During the summer, many kids may sing “take me out to the ballgame”, but don’t bring them any peanuts or Cracker Jack, because they may just be allergic.
According to a report by Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine, 8% of American children, nearly 6 million kids, suffer from a food allergy. Some parents complain that while it is hard to manage allergies at home, doing it on the road can seem nearly impossible.
There is good news though. Families don’t have to stay home and miss out on experiencing new places because of food allergies. Here are three ways to ease the tension of traveling with allergies:
1. Call ahead. Talk to guest services at the hotel or have an airline representative make a note on the reservation ahead of time. It can save families lots of time and hassle later on. A note in the reservation system can be conveyed to anyone who may come in contact with the allergic person or his/her personal items. Chef Anthony Sicignano, Executive Chef at The Breakers Palm Beach, often works with families who have allergies. “In addition to numerous emails before guests arrive, “said Chef Sicignano. “We also sit down and meet with the family when they check in so we can answer any more questions and provide them with a special list of items that they might enjoy according to their allergy needs.” Many hotels, including more moderate ones, will do this for families free of charge.
2. Bring some food staples. While many restaurants and hotels can accommodate the needs of allergic children, families can’t rely on them entirely. Bring “safe” foods like fresh fruit, crackers, or Rice Crispy Treats, or hit the local grocery store soon after checking in. Some hotels will even store foods, like rice milk, that need to be refrigerated.
3. Speak up. Parents who have children with food allergies, even mild ones, need to continuously let anyone who serves them food know about the condition. Be conscientious and follow up with servers, but also don’t assume all restaurants are off limits. Establishments of all types will often make accommodations for allergic children if they are asked.
Courtney Paulson, veteran TV producer who travels often for work, has dealt with potentially deadly allergies all her life. She offered this advice by email: “One thing that is important to me is trying my best to not let my food allergies stand in the way of living as normal a life as possible. Living with food allergies while traveling is not always easy. However, if you plan ahead, travel with folks that are understanding of your circumstances, and are very diligent, there are many ways to enjoy a trip.”
By take some precautions and planning ahead, families can travel to new and exciting places even if someone in their family has food allergies.
Pediatrics, online (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/1/e9.abstract?sid=6d6285e9-64b8-4c97-8a5d-62eafa2e6876) June 20, 2011
Maria Smith's bio: Maria Smith is a mother of three and a freelance writer in Atlanta. She blogs at www.MamaliciousMaria.blogspot.com and is the principal publicist for Maria Rose PR.
Edited by Shannon Koehle