

 

 

TIPSy Tuesdays: Preparing for a Safe & Special Holiday with Food Allergies

In my experience with having a son with multiple food allergies and skin sensitivities, everything new is a scary ordeal.   Every new food, new lotion, new soap, new visitor, new school year, new milestone, new experience, new environment, and everything else you can have a new of. In addition to the new experiences, holidays and parties also add some challenges and worries. However, there are steps and precautions that you can take to ensure the special holiday that you deserve. The more prepared you are… the less likely it is that fear will enter the scene.

how to have a safe and special holiday season with food allergies

With my son’s initial anaphylactic reaction and learning of his multiple food allergies last December 2014, the holidays that year were a rough time for me.   As I tried to process it all, I was fearful of everything. It was not an enjoyable time because of this intense anxiety and stress.

While a whole year has passed, many challenges still remain for us.   However, this holiday season I plan to smile into it prepared and ready to enjoy this special time, having faith over fear….

Making The Holidays Happy AND Allergy-Friendly


Here are some tips on how to have a safe and special holiday season with food allergies:

1.  Be prepared: If you are traveling far, check to see where the local hospital/urgent care is.  Also, make sure to bring the proper medications and emergency plans.  My son’s up-to-date “Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan” is always packed in my diaper bag with his EpiPens and Benadryl.

2. Pick your setting and population: Yes, I know that you cannot pick your family. However, if you have an option of where to celebrate the holiday, pick the place where people are most understanding of food allergies and the precautions needed. If you have the means to, even offer to host.   (I am not there yet.)

3. Scope Out the Scene: Check out the place you are visiting and/or staying.   Scope out wherever and whenever you child will be eating, wipe down the surfaces all around, and scan the floor.   Since babies and toddlers love to put objects in their mouths, it is important to make sure that there is nothing unsafe to start.   From our experience, you would be surprised what food products are often around.

4. Communication/Setting up the Meal: Before the meal begins, have a plan in mind.   For example, plan ahead where your child will sit, eat, and when this will occur.   In addition to wiping down the surface, we bring Mickey Mouse place mats, his own plate, and utensils.

5. Announcement: To help with those guests who are not aware of or educated about food allergies and your family’s situation, make an announcement that your child should not be fed any food.   At a family BBQ in the summer, a person in our extended family came over to my son with her plate of cake, cheerfully and innocently asking, “Can he have some of this?” With my son in my arms, I jumped back as her spoonful of cake was way too close for comfort.   Therefore, an announcement before eating begins is a great precaution to take. Sometimes, people just don’t know or understand.

6. Washing hands/Kissing: This is another part of the reminder or announcement.   Our family has been great with accepting this request. Even though I take many precautions for my son’s safety, I do also make sure to brush my teeth always before kissing him.    We also ask everyone who is with TJ, (friends, family, daycare, etc.) to not kiss him on the face or lips if they have just eaten and especially if they have not brushed their teeth. I struggle with this because I know he deserves a million kisses every day and trust me, I want to be able to give him everything in life. However, right now, this is what we must do to ensure his safety, his health, his life.   He is still too little to speak and therefore, it is even more critical.   We show him love in soooo many other ways in addition to giving him lots of hugs. And of course we kiss him, when we know it is truly safe to do so. With that being said, inform all guests that blowing kisses is a must especially after eating has begun.

 In addition to the kissing, it is important that people understand they must wash their hands after handling or eating food of their own before they hold or contact my son.  After explaining the reality of cross contact with our family, we have been extremely blessed with their support and diligence with this. It makes my heart smile knowing that we have this support.

7. Plan Meals Beforehand: Since my son is only 18.5 months, we still make most of the food that he eats.  Therefore, we plan ahead, making sure that we had enough of his food for the duration of the visit.  If we are staying over, we also make sure that the place we were visiting has a kitchen with a refrigerator and oven to help with his food.  If it is just a day visit, we bring our own cooler with his food. Because of the reality of cross-contact, we also bring his personal pots, pans, trays, containers, and utensils. (Whatever is necessary for the visit.)

8. Allergy-free Options (Safe Food): Pass on food that you are unsure of.   For now, my son will only be eating what we provide.   In the future as he begins to talk more and expands his diet, I do plan to make allergy-free versions of some of the main course foods.   I look forward to this. However, this year we will stick to his safe foods that we will prepare beforehand.

9. Watching/Keeping in Eyesight: With young children like my son, my husband and I take turns watching him.   Throughout the event, we have one set of eyes on him the entire time.   This does not mean you are a “helicopter parent” instead it means you are the biggest, must-needed advocate.

10. Enjoy yourself: This is the step that I failed to do last holiday season.   However, this year will be different.   I find comfort and confidence in knowing that through our advocacy, my son will have an amazing, safe, and special holiday.   Therefore, we will smile on to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and Christmas.

(And when I get home, I will be celebrating by hitting up that bottle of wine. )

SMILING ON WITH WINE

Cheers to a safe, special, and allergy-friendly holiday season!


Read more about the following topics at the links below:

Peanut Butter Kisses

Making Sure Not to Bunk Up with Cross Contact

Chef Amanda Freitag’s Food Allergy Recipes

Making the Holidays Happy and Allergy Friendly

Traveling with Food Allergies & How You Can Help

Before having my son, my husband and I traveled a lot, flying to different destinations once or twice a year.    While we have not had the chance yet to fly anywhere with my son, we do plan to one day.   While that thought should bring us great anticipation and excitement, instead it brings terror and anxiety for the following reason explained by No Nut Traveler at http://www.nonuttraveler.com/.

“Currently, there are no guidelines or procedures for airlines to follow concerning food allergies. This is despite the fact that there exists a multitude of documented instances of allergic reactions on planes to both peanuts and tree nuts. There are no guidelines that an airline has to follow to protect allergic passengers.”

No Nut Traveler

Her advocacy has helped introduce a bill to protect passengers with food allergies.   This bill would place stock epinephrine on airplanes in addition to training airline personnel on anaphylaxis and using epinephrine auto-injectors. While her efforts are beyond inspiring, we can all help to make this a reality.

Sign the petition here: http://www.nonuttraveler.com/sign-the-petition/

&

Contact your legislature here: http://www.nonuttraveler.com/contact-your-legislator/


We are beyond thankful for all of these efforts to ensure the safety of all those with food allergies and those who may one day develop them.   Because we know we are being called to do even more, we smile on in hope of what advocacy can really do…

Help Make Air Travel Safe for Everyone