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Take A Vacation With Food Allergies, Not From Them

by Tracy Bush 

I think it’s safe to say that if you mention the word “vacation” to a food allergy parent, most of them will immediately get that deer-in-headlights look. For most parents of kids with food allergies, taking a vacation can be too stressful to even want to consider planning. Some families decide it’s easier just to stay home and avoid all of the additional “what ifs.” I understand because I used to get that look, and sometimes I still do. What is it about food allergies and vacations that cause such distress?

Embrace that overwhelming feeling of “Where do I even begin?” Take a step back and realize that you’ve got this handled with preparation – and a sense of humor.

Keep a Sense of Humor
Repeat this to yourself 365,482 times, because having a sense of humor is so important. Not sure how this is relevant? If you are a food allergy family, chances are that a cooler (or two) and luggage filled with food is what you are used to packing for a “simple” two-day trip. And although you can probably feel the stress beginning to rise up while looking at this picture from one of my recent trips, you have to laugh. When one of your traveling concerns is whether there will be room in the car to bring the microwave, you know that this life is also about keeping things on the lighter side. Our lives with food allergies are not all about doom and gloom. They are, however, about being prepared and embracing what we consider to be our “new normal.”

Be Prepared
Being prepared will always mean packing necessary medications, but it can also mean so many other things:

  • Label any items (including non-foods) that may pose cross-contamination worries. A combination of multiple siblings and family members, over-tired moms and dads, and friends who are trying to help out will only benefit from a clearly labeled item to keep everyone safe. Plus it makes it easy to grab-and-go.

  • Check the kitchen conditions to make sure you have the proper items available to feed your family safely. This also helps to cut down on bringing duplicate items, such as a microwave, dishes, and utensils. Just make sure you bring cleaning supplies for additional assurance that there will be no allergens floating around.

  • Expect the unexpected, because this happens to all families. It could be that your child happens to come into contact with a food allergen, but it could also be as simple as realizing that you forgot to pack more than one pair of pants for the trip. No trip is perfect. No parent can remember everything all of the time. And whatever happens on one vacation will be a learning experience so that (hopefully) it will not happen on the next one.

Remember That It IS Vacation
It’s completely understandable that food allergy families tend to be overprotective and, in being so, we sometimes forget that vacation is meant as a time to relax and enjoy your family. Sometimes letting go just a small amount will show you how much your children know about protecting themselves. Bring all of your family’s favorite foods and celebrate all of the wonderful things that you enjoy together. Remember that having food allergies does not define our families. It opens our eyes so that we can begin to celebrate what we are given.

About the Author
Tracy Bush is the founder and president of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods; where to shop; and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book, "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies," at www.AllergyPhoods.com.