Recently we found ourselves in a quick dash to the airport for a flight, followed by a multiple hour drive. This lead to dinner at a family members home, breakfast at our accommodation, morning tea in a park and lunch at a funeral - followed by a long drive and flight home.
The first issue was the flight. We were dealing with an airline that does not include food in their tickets (great) but does allow people to bring their own food (not so controlled). So first question, should I inform the airline of my child's allergies?
Next problem, once on the flight people directly behind us could be heard offering their grandchildren nuts. What should we do?
Then comes the inevitable, "I am bored and therefore I am hungry" scenario...that is ok, I have prepared snacks and sandwiches for all five of us traveling together so no feeling of exclusion there!
Now to collect the hire car...can I recommend - if you have a child with food allergies that you bring your own car seat. It may seem like something extra to carry but it will minimise risk and provides a much sounder piece of mind. And now that you have wheels, make sure you give yourself time to pick up allergy friendly supplies if you were unable to bring your own.
For us, our arrival meant that our allergy child we surrounded by well meaning individuals drawn together in the lose of a respected person. They all visited bearing gifts of food. This was stressful for us and more so for our allergy child. Can I eat that? What can I eat? And worse, why can't I eat those - I usually can? (As food was recognised but removed from them because it was presented along with cheese which is one of their allergens). Food was on display, passed around and generally forced upon guests in an environment of mourning and solidarity. Our child grew upset with missing out but kept this for discussions with us, her parents, rather than making a scene that would have embarrassed us and the grieving family and guests. For a 6 year old we were impressed and continuously tried to be reassuring but also complimentary of the maturity she showed in coming to us with her grievances.
Thankfully the hosts, being family, had pulled together an allergy friendly meal but that did not stop us from acting as our child's shadow. Luckily dessert was also covered by a marshmellow cake so that the very appealing looking pavlova was not touched by our dairy and egg allergy child.
With a sound sleep under our belts it was then time for a very emotional day. We had some snack food with us and mistakenly believed we would be able to source lunch from the caterers of the wake. It was a stressful day without time for trips to supermarkets or other establishments. As we were flying afterwards we also did not want to buy much. But lunch was a problem. Our allergy child had to watch room full of people helping themselves to all forms of cocktail food while unable to eat a thing. Drawing on the snack food squirrelled away in our hire car, Oreo biscuits and Arnotts shapes became lunch.
Lesson learned - always take food with you (hopefully you won't need it and it will go to waste but take it anyway). Consider having something in your freezer at home that you can pull out and take with you - either that or make time to make something. It may save the day (and a funeral is not the place for drama or avoidable allergy related medical mishaps.
My tips summaried:
- always carry EpiPens close to your person
- take your own food with you on the flight and wipe your tray table prior to use
- take your own car seat with you to ensure piece of mind when using someone else's car
- allow time on your way to your destination to grab allergy friendly supplies if you need them
- teach your child self regulation and encourage them to check with you before eating food
- allergy children are so mature for their age and what they are dealing with - don't ever forget to acknowledge this
- encourage your children to voice their frustrations to you (so you can do something about it without embarrassing others)
- consider keeping pre-prepared food in you freezing that you can take on trips when the need arises