Travelling with a child with an anaphylactic allergy

We love to travel as a family to all inclusive resorts and we always have an amazing time!   After our son had an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, it did make me think twice about whether we should continue to travel as we had in the past.  Would it be safe for my son to eat at the resort? What if something happened on the plane?  How would we know what would be safe for him to eat?  What if something went wrong and he needed medical attention?  Would there be too much of a language barrier? All of this and more flooded my mind.  Of course we still wanted to vacation but were we putting our child at risk?  I researched and asked a LOT of questions.

Here was and always will be our “Anaphylactic Travel Plan”

On the plane

Generally, most airlines do not serve nuts as their main in-flight snack but that’s not to say that some of the snacks may contain traces of nuts.  We did run into a flight within the US that did serve peanuts as the snack and if our son had been sensitive to airborne particulate we would have been in quite the predicament.  In advance of booking, we recommend you contact the airline directly and see what their policy is in regards to nuts. Air Canada and WestJet have phased peanuts out of their onboard snacks but can not guarantee that meals have not come into contact with nuts or that other passengers will not bring nuts onboard.  They will however, provide a “buffer zone” in rows around you where they will ask passengers not to consume nuts.  Specifics on their policy regarding customers with allergies can be found at Air Canada and WestJet.  Here is how we further handle the allergy on the plane…

  • We notify the Airline as well as the travel agent of the allergy when booking
  • We pack 4 EpiPens in our carry on bag.  We figure, in the case of an emergency this will give them time to land the plane for medical assistance if the onboard medicines don’t help.  Be sure that the EpiPens are in there original state so that they are affixed with the prescription with the  child’s name on it.  We have never had an issue getting through security with our EpiPens but asking your Dr. for a note to accompany you may not be a bad idea.
  • Try and take the first flight out in the morning as the plane is at it’s cleanest and there is less chance of cross contamination.
  • Bring sanitary wipes to wipe down snack trays, arm rests and windows
  • Pack your own snacks.  This works great for us as our son is a picky eater so his fave snacks keep him happy on the plane (and at the resort) and we are assured that they are free of nuts.

At the Resort

We became more particular in the resort we chose to vacation at once we found out about the allergy.  The resort’s reputation is key but I have always been a big researcher when it comes to what will suit our family’s fun needs anyhow! Now, I look into the resort’s close proximity to a city with a hospital in case of an emergency.   I also test out the resort’s customer service and quick response to an email before I book.  I figure if they are quick to respond to a simple question, then they are more than likely going to be attentive to our health needs.  Once booked, here is how we handle the allergy at the resort…

  • Prior to arrival I contact the Concierge and Food & Drink Manager via email to alert them of my son’s allergy, the date of our arrival and duration of our stay.  Generally, they will book our A la carte dinners before we even arrive to ensure the allergy isn’t lost in the shuffle.  Many resorts will automatically do this but I request that they put a note on our reservations at all restaurants about the allergy and ask them to provide us with a translated letter we can carry with us at the resort explaining the allergy.
  • Once at the resort I make a point of finding the Concierge and Manager and introducing myself to them to make sure everything is in line.
  • At Buffet restaurants we tend to stick to the fresh prepared stations where we know what is going into his food.   Most desserts have a high chance of cross contamination so we tend to stick to soft serve ice cream from a machine or we dip into our nut free snacks we brought with us.  Our son will take a Hershey bar over dessert any day.
  • Allergy alert cards can be ordered from SelectWisely as an added precaution.  These cards are laminated and translated into any language you choose and also include pictures of the specific allergen on it.
  • We carry EpiPens on us wherever we go within the resort
  • If our son goes into the kid’s club for a period of time we let them know of the allergy, inform them they are to feed him nothing, tell our son not to eat anything (he’s 7 now so this works for us) and we make sure to take one of their paging devices so they can contact us if need be.

Really, not much needs to change when you are faced with an allergy in the family and you want to travel.  Take some time to do the extra planning and then go and enjoy making memories on your family vacation!

One response »

  1. Pingback: Choosing a Sunny Destination Resort « Vacationing with Kids

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