It’s tough enough traveling with a toddler that’s picky about food. But if your child has a food allergy or sensitivity, it can make taking a trip seem impossible. Food sensitivities make it difficult to eat out, which is often unavoidable or at least the most convenient option when you’re on vacation.
You may believe you can only wait until your child is older, and it’s easier to manage their sensitivity, or they may have grown out of it. However, do not convince yourself that traveling is out of the question. It’s completely possible to travel with a child that has food allergies or sensitivities, so long as you’re willing to do a little preparation and planning.
Below, we go through what you should do before and during your trip when traveling with a toddler that’s sensitive to foods. These tips will not only make sure your toddler stays safe, but will help your family travel efficiently, so you can make the most of your vacation.
Notify The Carrier Beforehand
If you’ll be taking a public mode of transportation – like a bus, train, or airplane – it’s smart to notify the carrier of your child’s allergy or sensitivity beforehand, like when booking your tickets. This will allow the carrier to inform their staff, so they can be best prepared in case your child has an emergency on route.
It’s also smart to look into the company’s allergy policy. See what steps they take to keep travelers safe, and what you can do to further protect your child. For example, many airplanes don’t serve peanut products, but it’s still possible the food could’ve come into contact with nuts.
Additionally, consider wiping down the seat and other surfaces (especially tray table) with a wet wipe to limit potential exposure to allergens.
Identify Reliable Restaurants
If you plan to eat-out a lot with the family, identify restaurants in the area that can accommodate your child’s food sensitivities. Before the trip, do some online research to see what sort of food options the local restaurants offer. Consider even giving them a call to see if they can modify items on their menu, so it works for your child.
Doing this beforehand will ensure you know what options are available, so you’re not scrambling to find something when everyone is already starving.
Bring Snacks & Drinks Along
It can be unpredictable traveling with a child that has food sensitivities or allergies. You may not know whether you’ll find food on-the-go that’ll work. This is why it’s a smart idea to pack with you a variety of snacks and drinks that your child can have.
If you’re on a road trip, pack a cooler bag with different snack and beverage options. If you’re flying, put some in your carry-on that won’t go bad if not chilled. Make sure to bring enough snacks to leave in your place of accommodation so that you have something quick to grab if your child needs a snack pronto.
Book A Hotel Room With A Kitchen
If your toddler has severe food restrictions, it may be easier to cook a meal yourself than go out while on vacation. But this means that a room with a kitchen is necessary. It doesn’t have to be a big kitchen – so long as it has a fridge, microwave, and kettle, you should be fine. Consider making a quick grocery shop when you arrive at your destination and filling the hotel’s fridge. Look for things that are ready-made or can be prepared in a pinch, so it’s more convenient.
Call The Hotel Ahead Of Time
It’s also wise to call the hotel (or whatever sort of accommodation you’re using) to inform them of your child’s dietary needs. If they have an on-site restaurant or continental breakfast, they can inform you if there will be options to suit your child’s needs. Or, they may be able to accommodate if given enough notice.
Additionally, this gives the staff a chance to clear out any items in the room that could be a hazard, like snacks left in the mini bar.
Have Your Child’s Medication
If your child takes medication for their food allergy or sensitivity, bring it with you. Make sure you have an updated prescription and enough of the medication in case your child needs to take it multiple times.
It’s wise to have your doctor’s information on hand in case of emergency (like you lose the medication). Speak to the doctor before your trip to come up with a game plan should you run into trouble with your child’s food sensitivity while traveling. Additionally, identify pharmacies close to where you’ll be staying in case you foresee needing to pick anything up in a pinch.
Please speak to your doctor for more information about traveling with a child that has food allergies and sensitivities.
Sources: Food Allergy Canada, Kids with Food Allergies, About Kids Health,
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