So it’s summer, officially. The time when alot of us are traveling. If you are at all like me, you might be a little nervous about traveling with allergies, food allergies and/or asthma.
Below are 10 tips for traveling that I wrote for Cherrybrook Kitchen’s newsletter (reprinted with their permission). Have more tips to add? Do let me know!
Over a lifetime, I have gathered some tips and tricks for creating the most allergen-friendly trip. Here are my top 10 helpful suggestions.
1. Do your homework. This may seem like an obvious one but it's your best offensive weapon. Some places are more naturally allergy friendly: from the weather to the population to the health food stores to the restaurants. The Internet is your friend, use it. Also use your local library and librarian to find travel books about your destination, read them, get to know the place where you're headed. Your AAA TripTik and map system is an excellent and underutilized resource. They have listings of local attractions and local hospitals all in a handy and FREE guide [included in AAA membership]. See details at www.aaa.com.
2. Get names. Through the Internet, find and contact local support groups in the area you're visiting. They have a wealth of information about the local area. Also, get the names and addresses of the local hospitals and ERs in the area. Ask your pediatrician or pediatric allergist for colleagues in the area; always good to have the name of a local doctor who is well-liked among his/her peers.
3. Take snacks. We call them travel snacks or car snacks in my family. On a long car ride, plane ride, or train ride snacks are necessary. If traveling in car you can bring a cooler but otherwise shelf-stable snacks are a must. Many companies have pre-packed goodies like Cherrybrook Kitchen's new cookies or you can make yummy treats at home like granola to take with you.
4. Shop at the local market. When you get to your destination, take the family on a food shopping trip--the local green market or farmer's market is a great way to get to know the local area and pick up some healthy, fresh treats. Find local health food stores or supermarket chains that stock food your family can eat.
5. Travel pillows. My new favorite pillows are by AAFA's certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly products. They go above and beyond your normal "hypoallergenic" standards to create a truly allergy-friendly product. In years past, I've taken a little travel pillow all over the world with me. It's saved me from feather bed situations, dusty train headrests, and less than sanitary hotel rooms. See www.asthmaandallergyfriendly.com for more details about the pillows.
6. Check your meds. Again another obvious one, however there were plenty of times even my most careful mother forgot to pack the antihistamines and there was no 24-hour pharmacy around. Before you leave, take the time to go through your family's travel medicine kit. Is everything up to date? Do you need doubles or triples of anything? Do you have enough medication if an inhaler is left in a hotel or a pill case is dropped? Talk with your doctor: what medications do they recommend you have in your travel kit?
7. Allergy cards. When dining on the road, away from home, the chef cards are a great help, clearly labeling you or your child's allergy. There are also cards available in multiple languages, great for traveling abroad or eating in ethnic restaurants. Cherrybrook Kitchen provides an easy-to-print card that you can find by clicking here.
8. Medic alert bracelet. When I went overseas for a year during college I got my first Medic alert bracelet, and I've had it ever since. Talk with your doctor about whether your child needs one. See visit the Medic Alert website.
9. Pack your sense of humor. Humor and personal flexibility are your best defenses. A hotel lost your room reservation? The plane is delayed? All the bedding is feather with no alternatives? The next health food store is 50 miles away? Remember honey works better than vinegar. Challenges will pop up, problems will happen; humor and kindness go a long way.
10. Relax and have fun. Once you have done your homework, you have your meds, you have your snacks, your route and your bedding, remember the whole point is to have fun together.
For more tips about traveling see two of my favorite sites: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ; American Academy of Asthma Allergy & Immunology