I’ve had so much fun working with this incredible team this year! Looking forward to big things in 2018 over at http://www.allergytravels.com.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
I’ve had so much fun working with this incredible team this year! Looking forward to big things in 2018 over at http://www.allergytravels.com.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
When I put my guitar down, there are many other hobbies and interests I have at the end of the day. One of my greatest loves is TRAVEL!
I have owned and operated http://www.allergytranslation.com for ten years now. It’s a website that allows users to create customized cards that feature their allergens translated in foreign languages. They are super helpful whenever I travel internationally to help communicate my allergies and severity at restaurants.
Over the past year I have been working hard on another travel related project, this time with a team of three other wonderful allergy advocates. We wanted to create a hub for people with allergies who are searching on information to travel internationally with food allergies. With that, http://www.allergytravels.com was born! It features:
As a special promotion to kick the site off, we are offering some prizes to one lucky person! All you have to do is leave a review before the end of August to be eligible. Simple! Leave a country or airline review today and help grow our community of international knowledge!
Talk about niche blog topics, not only will this article focus on travelling on the road with an infant, but also covers info for musicians taking their babies on tour with them!
When I told people that I was going on tour this winter, they thought I was crazy for several reasons. For one, touring in winter can bring about awful snowstorms and cancelled shows. Secondly, how on earth are we going to travel with a 3-month old baby without the comforts of home?
Looking back, not only did we do it. We would do it again in a heartbeat. However, I would imagine it being more difficult as she gets older (e.g. 7-12 months when more aware of her surroundings).
It wasn’t easy, and it took a ton of planning, but we had the most special family adventure with moments that will last a lifetime.
Let’s break it down.
February 1 – March 25
Two Weeks – Bay Area, California
Five Weeks – North East U.S. – NY, NJ, CT, MA, PA
The Pit Stops
As I gear up for another solo tour, I know I will be reminiscing a lot about this special family adventure we had. Thank goodness for FaceTime!
I had a great childhood. I played baseball, rode bikes with friends, played hockey on the pond and played maybe one too many video games! However, there was one common connection to everything I did – I was close to home.
With all of my food allergies, summer camp was only something I heard about through movies. Although my summers were great, they were generally confined to an area that circled around a particular epicenter – my kitchen.
This is why I am THRILLED to hear of places like Camp Emerson in Massachusetts. As a proclaimed “Food Allergy Specialist”, they pride themselves in providing a worry-free experience for campers and parents alike.
What’s really impressive is that they “walk the walk” too…and then some with incredible attention to details. Here are some of the things that impressed me most about Camp Emerson that could give peace of mind to prospective parents:
The Food Situation
The Kitchen Situation
The Staff Situation
I can go on, but I recommend you take a look at their brochure all about campers with allergies: http://www.campemerson.com/future_families/food_allergy_specialist.
It wasn’t until college that I entered the summer camp world as a staff member at a camp in Ontario. It was an incredible experience that kept me coming back – 5 summers in total! It opened my eyes to the value of camp and the countless benefits it provides children. Camp Emerson has generously supported my tour and DVD as a sponsor, and I am thrilled to endorse them, as I believe they are trailblazers setting gold standards for how camps can accommodate allergic campers. They share my belief that food allergies shouldn’t be a barrier for summer camp.
I know their spaces are filling up fast, but here are more details for this summer:
For more information, visit http://www.campemerson.com, or pick up the phone can call:
Sue Lein, Owner & Camp Director (she’s so friendly and fantastic!)
My absolute favourite thing to do in the summer is to go on canoe trips! I admit that I am Canadian to the core – I love hockey, maple syrup, and have spent most of my summers either in a canoe or with a canoe on my head. However, the thing that draws me in every summer is nature. Going into the backcountry lets me fully check-out of the real-world craziness and turn off my phone and email for days on end. It makes me get back to basics and appreciate how lucky I am in life. I always end up leaving completely refreshed, not to mention sore!!
