If you missed my initial food allergy post, my youngest daughter, Madeline, will be two in July and has severe allergies to eggs, tree nuts and peanuts. Thus far we have held off on almost every trip that has come our way… skipping long weekend weddings, passing up on a cruise with our cousins and even saying no to our family’s trip to Italy for the past two summers. We have pretty much keep our adventures to day trips and weekends at places we know are safe such as family homes. My husband and I have just not had the guts to deal with facing our daughter’s food allergies away from home, as she has been too young and non vocal to let us know if there was any problem, and it’s a bit scary for me to think about anything happening away from home, or not being able to have home-prepared food for her.
Now that she is a little bit older and can at least get the point across if something is bothering her or hurting, we have decided to book a family vacation for the beginning of the summer. We are taking a trip up to Maine, for some fun in the sun, seafood (can anyone say lobster rolls?!?!), outdoor activities and maybe a little relaxation time (probably not, but here’s hoping!)
We are all super excited. My husband and I love taking our girls to new places and allowing them to experience new things. They are so curious and adventurous… it’s great to see them exploring. I want everyone to have a great time, of course, the main concern in my mind are the food allergies, especially with being away from home for almost a week.
This is another uncharted territory for me, but these days I seem to find myself navigating through these new waters somewhat smoothly. I just need to make sure that I am super organized and plan accordingly. As I am in the preparation process for this trip I will outline some of the key steps and ideas that I will be using to help my daughter have a fun and safe trip. I am hoping that other moms in this same position will find this useful and If anyone has any input or advice I am completely open to hearing it, if you would like, please send me an email or drop a comment below. As I prepare and then actually go on the trip, I will update this story to let you know how everything went and what may have worked great or not so well.
Often times, us moms are so busy and have so many things floating around in our minds that we might skip right over a thought that seems so obvious to someone else… so that is why as I think of things I will outline the, here for anyone else in this same or a similar position… because sometimes you don’t think of something until someone says it and then you scratch your head and say “Duh, how come I never thought of that!?!?” In a situation like that, two Mom minds are definitely better than one!
I spent a good amount of time looking into hotels in the area we are interested in visiting. Now that we have children, I would rather opt for a suite with a bedroom door that closes and a separate living space. My kid’s go to bed pretty early and if we had to close everything down when they go to bed, my husband and I would be sitting in the dark from 7pm on… not ideal. Being the start of busy season in Maine , I found some suites that were a bit pricey, but still doable. Then I started thinking about my daughter and her food allergy needs… how would I take care of her for a week with no kitchen!?!? So then I decided to look into cottages or something, like a condo with a full kitchen. Well, those prices began to sky-rocket and my husband and I just couldn’t swing the cost for a full week on lodging alone.
My sister then mentioned to consider using Airbnb. I have heard of it, but since I have been a little out of the vacation loop lately, I am not too familiar. I went on the website and was pleasantly surprised. In the area we were interested in, I managed to find a new condo, very clean, with great amenities and all five star reviews. The price was not too much more than the hotel I was interested in, although there is an extra charge for cleaning as well as a service fee) and the location is only a five minute drive away from that same hotel. So I think I hit the jackpot with this. Now, we will have a two bedroom condo all to ourselves plus a full kitchen. Now we can buy groceries and keep some safe foods in the fridge to prepar for Madeline throughout the week.
This took a load of stress off my shoulders, to say the least.
RESTAURANT DINING & LOCAL MARKETS
I definitely suggest to begin researching restaurants in the area prior to your visit. I usually use TripAdvisor because I love reading all the reviews from vacationers. Then I check out each website to see how their menu looks and what type of atmosphere it has.
With food allergy concerns, I might even try to call ahead of time to see if they have any safe options, if they use nuts in certain dishes, etc… this way you can feel prepared ahead of time and not have to worry about it on your trip as much.
Since we will now have access to our own refrigerator and kitchen, I think I will also be bringing up plenty of snacks and groceries to prepare several meals for Madeline to bring to restaurants. I even like that I will be able to bring breakfast items so we don’t have to rush out the door in the morning to get breakfast.
On that note, researching a grocery store in the area that you will be staying in mightalso be a great idea. I typically go to Whole Foods at home. I already checked and they do not have one in the area we will be staying in, so I will probably bring some of my regular Whole Foods staples and see what other markets are in that area in case I need to grab anything while we are there.
Another idea to try is, if you are traveling with the US, and you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can check to see if you can have Amazon Fresh delivered where you will be staying. I already get Prime Fresh deliveries and so I thought about having itdeliveted to our vacation spot. Unfortunately, the area we are staying in is not serviced by Prime Fresh, but it is worth a shot to look into it to have fresh groceries for your child delivered to where you will be staying.
I have read that packing extra epinephrine is recommended while traveling, just to be on the safe side. Also, if you plan to travel by plane, do not pack this in any luggage that will be checked… always keep this in close proximity to you.
In addition to extra epi pens, also remember to pack a copy of your child’s medical action plan as well as any other medicine needed in the event of a reaction, such as topical or oral Benadryl. Also, don’t forget a medicine spoon or oral syringe.
We got back home from our trip about a week ago and I’ve had some time to go over a few things in my head. Overall, everything went great, however, having to handle the allergies while in an unknown area did add a bit of stress at times. Only because we want our daughter to feel included and we want her to be able to eat with us and not feel left out. All this while being sure to keep her as safe as possible if she does try anything new to eat.
First of all, I highly recommend staying at an Airbnb. Having our own full kitchen was an enormous help and, honestly, I don’t know how I would have stayed without it!
Each day we ate breakfast in the condo and then I would make and bring lunch for the girls. It worked out pretty well at lunch, since my husband and I liked eating seafood at a restaurant, but both daughters didn’t want that anyway and would rather have what I made. So there, I didn’t even have to worry about Micaela having something from the restaurant while Madeline had what I made… they both just ate what I brought which was good.
Dinner was a bit more difficult. Most days we wound up going back to the condo to cook dinner for the kids and then my husband and I got take out. I did look on AllergyEats to get a feel for restaurants that might be good for Madeline to eat in, but I was just too nervous. Lucky for us, we did find a great little take-out gem that allowed my husband and I to get some delicious food and enjoy some wine after the kids were asleep.
The last night we really wanted to eat dinner out as a family. I had been thinking that pizza might be our best bet to stay away from eggs and nuts. I made phone calls to several pizza restaurants in our area and then I found one that made me feel super comfortable. The manager told me their pizza dough did not contain any eggs and he let me know they can protect our food from any nut cross contamination. Bingo. This was the place. And we made a great choice. We got to eat out as a family and Madeline and Micaela were so happy that they got to eat pizza (They both made funny faces at us whenever we offered a taste of lobster throughout the week)! It was actually the very first time we went to a restaurant as a family and Madeline got to eat what we were eating… a very big milestone for all of us!
One other thing to watch out for is ice cream. It’s a great treat, especially while casually strolling around on the beach, but, it can be very difficult to find a safe option. In my quest to get Madeline and Micaela some safe egg and nut free ice cream as a treat, I found out that many homemade ice cream contain egg yolks! Who knew!!
i was able to find an ice cream parlor that offered sorbet as a good option for Madeline. It had zero allergens and the woman opened a brand new container for me and used a clean scooper… Maddie got to have some yummy sorbet while Micaela had some ice cream and both girls were happy as a clam!
In addition to visriting my site, I also recommend visiting the FARE site as well to read all about living with food allergies.
I hope this helps any other moms out there in the same boat as me! we are all in this Mom thing together!!
Nicole & Madeline