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).