Food Allergy Chronicles: Traveling with Food Allergies? by Caitlin B.

food cant eat

NOTE: In 2016 An Open Suitcase is introducing “Food Allergy Chronicles.” All of our food allergy information will be written by Caitlin, a certified chef and sufferer of multiple food allergies. We will be introducing information about travel with lots of video and hope you will all of the information helpful!

Here is Caitlin’s first post:

Traveling with food allergies can be very scary and life threatening, especially when others don’t understand the risks associated with cross-contamination or one little ingredient sneaking into a recipe. Many associate food allergies with someone getting a rash and unless they have a family member or themselves suffer from a life threatening food allergy they just don’t see the big deal. Food allergies can easily put the allergy sufferer into anaphylaxis requiring IMMEDIATE medical treatment. Traveling away from home can sometimes be frustrating and limited when it comes to eating ~ and yes, dangerous, too.

What constitutes traveling with allergies? Is it a weekend trip? Is it if you travel by plane? The truth is any time you leave your house you are traveling with food allergies. Anytime you may have to eat food you didn’t make yourself or wasn’t made by a trusted family member or friend, you are traveling with allergies.

Imagine for a moment that you are on a break from work and you decide to get your oil changed. It takes longer than you thought and you no longer have time to go home for lunch, what do you do? Non-allergy sufferers would most likely stop at some form of fast food (which is a totally different issue in itself). It’s not a great choice but it’s a choice you have. Now imagine you can’t eat certain foods. Many of the most common allergens for example ( eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, shellfish) make fast food stops out of the question. If you’re lucky there might be a Chipotle (a place I can eat at) around but you can’t guarantee that. Any time I leave my home, I take food with me. I prepare several small meals that are ready to go at all times. I carry my own snacks. Insulated lunch bags are a staple for me. 

Food allergies are not life choices. These are legitimate chronic health issue and should be taken very seriously. Everything needs to be planned. Friends are going out ~ where are they going ~ have you been there before ~ can you eat there? These are all things that need to be considered everyday and the reason everyday needs to be prepared for as if it’s a travel day.

Vacationing with food allergies can be a nightmare and over time I have found some of the best spots to vacation. Spots (such as Disney properties) that understand the importance of food allergy dining and go out of their way to accommodate allergy sufferers ~ even with buffets (which are a cross contamination nightmare for someone with multiple food allergies).


caitlin bio

Essentials for a Fun & Successful Road Trip!

cartripphotoOur contributing author Dawn finds as much fun and comedy as she possibly can in all situations. You’ll definitely see that attitude come through in her list of road trip essentials! Here is what she has to say:

The essential items for a fun and successful road trip to Walt Disney World Resort (or anywhere else!)

  • Well you first need your family members, all of them even the teenagers
  • A good freaking attitude by all to help start the trip off right, are your ears on fire kids
  • Have a list to make packing easier and less stressed
  • Pack your car correctly; the things you need to reach quickly should be within your reach, such as medicines, cold drinks, music, a stick to swat the kids or something to throw at them
  • Have all CF numbers and ID cards (hotel if using points for room) for proper identification.
  • Cell Phones, Computers
  • Headsets (have backups) for kids- Trust me, it makes everyone’s life easier.
  • Cooler of drinks
  • Staple snacks such as gum and candy for impromptu bubble blowing contests, Pringles, Funyuns (weird name, huh), peanut butter crackers, you know trash food. Last but not least, stop off at a Stuckey’s Travel Center and buy a pecan roll~ also explore the unique store.
  • Movies for car; long car rides deserve trilogy’s like Star Wars, etc.
  • Cell phone car chargers and if you need an AUX cord
  • Great music and especially your favorite Disney podcast MQ Podcast available to play
  • Wet Wipes/Paper Towels for messes (because there will be messes)
  • Trash bag or two or ten
  • Sunglasses for all
  • Blankets and favorite pillow
  • Pen and paper for car games, etc.
  • Camera for funny pics along the way
  • Change for toll roads, readily available
  • Road Map or directions to your next stop if you don’t have a navigation system
  • Red Bull (hubby)
  • Play a great “slug bug” game. (Slug Bug, for the uninitiated, is the game of riding in the car and noticing a Volkswagen Beetle, then calling out “SLUG BUG!” and slugging your neighbor in the upper arm.)



  • Hopefully a reliable vehicle
  • Full tank of gas (duh)
  • All current car registration, license plate & driver’s license
  • Charged batteries in car (duh)
  • Recent oil change
  • Jumper Cables, just in case (should carry anyway)
  • Good, recently checked aired up spare tire
  • Umbrellas

All you need is a little preparation and any road trip can be magical. For a great Disney podcast on this topic check out:  and/or my blog at: 

Have an amazing time!



IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party – Epcot – by Dawn Gosdin


If you’ve ever noticed the linen clothed tables and specially roped off area around World Showcase then you might have noticed the dessert party with or without knowing what it is. You might only think, It’s for special peeps, well I’m here to tell you, you’re special, because it’s for anyone who wants to shell out more coinage for Disney. It can be booked 180 days in advance and the cost is $49 per adult and $29 per child.

The price includes delicious spirits and all kinds of delectable goodies from the International pavilions of EPCOT’s World Showcase. I’m not a dessert person per se, give me potatoes over sweets any day, but I was willing to suffer for my family’s experience and who doesn’t like VIP type events, Ooh-lala. I digress….

