The first time we left the house with the TealKid was about a week or so after he was born. We were heading to my Mom’s for dinner at 5. Since TealHubs worked from home, we left with enough time to get there right at 5, which we knew because we had driven there for Thursday night family dinners for years.
We were almost an hour late. We stopped so many times that the trip took three times as long as it should have. Why? Because he was crying, then he wasn’t, then he sounded funny, and was he breathing, did we grab the diaper bag, did we refill the diapers? … and on and on.
After two anaphylactic reactions and an official diagnosis at one year old, it was like that all over again. It took even longer to decide to venture out, but now we had the added “gear” that was needed, mainly epinephrine and enough food for him, along with lots of wipes. We again had the same situation where we were really late to wherever we were going. As time moved on, we adjusted. We were able to get out of the house much quicker and even get to where we needed to be on time.
As with any new experience, you learn and adapt, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I never would have thought 10+ years ago that we could actually pack for a trip relatively quickly. When we started to venture out, it was an overnight here and there, then two nights away, and so on. We didn’t jump to full-on seven-day vacations, but we made strides over time. I would love to share some of the things that have helped us learn to travel with life-threatening allergies.
- Know the Road—Once we choose a destination, we decide where to stay. We are a family of five, which brings with it some challenges. Most hotel rooms are for up to four people, so it can be a stretch to find one that’s affordable, but also close to where the action will be. We also like it when we can get something with a kitchenette or full kitchen, as it lets us be a little more flexible with our planning. We have recently started trying Airbnb’s and it’s worked out well. Another thing we do is hit Allergy Eats to explore allergy-aware restaurants in the area we intend to visit. Worried about finding safe options? We have, on several trips, had Amazon boxes shipped to the destination directly. That way, we had the staples available, but didn’t have to pack them in our luggage. Be careful with this, as some places do add a package receiving fee (ask me how I know).
- Relax Your Standards—We don’t vacation extensively. We usually do an overnight or two per year, with some three-night trips sometimes when time and finances allow. We haven’t had a “big” trip in several years, but even on the shorter ones, I try and remember that if the Kid lives on Sunbutter, rice cakes, and Chex with hemp milk for a few days, we make up for the nutritional loss at home when he’s eating kale chips and raw broccoli. I try not to stress over what he’s eating when we travel.
- Carry More—Take more than you think you will need, of anything you don’t think you can get at your destination. If you know you need specific milk, bring more than you think you could ever go through. We also always travel with our usual meds, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. I know what we use is safe, and with all the activities and walking we usually do on trips, aches and pains tend to happen. I would rather not experiment with unknown brands while out of town, so I take our usual with us. I also try and travel with at least two sets of two epinephrine auto-injectors. We usually use our second set from school, and the one set TealKid self-carries. On top of that, I like to have an actual paper prescription from our allergist (I keep it in my glove compartment at all times, not only when traveling) so that should we run into any issues, we can get to a pharmacy for a refill.
- Get Help—I have to say that when we traveled to Toronto for Food Allergy Awareness Week in May, it was one of the nicest packing experiences ever. Yes, strange Mom goal. The kids were told how many outfits to grab, and they did, and I wanted to cry. It made things so much easier. Also, this cut down on the arguing that I didn’t bring this shirt or these pants or whatever other tragic mistakes I would have made packing for the child who shall remain nameless 😉
- You Will Be Stressed Out—Any time you are away from your comfort zone can be a challenge.I try and calm myself, but a lot of times I totally wig at least once. Usually it’s right at the beginning when I feel like I’m the only one trying to get five people out the door, at what they decide is a totally unreasonable hour. Checklists can be your friend, and it also helps spread the responsibility. We have “checks and balances” here, where I go through the list, and then as TealHubs puts stuff into the van, he calls it out to me so I can be sure it’s there.
So those are some of our survival tips for time on the road. I would love to hear what some of your hints and tips are when going on the road. What are some of your favorite destinations? Is there somewhere on your travel bucket list you are so ready to tackle?