Traveling abroad with children and food allergies

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Our son has a SEVERE egg allergy.  That includes anything with eggs or egg products, cookies, pastries, most breaded foods, some breads, and even some candy.   We have to read labels very carefully. We often find foods he is allergic too hidden in unsuspecting items.  Once,  we found a hard candy lollypop containing egg whites at a theme park.

With a few precautions and a little planning a person with food allergies can travel safely to almost anywhere home or abroad.  A few tips and tricks from our travels:

1.  Choose a destination that is right for your family.  All inclusive resorts are a lot of fun, however you will need to call ahead to make sure they can accommodate your child’s food allergy during every meal.  Consider a renting a condo and making your own meals.  This way you KNOW the your child’s food will be safe.

2.  Research the area and know the closest hospitals and clinics in case of a reaction.  Having appropriate medical care available and knowing how to dial the local emergency number is essential.

3.  Be careful when eating out.  Talk to the chef prior to ordering.  Make sure they know the ingredients your child needs to avoid.  Most restaurants will be more than happy to accommodate your requests.  Know how to state your child’s allergy in the country’s local language if you are traveling abroad.   We have made index cards in various languages detailing the food items we need to avoid.  There are also several food allergy translation apps available for your smart phone.

4.  Pack extra snacks and medical items.  Find easy to pack snacks that are safe for your child.  Make sure to have any emergency medicine such as an epipen on hand.

5.  When attending a hotel/resort kids camp send your own allergy-free snacks.   We pack enough dry snacks in our luggage to offer something each day if we cannot purchase needed items locally.  There is generally a good selection of fruit he can eat for snacks, but it is nice to have our own version of a dessert when the other kids are enjoying an afternoon cookie. Tip: Carry an extra epipen prescription and allergy action plan from your doctor in case you need a refill or have issues in customs with any medicine or special food items in your luggage.  Often times pharmacies in foreign countries will honor your prescription.

One of the biggest problems we have is people randomly offering our child food that would cause him an allergic reaction.  They are trying to be “nice” but too often the cookie is in hand by the time we intercept.  He has started wearing this button during times when we might be around other families or food events (resort events) where people may try to be “nice” by offering him food.

Some packing essentials:

*A copy of your child’s prescriptions from the doctor along with his/her allergy or asthma action plan.
*2-3 Epipens.  One in your carry on bag and one in your checked luggage.
*Medical Alert Bracelet.
*2 Inhalers, children’s Benadryl and any other medicine on your action plan.
*Nebulizer and albuterol in case of respiratory reaction (if indicated by your Doctor).

Our toddler doesn’t completely understand his allergy but he remembers one of his bad reactions.  We constantly remind him that eggs “make him sick.”   He is beginning to recognize items, such as cookies, that he should avoid.

Some easy-travel snack ideas (depending on your particular allergy):

*Pre-packaged rice crispy treats – they are small enough to stuffed into various pockets of your luggage.  We can also take them to restaurants for his “dessert”


*Divvies allergy free pre-packaged cookies – This is a wonderful bakery that ships their nut, egg, and dairy free items directly to your door.

*Enjoy Life Brand Allergy Friendly Foods – Free of most of the common food allergens. Found at most grocery stores.

*Goldfish & Cheerios

*Fruit Snacks

*Graham Crackers

*Pretzel Sticks

Remember to take snacks to restaurants so you will have “emergency” options in case you are uncomfortable with the menu.

Finally, consider purchasing medical trip insurance that covers any emergencies or even transport home.  We purchased insurance for our entire family for around $36 during our last overseas vacation.  Thankfully we didn’t use it but the cost was worth knowing we would have transport back to the states in case of emergency.

We have taken several vacations since learning of our son’s egg allergy.  We have not experienced any problems and have had an absolute blast!  Don’t let a food allergy spoil vacation memories for your family.  Be careful, plan accordingly, and if you aren’t sure – don’t eat it!

Be sure to post your tips, comments, questions below.  Consider “liking” us on facebook for more fun family vacation information!

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13 thoughts on “Traveling abroad with children and food allergies

  1. Christine

    These are great tips. We don’t have food allergies but have friends that do. Its a good reminder for, even when they are just with me for a day.

  2. Sara

    Thanks so much for these amazing tips! We have a family trip coming up and I’ll definitely be checking back on this post 🙂

  3. ERFmama

    Thanks very much for this! We don’t have food allergies in our own family, but I do have close family and friends who does have this, so this was very helpful!

  4. Kathy

    A great post full of great advice. I am so lucky that I don’t have any of these issues with my four, but can imagine how stressful travelling with a child with allergies must be.

  5. Agy

    Most places, especially in Asia, are not aware of allergies like they are in the West. I remember asking the chef whether they had peanuts in it, and because of cultural differences, he thought I meant “whole peanuts” and so he responded “no”. Unfortunately, it had peanut powder in it and it was downhill from there! I specify – crushed, whole, powder, peanut butter – the lot!

    1. Allison Post author

      Thanks for the tip. We may be visiting Japan within the next two years and that is good to know ahead of time.


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  8. Natalie

    Thankfully my food allergies are mild and as an adult I can watch out for myself. It is scary to think about a child! You have laid it all out clearly and simply here. EXCELLENT! I’m going to share!!

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