Planning Vacation with Food Allergies

Even though we have cautiously navigated anaphylactic food allergies for over a decade now, I can proudly say that we have also managed to safely vacation every year as a family. Food allergies do make vacation a little more work, but we still come back refreshed and rejuvenated. The fun time together and the sweet memories made are definitely worth the extra work.

When my husband and I start planning our next excursion, we go through a mental checklist that clarifies our plans and goals for the vacation. And the list ensures we are taking all the safety precautions necessary. Maybe these tips and questions to ask yourself will help you plan both safety and fun on your next trip, as well.  


Who will be coming along? Grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends? Or will it just be your immediate family? Sometimes having extra hands and help is wonderful for food allergy families. Sometimes it's more stressful. What's best for your family's next trip?

When are you going? Will it be peak or off season? Less busy times are great for food allergy families as you can better focus on food allergy safety, but peak seasons can be safe, too. It just takes a little extra energy and effort when places are crowded. 

What do you hope to enjoy on your vacation? Exploring, shopping, relaxing, thrill rides, eating? There's no right answer, but it's good to pinpoint what you're hoping to get out of the excursion. This helps you realize vacation isn't all about food.

How will you get there? Plane, train, automobile? However you plan to travel, just make sure you have safety in mind and know what food allergy precautions need to be taken. Also, know how to get help should an emergency arrive while in transit. For example, we avoid new foods while driving the interstate because we could be miles and miles from a hospital.

What specialty foods can you bring along that travel well and would be quite a treat for your food allergy kiddo? I like to pack things my kids don't normally have, but that we are certain are safe. My son even takes a bite out of most every package at home before we pack it. 

What is the best way to manage your food depending on if you stay in a hotel, condo, or camp and if you fly, drive, or train? So far we've only driven and pack quite a bit of food in the trunk with coolers. For accommodations, we prefer full kitchen condos but can also make hotels work ok with microwave and mini refrigerator for a couple nights. We've even managed camping and cooking family meals on a fire. Packing plenty of containers, baggies, and hard or soft coolers can be really helpful with keeping food safe for days. Sharpies and labels are great for marking food containers, as well.  

Do you have a meal plan ready that ensures you have a lot of safe food and well balanced meals day after day? Packing food from home, knowing grocery stores at your destination, and bringing kitchen tools from home are always part of my strategy. Having a master vacation meal plan to use year after year is also a great idea for saving yourself planning time. Or will you try restaurants with food allergies? If so, you may want to do your homework on what and where is safe before you leave.

Are the planning adults clearly communicating before and all during the trip to safely maneuver food allergies together on the trip? Being out of your element can be especially stressful with food allergies, but you want to maintain control, calm, and unity in these situations. Talking out each step along the way helps my husband and I so much. Sometimes we include our son in the planning, sometimes we don't. 

Where are the emergency rooms along the way, and in proximity to the destination? Will you eat far from ER services or plan meals closer to medical care in case it's needed? We are especially mindful of this on long car trips, and secluded camping trips.

Are all your meds packed? Multiple epinephrine injectors, Benedryl, inhalers, etc. Where will you store them so you can grab them quickly? Do the epi temperatures need regulated to maintain room temperature? Remember, epinephrine lasts about 15 minutes. Have enough injectors to get you to the ER from your location point. 

Will you look for and buy some allergy-safe treats on your vacation? My son thinks it grand when we allow him to get pre-packaged and ingredient labeled soda, juice, candy, or chips at a gas station. We always get things he has safely eaten many times before. It's not McDonald's, but it's still store-bought and "spontaneous" and he loves that.

Do you have products packed to sanitize surfaces and clean hands? It saves us so much stress to have baby wipes stashed everywhere for cleaning hands and to have a few e-cloths with us for sanitizing hotels and condos.

Aside from food, what are the other exciting aspects of the trip that you can focus on with a positive attitude? Our family loves to focus on the quality time and adventures together. We take lots of pictures and love bargain shopping for souvenirs. There's so much more to life than food, thank goodness.

Please leave a comment and let us know your best traveling tips for food allergy families.

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