Traveling with kids always requires lots of planning, organization, flexibility, and plenty of tasty snacks. However, for families traveling with kids who have food sensitivities and/or food allergies, the pre-trip logistics (and making sure those snacks are allergen-free) can sometimes create anxiety and seem totally overwhelming. We’ve put together a checklist of food allergy pre-trip actions and packing items to help you feel confidently prepared to maintain your child’s food safety while out of town. Whether you’re navigating the next great American road trip, soaking up rays of sun at the beach, or jetting off somewhere internationally, review this checklist before your next trip to keep everyone in your family happy and safe.
• Discuss travel plans with your family doctor she/he may have some additional specialized advice.
• If traveling somewhere international, make or buy an allergy translation card.
• Double check the expiration dates of your child’s medications and epinephrine auto-injectors.
• If traveling abroad, learn generic and brand names of medication you may need.
• Know local hospitals near where you’ll be staying in case of an emergency.
• Contact your airline when you purchase tickets and inform your flight crew of your child’s allergy before you board. If your child has a severe peanut allergy, consider booking your flight with a peanut-free airline.
• Take the earliest flight of the day when airplanes are typically cleanest.
• Wipe down your airplane seats, arm rests, and trays with sanitary wipes.
• Consider renting a private home or condo so you can have full control of kitchen sanitation, and prepare homemade meals if needed.
• Book a room with microwaves and refrigerators so that you can safely warm up and store safe foods.
• Perform a visual inspection of your room when you arrive for loose food or residue.
• Research restaurants, supermarkets, and other food options in the area.
• Call restaurants ahead and ask to speak with a manager about food handling policies.
• Ask advice from the free-from community. Often times you’ll find at least one person who has travelled where you are going and has some good recommendations.
• Pack snacks or non perishable meals that you know are safe to eat — so if the food options around you aren’t good, you have a plan B.
• Check out #nimatested City Guides for gluten-free guides to popular destinations.
• Download the Nima app and find thousands of Nima-tested restaurants and packaged foods.
Food Allergy Packing List
• Plenty of safe snacks and/or meals.
• Epinephrine auto-injectors and extra medication that’s easily accessible.
• Extra copies of your child’s Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan signed by your child’s pediatrician.
• Hand wipes and hand sanitizer.
• If traveling by car, your own cutlery, plates, toaster, knives, cutting boards, and cookware.
• Extra Nima test capsules.
Food Allergy Resources
• Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) is a comprehensive website with more tips for traveling safely with kids with food allergies.
• Kids Health offers further advice for kids and teens traveling with dietary restrictions.
• Nima blog is a great place to find community, gain perspective from fellow Nima users, and learn about new gluten- and peanut-free products, trends, and events that may be relevant to where you’re traveling.