This was my family’s first experience with a dessert party at Walt Disney World Resort. I decided to surprise them with this special treat, they had no idea it existed being that I’m the uber Disney freak. I booked it a few weeks in advance and made the ressies for the last day of our trip; I figured we would go out with a bang~ Illuminations bang that is. 8pm was the time and the meeting locale was World Showcase Plaza. We arrived about fifteen minutes early only to find many peeps had already arrived and claimed prime tables for viewing “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.” I suggest you get there at least thirty minutes early to grab primo real estate, you can thank me later. I also want to break the news that there are no chairs to sit in, so you’ll be standing the entire time unless you nab a table near the landscaping wall, yes I said landscaping wall, at least you’ll be able to lean against it and actually have a better view of the show. They had many desserts to choose from~ baklava, rice crispy treats, brownies, tiramisu and a variety of cakes if you like that sort of thing, LOL and don’t forget the Champs and Prosecco from Italy plus coffee, lemonade and tea for the non-drinkers.

9 p.m. was the start of “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” and the show was fantastical as usual, but I could’ve had a SEAT at La Cantina de San Angel or Rose & Crown and probably had some potatoes to boot for the price I paid for five people to have some dessert and a few, very few spirits. I would have to say, this was a nice “different” Disney experience and a wonderful surprise for my family, but the real question is WAS IT WORTH THE MOOLAH? My answer is – No, it’s not worth the money, save your money and buy more souvenirs or enjoy yourself drinking around the world. Woot!

Cross posted – Previously published on and

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend Medals Revealed


So I’ve become a bit obsessed with the Avengers lately. Ever since I saw Avengers:Age of Ultron, I’ve just become hooked. And Captain America (Chris Evans, cough cough) is my absolute favorite. So when I heard there was a Captain America 10K this year during runDisney’s Avengers Superheroes Half Marathon Weekend, then I had to sign up for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge! Now the medals have been revealed, and I could not be more thrilled!

If you still need Avengers Half Marathon bibs or Infinity Gauntlet Challenge bibs then contact Sarah Bergman at Here’s her website for more information on the Avengers race and future runDisney races – Tell her The Adult Side of Disney sent you! She’s got them, and you don’t need to purchase a hotel room with the bibs, though she’s more than happy to help book your accommodations if you need them. The bibs come with a one-day single park ticket (that she can upgrade!). Aaaand, the best thing (besides the bling), Disneyland 60th Diamond Celebration (#Disneyland60) will be going on!!









I’m kind of regretting not bringing my kids now to run these races, because I’m in love with the Ant-Man Kids Races medal! My favorite quotes from the movie “Baskin Robbins always finds out,” and “Crazy, stupid, fine” are used on a daily basis in my home. It’s time to Assemble, Avengers, so what are you waiting for? 

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend comes to Walt Disney World in 2016!

My friend Patty and I have been dressing up as Star Wars characters for runDisney races before Star Wars races were even announced. The rumor mill has been buzzing for a long time now about the addition of a Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend – The Dark Side- at Walt Disney World in Florida. I knew Patty would tell me when it was time, and the announcement has finally been made. Let your runDisney Star Wars fan flags fly high, April 14-17, 2016. Remember, the Force will be with you, always.

Star Wars race


The Press Release:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL (Aug. 25, 2015) – runDisney is summoning the Force today to announce another Star Wars-inspired intergalactic journey, this time to the dark side.

The “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Dark Side” enters the galaxy April 14-17, 2016, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and pays homage to the dark side forces of the Star Wars universe. This new race follows the debut of the popular Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort, which will return in January as the “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Light Side”.

Ever since we launched the Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort, runners have been clamoring for more, so we’re thrilled to bring the Star Wars franchise together with the runDisney brand to Walt Disney World Resort,’’ said Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “If the inaugural Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort is any indication, this new running adventure to the dark side is sure to be the out-of-this-world experience that runners have come to expect at runDisney events.’’

The new Star Wars race at Walt Disney World Resort will be a journey of personal achievement all its own, involving kids’ races, a 5K and a 10K in addition to the half marathon, plus a variety of Star Wars experiences, medals, events and merchandise inspired by a galaxy far, far away. Among its many features will be a unique 13.1-mile course that propels runners through Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and finishes at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There will also be a Star Wars Dark Side Challenge — running the 10K and the half marathon on consecutive days – that offers each finisher a Death Star-themed medal.

Jedi and Sith Lords who dare to experience both Star Wars races will have the chance to take on the Kessel Run Challenge — completing the Star Wars half marathon missions on both coasts. Kessel Run Challenge runners can earn a commemorative “Coast to Coast” medal inspired by the Millennium Falcon starship. Race registration opens Sept. 22 at

The addition of this second Star Wars race continues the recent wave of significant growth and popularity of runDisney events domestically and internationally. This is the second new runDisney race announced for 2016, joining the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend (Sept. 23-25 at Disneyland Paris), and the fourth addition to the runDisney series in the last two years (Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland Jan. 2015 and Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend Nov. 2014).

Each year more than 200,000 runners sign up for runDisney events, which often sell out in record time.

“We are committed to creating extraordinary experiences and events that appeal to runners of all ages and attract even more fans of our various brands and franchises to the sport of running, creating opportunities for them to live a healthier and more active lifestyle,’’ said Bisienere.

Darth Vader has always been my favorite. I think he was just a little misunderstood.

Star Wars Half