How to travel with multiple food allergies?

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We have taken the plunge finally. We are going to visit my grandmother's in NJ - something I have been afraid to do since Aiden's diagnosis.

My question is - how do you do it with multiple food allergies? Thankfully in some ways, we will be driving. However, that means two days on the road (traveling from Atlanta to NJ). My parents will be traveling with us and almost never eat at fast food restaurants and unfortunately never at Mexican restaraunts (Aiden has been okay with Taco Bell's hard taco and pintos n'cheese). The hotel has fruit and cereal for breakfast. I read that Bob Evans can be unsafe or vary per location. I feel relatively comfortable from a PA standpoint with Sonny's Real Pit BBQ.

However, I'm also dealing with soy, wheat, barley and egg allergies - as well as avoiding nuts and several legumes. We have slowly been introducing wheat and soy. We haven't let my son have bread yet, but we have used some flour in breading and gravies (under 4T for an entire meal). I have been lax on soy as well - I won't give him soy milk or tofu, but it is a part of his diet in miniscule amounts (learned early on I couldn't even avoid it formula, just bought formula that had the least amount in it). However his reactions to egg and barley have been very clear - reactions just short of administering the Epi-pen.

I had hoped to find food along the way in restaraunts because my son has become picky - most meals would need to be heated for him unless I bought them at Taco Bell. Plus the idea of traveling two days with food that could potentially spoil scares me. I also have concerns that someone would pull an "Applebees" and kick me out. I wonder if I could use the fact that he will only be 20 months old at the time to my benefit if I had to bring food in.

When we get to NJ, I feel a little better having food for him. My parents love to eat at diners but having access to both my grandmother's kitchens to cook meals for him will help. I would never let them cook for him - one grandmother thinks buying cans with labels is frivolous!!

Any help you can give me would be awesome! This makes me so glad that Connor is still breastfeeding (though he is showing signs of an egg allergy)!

------------------ Mommy to Aiden (1/26/05) PA,wheat,barley,soy,egg and others yet to be discovered and Connor (7/21/06) who we hope will be AF

On Aug 22, 2006

From experience? Bag "nutritionally correct" for the road.

Not with MFA, anyway.

Give him what he'll eat and what makes him happy. Bring fruit (we use the applesauce or dole fruit cups which are shelf-stable) or fruit rollups, whatever he'll eat. For fiber. Corn tortillas-- does he like tortilla chips? And give the little man Taco Bell. The adults can be reasoned with. (Unless I am badly mistaken, this is less than, er-- LIKELY with a 2yo.)

We rationalize this by reassuring ourselves that DD eats sooooo healthily most of the time that a few days of junk food every year doesn't even get her anywhere close to "average" on that score. [img][/img]

OR-- you can buy a cooler that can plug into your car... (we finally did this- best money we ever spent.)

Have fun on your trip!! [img][/img]

On Aug 22, 2006

I am at the point of being so unconcerned about fast food it's not funny. We are so happy when he hits the 5% mark as far as weight goes on the growth charts it's beyond funny. Now that he is being a pain when it comes to eating, I do stop once or twice a week and pick up a taco and pintos n'cheese for him (taco one day, pintos the next). We have been giving him hot dogs and lunch meat with preservatives. I'm a bad mommy!

Since I fought and still fight the weight battle it is so hard for me to understand an underweight child! Trying my best to keep him on the charts though.

------------------ Mommy to Aiden (1/26/05) PA,wheat,barley,soy,egg and others yet to be discovered and Connor (7/21/06) with possible egg allergy

On Aug 22, 2006

I think you have two great suggestions. We also pack lots of healthy snacks. Some not so healthy, but like it was said before, my kids eat so healthy most of the time compared to any kind of average I don't worry about it (although it can screw up little digestive systems though). You are not a bad mommy because you feed your kid hot dogs! I personally do not give my kids hot dogs anymore, but that is where I am now. They got more than their fair share when I needed to cope! Do you what's best for ALL of you (that means you too).

On Aug 23, 2006

We're not dealing with all the same allergies as you (we're MA, PA, EA) so I don't know how doable this is...

I bake some shelf-stable favorites that are somewhat healhty and bring them with us. I also pack a cooler bag full of stuff I know is safe (although you'll be travelling for 2 days -- maybe get an ice pack and change it out??)

Good luck!! My friend just did a trip with her almost 2 y/o milk, egg, and soy allergic (2 nights) and she thought she'd go crazy with the prepacking, but she did it [img][/img] Meg

On Aug 23, 2006

I call ahead, after googleing HFS's around the towns Im going thru.

