“As soon as I saw you, I knew you would be an adventure of a lifetime.”– Winnie the Pooh
I love that quote. I feel that exact way when I look at my two children.
They are so full of life, eager to learn, and ready to explore all the wonderful places they read about in their storybooks.
As their mother, I want to foster that love of learning and adventuring.
At the same time, the food allergy mom side of me is drowning in anxiety. I would rather wrap them in bubble wrap and never leave our house.
Realistically, I know I cannot squash my children’s desire to travel. We do have an additional hurdle though. They have life-threatening food allergies and I will always be their number one support in helping them find safe ways to accomplish their dreams and see the world.
However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t downright terrified the first time I took my children on a plane.
I’m sure many of you felt similar feelings of anxiety or maybe you are feeling it right now even thinking about planing a trip somewhere.
If that’s the case, then I hope this blog post is helpful to you!
Step 1 – Research Ahead of Time
The more information you are armed with, the more confident you will feel in making traveling decisions.
When possible, start researching airlines and airport security rules long before you book the tickets. In fact, I recommend giving yourself at least 3 to 6 months to prepare.
FARE is the trusted source of information about food allergies and we closely follow their airline travel recommendations. Click HERE for a link to their safety tips when flying with food allergies.
If you are traveling abroad – click HERE for more helpful tips on traveling with epipens from Drugs.com.
Know The Airline and Airport Security Rules
Before traveling with my two toddlers with food allergies, I didn’t know the rules and was worried that we would not be allowed to carry our epipens with us on the plane. You ABSOLUTELY can have them on your person and you need to do so.
I was also nervous we would not have access to safe food while in the airport and basically wanted to pack my entire pantry.
Thankfully, all the concerns and questions I had were addressed by detailed information online!
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does allow airline passengers to carry epinephrine injectors in their carry on bags.
- Click HERE for TSA’s Disabilities and Medical Conditions page.
- Click HERE for their epinephrine information page.
We did not have a problem getting our epipens through airport security. I had them ready to go and hailed a security officer to politely request they screen the epipens separately instead of through the x-ray machine.
There is no evidence that the x-ray machine impacts the integrity of the epinephrine, but I still made the request. They pulled us to the side and examined our 4 epipens before releasing us.
Our experience was that simple, but it’s important to keep in mind that each airport and TSA agent can handle things differently.
Lastly, I know it seems like a no-brainer, but we DO NOT ever put our epipens in our checked luggage. They will be completely unaccessible if there is a medical emergency during the flight.
Can You Bring Safe Food?
TSA has a phenomenal webpage of information concerning foods that can go through security in a personal carry on bag. Check it out HERE.
Food Tip #1
Our advice is to plan to bring enough safe food to feed your family at least 2 full meals. Additionally, snacks can be packed separately from the designated meals. The reason I say this is based on a personal experience.
We were on our way home after a trip and ended up missing our flight.
We were stuck at the airport for over 8 hours and ran out of safe food for the kids. Thankfully, we were able to hop on a flight right as our food ran out.
Otherwise, we would have had to leave the airport since there were no safe options available to us. Hence, we highly suggest having a lot of safe food packed. We dedicate one personal carry-on bag strictly for safe foods.
What Our Family Usually Brings:
- assortment of food bars
- dry oatmeal
- dry cereal
- protein shake powder
- dried fruits/fruit bars
Food Tip #2
Research the stores and the restaurants that are in the airports ahead of time.
Depending on what allergies you are managing, there might be some safe options for dining. You might also be able to find fresh fruits, veggies, or snack packs that are a safe option from a kiosk.
Lastly, there are some allergy friendly brands, such as MadeGood, that sell select products at certain airports. Try surfing the airport’s website or calling the customer service line to inquire about their restaurants or convenience store products.
It’s worth it to check into the food options beforehand!
Step 2 – Make an Action Plan for the Plane
Our family makes a plan for how we handle the actual airplane ride. Some airlines will allow you to board early to clean your seats. We call ahead and see if the airline can accommodate that request and then we check again once we arrive at the gate.
Once on the plane, we use wet wipes to wipe down everything your child might potentially touch.
We also wipe down the seat tables and the fabric pockets in front of us as well. Secondly, we then cover the kids’ seats with something. You can use a bed sheet, blanket, or crib sheet that you have packed.
Amazon also sells airline seat covers. You can find a link to an example HERE.
Once our kids are situated, we get them setup with their activities.
Thirdly, we also like to connect with the flight attendant and tell her about our medical needs in case an emergency were to occur mid-flight.
Lastly, we do not eat any new foods or new brands while traveling on a plane. We do not want to risk an allergic reaction to a new food or to a product that might have cross-contact concerns.
Not only do we not try new foods on a plane, but we try not to eat period. Depending on the length of the flight, this can be accomplished. Anything over 2 or 3 hours is a lot harder and we have to break out the safe snacks that we packed.
Step 3 – Prep & Triple Check
Honestly, researching and creating an action plan of safety measures on the plane is where the bulk of the work is centered.
Once that’s done, I create a list of all the allergy safe items we need to have on our trip. Then I have my husband double check that list – just to have another set of eyes reviewing it.
Then we go through the list 3 separate times to ensure we did not miss a single thing! Is it overkill? Probably. And no, you do not need to do this. But for me personally, it helps me feel a lot less stressed out.
The key is to find a system that will help you feel more confident and less stress.
It’s Worth It
Traveling with food allergies can feel overwhelming, especially when you are traveling via plane.
Give yourself lots of grace if you feel anxious about it. A lot of food allergy moms before you have felt that way too. It is a normal and understandable reaction.
We are here to encourage you that this can be done. We’ve done it. Thousands of other food allergy families have done it too.
Take your time planning, research throughly, ask lots of questions, and breathe deeply as you go.
You and your sweet babies are going to have wonderful adventures together that will turn into beautiful memories.