Last week I went on a quick 3-day trip with my wife and a few friends. I always volunteer early on with my canoe trips to take on the meal planning as I want to ensure everything is safe for me – and delicious for all.
Canoe Trips and Meals
With car camping, you have the luxury of bringing lots of food, coolers, and sometimes having access to electricity. With backcountry camping, you must be much more cognizant of how much your food weighs since you will be lifting it on portages, and paddling it around lake after lake.
I usually bring safe hot dogs for the first night and cook them right over the fire. I freeze them ahead of time so they thaw and are still cold by the time we eat them. For a snack afterwards, roasted marshmallows of course!
For breakfast on this trip, bagels with pre-cooked bacon and cheese hit the spot! I topped with Sunbutter too which was a hit with everybody else. One even thought it tasted like a gourmet peanut butter!
Lunches consisted of wraps with beans and fresh peppers as well as cheese and crackers. Our other dinner was gluten-free pasta which was a good hearty meal to refuel after a long day of paddling.
At the end of each day, we hung up our food in a bear hang up on a tree branch to make sure we kept our food to ourselves!
I own a little camp stove that hooks up to a small butane canister. It’s quick and easy to make hot meals and my morning cappuccino (allergy-safe powder mix). I also make sure that I have my own cutlery set. Even though everything is allergy safe, I’m always conscious of cross-contamination with gluten since my wife has celiac disease. I bring a medium sized pot and pan with me which I wash thoroughly with lake water after each meal. I also have a water pump and drink my water out of the lake with it. I sometimes use juice crystals, but the lake water by itself is surprisingly good.
What about the GORP?
GORP stands for “Good ol’ Raisins and Peanuts” and is another word for trail mix. It goes without saying that this is usually the biggest problem for those with allergies out in the bush. I make sure to communicate with everyone that I’m tripping with about packing a nut and peanut free trail mix. I pack mine full of raisins, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, dried strawberries and dried cranberries. It’s delicious!! A perfect snack after a long portage holding a canoe above your head.
What about Keeping your Epi Safe?
I pack my Allerjects in a waterproof sack along with my wallet and car keys. I treat this bag like a bag of gold on the trip. It’s never out in direct sunlight and is always packed securely. I have never noticed my epinephrine being too hot from the sun, or too cold (luckily I haven’t tipped my canoe and got this bag wet!). You can get these bags at your local camping store and are great for any summer activities around the water.
Try Camping with Allergies!
Never backcountry camped before? I highly recommend it! Be sure to do your research beforehand and plan a trip that is an easy first step into the wilderness. Parks usually have helpful people that are willing to recommend beginner friendly routes and trips that appeal to families. Biggest tip is to triple check all of your food you pack out before you go.
It’s great to get out into the bush, but after all of the mosquito bites and sore joints, it’s nice to get back and dream of my next trip!
I love vacation. I always have such a hard time checking out of “work-mode”, but once I’m officially on vacation, I embrace it and never look back! Such was my one week “Roman Holiday” to kick-start my summer.
As I noted in my top ten travel tips blog, food is really not a big deal to me and I don’t travel for the sake of trying local cuisine. But…I was a bit curious on this trip as Italy is so well known for food.
Determined to eat more than McDonalds on this trip, I really planned ahead with my usual preparations including buying travel insurance and packing nearly a quarter of my suitcase with non-perishable snacks.
The Whole Language Bit
The most important thing that I purchased in advance was an Italian Allergy Translation Card that listed all of my allergies in Italian (peanut, tree nut, egg, fish, shellfish and mustard). This is a service that I created a few years ago, but recently relaunched the website with newly designed cards. I created it after my first trip to Europe and did not feel comfortable dining out with the language barriers.
Although I found the language barrier to be minimal (Rome is a pretty touristy city!), my very first meal was in a back alley spot off the beaten path. The translation card was really essential at this restaurant and gave my wife and I peace of mind when the waiter confirmed the risotto was safe for both of us (she has a celiac disease card).