Then I say 'What do you have in stock/can order?'

then we stop for lunch where we can.


------------------ [b]* Obsessed * [/b]

On Aug 23, 2006

you've got some great suggestions here.

my dd is PA and dairy allergic. when we go on vacation we always bring her food. we bought a cooler from home depot that keeps ice for 5 days (and it really does!), so that we are not constantly changing ice and worrying about food spoiling. it wasn't any more expensive than the regular coolers and came in a few sizes. it really has helped a lot for longer road trips.

On Aug 23, 2006

Hi there I have a son who has multiple food allergies -- corn, soy, peanuts, treenuts, carrots, coconut, apples, bananas, strawberries, cantaloupe, as well as dog latex and ragweed.

We just did our first trip since all these came about last nov. it was a 4 day vacation with only 5 days in a car but we stayed in a hotel so no cooking only microwave. There is not really fast food for us plus my son doesn't like what fast food he can have. We packed enough food and variety for 2 weeks [img][/img] packaged oatmeal, dry cereal, prebaked mini muffins, then we found shelf stable hersheys low fat chocolate milk in the boxes, and some juice, graham crackers and a jar of sunbutter, little containers of shelf stable fruit, raisins, gold fish, we bought yogurt when we got there and we knew that he would eat pizza hut since there are a few things that are safe for even him.

Our trip went great and we saved a lot of money because it is the first vacation we didn't really eat out. Now I will say we were hungry (my husband and I) but it worked out fine.

My son was also low on the charts -- 34 pounds at 5 however after we found all these FA and removed them strictly from his diet - 9 months later he is 42 and doing great!

hope some of these ideas help!

On Aug 23, 2006

Taco Bell isn't soy or wheat free, by a long shot, just FYI.

I often carry my own potato toppings and then get a baked potato *uncut and still in the wrapper* from Wendy's.

Are you taking I-95? In Fredericksburg, VA, there is a Baja Fresh. If you get your food grilled on foil, you can make sure it's soy and wheat-free. There's a Five Guys there, too, but it's not a good place for someone with contact reactions to peanuts (they have peanuts for eating, they fry the fries in peanut oil). It's great for someone with soy and wheat allergies, though (protein-style burgers, safe fries).

I carry tortilla chips, hummus, whatever dips I like, veggies, etc. I generally carry a portable grill and grill my lunch/dinner at a rest area. A coleman camp stove is invaluable for times like these--I can just heat water and make noodles or tasty bite Indian food.


On Aug 23, 2006

We've done a couple of car trips with my son (allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, egg)and we pack as much food as we can. As well as providing safe food, I think it is comforting to him as he is in a strange place, but still has familiar food that won't make him sick.

However, the food you bring won't always last the trip, so what I do is search for Whole Foods or other health food stores along the drive or near our destination. That way, when we run out of safe foods we know where we can get more.

Mommy to William (PA, MFA) age 4 Tara (gluten intolerant) 10 months

On Aug 23, 2006

We travelled throughout Europe with a toddler who was allergic to or avoiding all of the top 8 allergens. We packed single serving oatmeal in little bowls that we added hot water to, single serving boxes of cereal, canned chicken, single serving sizes of canned fruits and veggies (or you can use Gerber Graduates), rice cakes, raisins, applesauce and juices.

If you bring a cooler, you can add in milk (or acceptable substitute), deli meat, cheese and yogurt (or acceptable substitute), fresh fruit and veggies, precooked grilled chicken strips...

Chiquita is selling prepackaged sliced, peeled apples that would be fine in a cooler.

Plan your itinerary and research your restaurant choices ahead of time if you really want to eat out. If you asked here, some of the members who live near I-95 could probably tell you which restaurants are OK/unsafe at different exits along the way.

Are your parents supportive and willing to live with your family's restrictions? If not, you may need to split up at mealtimes.

Honestly, eating out with MFA is so tough, that it's easier and safer to pack your own.

On Aug 23, 2006

OR-- you can buy a cooler that can plug into your car... (we finally did this- best money we ever spent.)

Corvallis Mom,

Where did you buy your cooler? I remember seeing them about 10 years ago and would like to buy one now. We're considering a (round trip) 1500 mile vacation this December to visit family and friends.

What brand is your cooler? (So I can google it.)


On Aug 23, 2006

Ours is a Coleman. Ummm, it is... about 22 inches tall, holds about 12-14 cans of soda (not that this is what usually goes in it) and and white?? Oh, it heats or cools, and it plugs into a car or an outlet (takes two adapters).

