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Tips for Traveling with Kids Who Have Allergies...

Top Tips for Traveling with Children That Have Allergies

Call the hotel before booking to determine if they are allergy-friendly

High quality hotels that cater to families address allergy concerns. I have found that if I call the hotel ahead of time and ask about their gluten-free or nut-free options, I get a very quick understanding of their level of commitment.  If they embrace allergy safe policies, they can speak in a very helpful and educated manner about what the hotel offers.  If they don’t have an idea about what they can do, then I understand that it won’t be an easy place for us.

Ask for special room preparation

Another big concern is the cleaning of the room, especially since nuts are a very common snack with travelers.  Ask the front desk to speak with cleaning staff ahead of time and ask them to take special care with the room. Some hotels even offer special cleaning services for allergy sensitive travelers.

Research meal options ahead of time

This last weekend we stayed in Boston and although the hotel didn’t have a huge allergy-friendly restaurant offering, we were able to find restaurants in the area that identified themselves as allergy friendly.  Now, this was still hit and miss.  One place was listed for their gluten-free options, and but we found they accomplished that by just turning everything into a salad—not exactly what a 7-year-old wants to eat each meal.

Shop ahead of time and bring food along with you

Letting my son get hungry and not having food that he can eat is a recipe for disaster. I pack food that I’ve cooked and also bring frozen food. The hotels have been great about storing it for us. Having something I know that he can eat, especially for breakfast, has really been helpful. Before we go to meals, I also give him a snack. That way, if he has to end up having a salad, it’s easier if he’s not totally famished.

When we arrive in a destination, I try to find the nearest health food or grocery store. Then by having our room packed with fresh produce, he doesn’t feel deprived. Sometimes, it’s easier to stay somewhere where there is a kitchen so I can prepare some of his meals.

Understand the regional cuisine

If traveling to a foreign or exotic location, it’s helpful to know the ingredients to the most popular dishes, Pesto, for example, has both pine nuts and cheese, but somehow my husband always thinks it “looks” fine. We are thinking about traveling to Turkey where nuts are a common ingredient. I’ll have to do my homework, to know what I’m getting into.

Also, we’ll bring cards in many languages that list allergy information from Select Wisely.

Carry supplies

Carry wipes, your emergency plan, EpiPens, anti-hystamines and local hospital information. Wiping your area might make you look a little OCD, but it might avoid some problems. Have your emergency plan in the language of your destination. Having your own EpiPens and antihistamines avoid any issues that you may have if you have to get them abroad. Also, know which hospital is recommended. There are huge differences in the quality of hospitals. The CDC has great information on this.

Choose airlines with nut-free snacks

Airlines that do not serve nuts (although, they will not guarantee a nut-free flight for obvious reasons that they cannot control what others bring on board) are: American Airlines, Air Canada, Continental, United Airlines. (*Referenced: About.com).

Visit CiaoBambino.com for more kid-friendly travel tips, expert advice, hotel recommendations and more.  Follow us on Twitter @CiaoBambino.

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