Italian Pizza Was My Main Meal
Restaurant after restaurant, we had very positive experiences. I generally stuck to pizza and was able to speak to the wait staff in English using my translation card to reinforce the severity.
Gluten-Free Options a-Plenty
My wife was in gluten-free heaven and managed to find a restaurant with a full gluten-free menu and indulged in gluten-free pizza. Another night we bumped into a restaurant serving gluten-free pasta. There were also gluten-free snacks widely available in vending machines which was pretty cool!
Catered Buffet Meals…Thank Goodness for Fruit
The only times where I found it difficult to find safe food were at catered events that were part of my wife’s work obligations. I’m used to sticking to plain salad and didn’t mind not being to eat anything off the different platters. However, when the fresh fruit platter came out, I was a vulture! Score one point for the hungry guy who loves fruit!
Lunch Money went to Museums
I saved my money on lunch everyday (and spent in on museums instead) by making sandwiches and stuffing them in my backpack. I brought the bread from home, but bought fresh meat from the supermarket. Out of anything, finding a supermarket seemed to be the most difficult thing of all. I might consider looking up nearby shops close to my hotel/flat before I go again.
It’s funny that I accidentally left this until last, however I was so busy sight-seeing everyday that I didn’t spend too much time in my flat! We booked a private apartment through www.airbnb.com which came with its own kitchen. This is my preferred way to travel. I loved being in a non-touristy university area where I could get a taste of local life in Rome.
All in all, it was an amazing vacation that left me feeling refreshed and energized after many months of touring and work. I’m not sure if I’ll go back anytime soon, but am glad to cross another country off my list of places where I feel confident in managing my allergies while abroad.
I never really set out to get bit by the travel bug. After all, I applied to only English speaking countries when I applied for exchange in university. As a last option, I put down Sweden as my Dad went there a few times and spoke really highly of it. Guess where I ended up….Sweden! After spending six months there in an international residence with students from around the world, I was hooked.
I ended up meeting my future wife while on exchange and we continued to travel around the world together ever since. We’ve travelled on every mode of transportation with both multiple allergies and celiac disease, and have now been to 4 continents.
I get asked quite frequently “how do you manage travelling with food allergies”, so I thought I would write one comprehensive article that I can link to in the future versus short FB messages etc.
Disclaimer – These tips are coming from an allergic adult male. I don’t have children and my strategies work for me. If you are looking for more tips on how to travel with children with food allergies, I highly recommend looking at FARE’s resources as travelling with kids is an area I am not remotely familiar with. Thanks for understanding!
Tip # 1 – Plan Ahead
My trips literally just “pop up” and it’s rare that I am ever aware of a trip more than 6 months in advance. I don’t go overboard with advanced planning, but it is very important for me to get a sense of comfort for where I’m going.
What does this involve? Google. I Google allergy-friendly restaurants, places that serve gluten-free pizza for instance. I Google the local emergency number (911 is not worldwide). I Google what the local traditional recipes and dishes are so I’m already prepared when I encounter a menu with confusing items. Buy a travel book, ask on an online forum – just get a good overall feeling for the food and allergy scene in that country. I also highly recommend www.allergytravels.com where you can read reviews, tips and more on a country by country basis.
Tip # 2 – Purchase Insurance
This is a given, but still important on anyone’s list who is travelling with food allergies. I have heard horror stories about the costs incurred after seeking medical attention for a reaction. Personally, I would never want the thought to cross my mind that I simply can’t afford to get a serious anaphylactic reaction treated properly. Get insured! I use American Express travel insurance for every trip.
Tip # 3 – Accommodations – Home on the Road
I am flexible with this as I believe most places should be okay. I do prefer however having my own kitchen that I can cook my own food in. Not only does this help with budget (restaurants get pricey on vacation!), but I’m also a really hard person to feed for breakfast because of my serious egg allergy. I love breakfast at home. I really enjoy using www.airbnb.com to find accommodation in a more house/apartment style.
