Those four words make my heart race a little faster at the customs desk. If you have a child with allergies, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Travelling with allergies can be tricky (and sometimes stressful!) but after years of dragging our own food and medications around the world, I think we have the hang of it now. My biggest adventurer is allergic to dairy and soy and has been from a very young age. He is now four years old and at this point it doesn’t look like he will grow out of it.
When he was 10 months old we took him on a family holiday to Fiji. We had an entire suitcase dedicated to baby food, medicated formula and other medication for our 10 day trip. The suitcase weighed 26kgs!! When we got to customs and they asked “any food to declare” I looked at my husband and prayed that they’d let us bring a suitcase full of food in. Thankfully most countries allow packaged unopened baby food and formula to be brought in – in fact I’m yet to travel anywhere with the kids where this is not allowed. Even when we travelled to Hawaii with our biggest adventurer at 18 months old we were allowed to bring in food and formula for him.
The reason I like to bring our own food for our son (more so when he was younger) is that I have found that other people don’t necessarily take your child’s allergies seriously. When I would ask a waiter whether something contained dairy or not I would often get the response “it’s probably okay” or “it doesn’t have much” – my child’s health is not something I like to gamble on! Recently on an international flight I had pre-ordered a dairy and soy free meal for our biggest adventurer. The hostess placed the meal in front of him and announced that it was cheesy potato bake. When I explained that he couldn’t eat it she said “oh, I didn’t know dairy meant cheese as well!” Umm ok. Lucky I packed some crackers and chips for him 🙂
I have also found that other countries don’t seem to be as sympathetic to people with allergies as we are here in Australia. I still remember ordering a pizza for my son overseas and asking for egg on top instead of cheese. It was like I was speaking another language. The waiter said “I’ll have to get the chef to talk to you”. When we explained what we wanted to the chef, he reluctantly agreed to make it but walked away shaking his head saying “why would you want a pizza without cheese!”.
Do your kids have allergies? How do you cope when you travel?