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…
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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Scope out the scenes everywhere: (To some, this tip may seem to be a bit much; however, I find it to be extremely critical.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…