Tip # 4 – Allergy Translation Cards
If travelling to a foreign country with a foreign language, I strongly recommend getting an Allergy Translation Card made in advance. Do NOT get your translations through some free app or online tool. They are riddled with errors and I want to be taken seriously when I try to communicate my life-threatening allergies in a restaurant halfway across the world. I print a couple copies for my wallet as well as save the image on my smartphone. I then study these new words and become familiar with them and check for them on ingredient lists.
Tip # 5 – Bring Your Own Food
Does that mean bring a whole suitcase full of food? Well…sometimes yes! I travelled to China last summer and did exactly that. I had little confidence that I would find much to eat through my initial research (see tip 1!) so played it safe and brought a full suitcase full of food for a 3-week trip. When I arrived I was so glad that I did. The first day I bough a hot plate and cooked nearly all of my meals on the floor of my hotel room (a lot of rice and pasta). Doesn’t seem glamorous does it? That’s fine by me – travelling is not about food for me – it’s about culture, museums, landscapes, people and the local wines and beers 🙂 I also always have a lot of small portable snacks like granola bars that keep me going on day trips.
Tip # 6 – Be Adventurous, but Not with Food
I stick with what I know when travelling and usually take a step back to get back to basics. I visit the local supermarkets and purchase meats, fruits, veggies – things that you find on the outer ring of the grocery store. I speak with the people who make the bread on site and cut the meat. It’s comforting. For fast food, I’m a sucker for McDonald’s. I’ll admit it. It’s consistent and safe. I know there are healthier options, however I love their salads and treat myself now and then with some fries or a burger.
Tip # 7 – Airlines – Do What Your Comfortable With
This is different for everyone so it’s hard to give too much advice here. I will focus on the absolute musts – ALWAYS bring extra epinephrine and NEVER eat the airline food. I pack an amazing lunch/dinner for myself and don’t feel like I’m missing out at all. Don’t take the risk! There are many other things you can do in terms of requesting a buffer zone with some airlines, wiping down your tray table, sitting on a sheet and more. Check with your airline in advance to see if they have a specific policy. As an adult male who has flown dozens and dozens of times, I am okay with a more minimal approach. I have had passengers beside me bring out bags of peanuts, and I simply asked them to refrain and offered to buy them a drink. This happened on a couple occasions and they were more than happy to help, and didn’t even take me up on the drink offer! We ended up having great conversations about allergies afterwards during the flight.
Tip # 8 – Wear MedicAlert I.D.
I wear my allergies on my sleeve, literally. My MedicAlert bracelet is a staple on me when I travel. I like that it lets others know that I have a medical condition, but I especially love that paramedics are trained to look for this, and it has an international toll-free number where they can access my medical records. Isn’t that cool? And I love the different styles offered – I personally rotate through a dog tag necklace and a leather cuff. Check out www.medicalert.org or www.medicalert.ca.
Tip # 9 – Know the Food Labelling Laws/Guidelines
I would recommend this if you are planning on staying somewhere for an extended stay. Here is a really handy study that compares labelling guidelines around the world. I find it handy to know which countries call out all of my allergens on labels such as mustard (Canada & EU) and which ones aren’t mandated to (U.S., Asia). It’s also important to know the regulations (if any) regarding precautionary labelling (i.e. “may contain” statements). It can get very tricky, which is why I prefer fresh food when travelling compared to local pre-packaged food (see tip #6)
Tip # 10 – Have an Amazing Time!
The best part about really planning ahead and having all of your details figured out before you leave, is that you can really enjoy your trip once you’re there versus worrying all the time! Don’t let allergies slow you down! Don’t let food rule your trip. Eat unhealthy for a week if that’s what it takes – just don’t let allergies ruin your trip of a lifetime. Enjoy all of the amazing things that other countries and cultures have to offer – and remember to share how you did it to the food allergy community afterwards. The more we share, the smaller and more allergy-friendly this world becomes. You can leave your country review for others at www.allergytravels.com.
Do you have any additional allergy travel tips? Please feel free to leave as a comment below. I would love to hear from you!