Seriously, it has been about five years, so I don't recall any of the info about what model it is or anything.

We got it at GI Joes.... but this is a NW regional place, I think. I'll see if I can find it's equivalent on Amazon or something...

ETA: here's the link.. but it looks like maybe it is hard to get now. But very very reliable. We love ours.


[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited August 23, 2006).]

On Aug 23, 2006

My DD is peanut, dairy and egg. Travelling has been a concern for us too. What makes it even tougher for us, is that DD is very very picky.

If we stay at a relatives house. It's pretty easy. We just grocery shop for her upon the arrival if we need anything. We tend to travel with her favorite snacks anyways.

If we stay at a hotel, which we did this Summer for 4 days, it's a bit different. Since she is so picky, it's a bit tougher without a kitchen. But what we did was carry a loaf of bread, soy nut butter and grape jelly around everywhere. She was very happy eating that at every meal. We offered her things that we ate that were safe and she either chose to try it or not. Plus, she had all of her snack food too!

Before we left for our trip, DH and I wrote a list of everything she eats, that we could bring with us. That really helped [img][/img]

We also have silk soy chocolate milk in the "juice box" size, so that made it special for her!

For us, the hardest part, was just taking the plunge and preparing! Once we were on the trip, it was easy [img][/img]

On Aug 23, 2006

krasota - I know Taco Bell is not wheat or soy free. We order the hard taco and add no sauce - he has not had any reactions. We are slowly introducing wheat and soy in small quantities because we think he is outgrowing.

My parents are supportive, though not necessarily knowledgeable. My father is very good at asking questions though. He terrorized the clerk at the Honey Baked Ham store who told him "I'm sure it will be fine." He did the same at Sonny's recently - demanded to see the bottle of oil.

Thankfully I discovered a local shop (within 5 miles of our house) that carries or will order most of Aiden's "special" food. Previous to this we had to travel over an hour because the shop closest to us put the allergy free foods next to the make your own nut butter bar! Uh duh. I plan to stock up and take lots of options with us.

When I started making the list of things to bring last night, I am beginning to wonder if we will need to rent a trailer to pull behind. Traveling with two kids under the age of two - aye yi yi! Now I know why my parents didn't take a vacation (other than visiting family) with us until we were in high school!

------------------ Mommy to Aiden (1/26/05) PA,wheat,barley,soy,egg and others yet to be discovered and Connor (7/21/06) with possible egg allergy

On Aug 23, 2006

Corvallis Mom,

Thanks for the link! Since the coolers are unavailable, I checked Coleman's website; and they have 3 models. They don't list dimensions, so I have contact them for more info.

If anyone else is interested, Coleman's website is [url=""][/url]

On Aug 23, 2006

I also suggest a plug in car cooler. We bought one several years ago at Target. The brand is Vector, and I'm pretty sure they still sell them. It also comes with an adaptor that you can plug into a traditional outlet. It's happened a few times on the road that the hotel we stay in doesn't have a fridge, so it really comes in handy! It was well worth the money, maybe around $50-60.

It's large enough to hold a half gallon of milk standing upright, plus numerous smaller items, like yogurts, cheeses, cold cuts, etc. Any small packaged perishables. (sorry I couldn't remember the other allergies your son has as I'm posting this)

We drove from upstate NY to Florida last month, and passed through Atlanta on I-75/I-85 (we've done this the past 3 summers)...such a clean city, and never any traffic any time we've passed through!

Hope you don't mind me asking, which routes you're taking? We skip I-95 in the summer months. Too much traffic, can't stand it through all the cities (it's been a while, I think there are tolls too). We go (from Atlanta) I-75 through Tennessee to I-40, then I-81 (somewhere past Knoxville TN) all the way north for many, many hours. You'd probably get off in Pennsylvania somewhere to crossover to NJ. (without looking at a map right now) If you belong to AAA you could get a good Trip-Tik map. (forget Mapquest!!) The ride is so much better in my opinion, less congested, less commercial then taking I-95, no tolls, beautiful through all the mountains! I wouldn't go this way in the winter with the mountains and snow.

Another tip I just thought of since this is a road trip and you have little ones...My sister gave me a book called, "The Next Exit". What a great gift! It's a book about what amenities are at every exit off of every major interstate highway in the US. It's great to keep in the car. You can plan ahead to see what is coming up...gas stations, restaurants, rest areas, hotels, hospitals etc. The book is updated every year. You can find it in any major bookstore, or I'm sure online.

Best of luck to you and have a wonderful time! I know it's not easy taking a long road trip with 2 babies. I've been there!

On Aug 23, 2006

We travelled to NC last month with our 2 girls, 3 & 19 months. We bought a car cooler and it was a lifesaver!

DD is allergic to dairy, soy, peanuts & eggs. She does not eat out - ever. I'm just not ready for that! I took all her food and made several things ahead of time like muffins, cookies and sloppy joes that she likes.

We stopped at a rest area for lunch and had a picnic. For dinner, we made sure our hotel had a microwave and a fridge in our room. We heated DD's dinner and took it with us when we went out to dinner. Once we reached our destination, we had a full kitchen.

I took small boxes of her rice milk along for breakfast and her favorite snacks like mandarin oranges in the little containers. It took planning, but it wasn't too bad.

Good luck!

On Aug 23, 2006

I don't know if you can consider it for future trips (since there's a chance you'll be dealing with this for a while) but consider buying a travel trailer or RV. We finally did this but not until my son was in high school and I wished we'd done it earlier. It was soooo nice taking our own kitchen with us where ever we went since MFA are so difficult for us to manage in restaurants. We also decided it would be a "disaster recovery" solution for us - we could stay in our trailer rather than deal with MFA in a shelter in a disaster.

------------------ Jana


On Oct 17, 2006

Well we survived...

I packed two Luv's boxes (double pack size from Target) full of "Aiden food". Lots of variety and let nutrition slip some, but we had raisins, oatmeal, Gerber graduates, fruit snacks (aka baby crack), Enjoy Life cookies, Healthy Times Teddy Puffs, Kix, etc. Also finally took the plunge and did serious research on finding a good vitamin for him.

We picked up The Next Exit (THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE SUGGESTION!) and consulted it nearly hourly. Even if you don't have food allergies, I highly recommend this book. Like many reviewers, we did wish it had hotel numbers - next trip I will make a list of the major chains 800 numbers.

We did some experimenting prior to our leaving and tried a variety of fast food restaraunts. Had luck with Arby's, Wendy's and Taco Bell. Was willing to do Burger King if we had too. Mind you this is meat only, no bun. Three cheers for Wendy's for introducing healthier alternatives! Aiden had his first kid's meal - hamburger, yogurt and milk! Okay, probably something I shouldn't brag about, but it felt good.

I did break down and allow one grandmother to cook for him and she did a great job thinking ahead to other meals. She made a turkey meal one night because she planned to make lasagna later in the week - she planned ahead so Aiden could have turkey leftovers. It was nice to see him eating healthier and frankly, I think he was tired of "coffee pot oatmeal".

We went to a few diners (my parents love them for some reason) and did well with mashed potatoes and hotdogs (which were boiled). Both diners were great about answering questions and bringing food out first for Aiden, which allowed me to cut it up and get him started before he got too antsy.

We also went to Chicago Uno's. Big drama there. They have this wonderful computer out in the lobby that allows you to research ingredients - big high five for that from me! HOWEVER when I mentioned Aiden's soy allergy the waitress came back and said they didn't want us to order from the grill, how would fried chicken fingers be? Ummm, really bad since he is egg allergic (plus I try to avoid fryers). Okay, it took the waitress, manager, district manager and myself to determine he could have the burger. Apparently the french fry salt's last ingredient is soy. I thought I was going to have to sign a waiver that said it would be okay if his burger was fried on the same grill that fried other burgers with this salt. I was desperate, tired and trying not to freak out. No reaction. (Later that night he picked up an open Snickers that was in the shopping cart he sat in for an hour - talk about major panic attack).

We did have one reaction and if my head had been on correctly, it probably wouldn't have happened. On Friday night we went out for one more diner dinner with my parents. This diner didn't have hot dogs, so I ordered a ground beef patty, mashed potatoes and corn. This was the first time we had eaten at this particular diner and I didn't ask any questions. What was I thinking? Oh yeah, 7 days of dealing with two kids under 2 and a husband who was of little help...I was fried. Anyway, they bring out everyone elses dinner...then 5 minutes later bring out Aiden's (I swear this waitress was snookered). It was on a bun, I guess I just assumed ground beef patty meant bunless. So I cut it up and let him eat...well 5 minutes later he has hives all over. Have benadryl, will travel. The waitress came out and we asked what was in the meat and then explained Aiden's allergies. She comes back and says it's 100% beef. It dawned on my parents, my husband and I all at once...they fry eggs on that grill. The manager came out and I think we all came to the same conclusion. I am bothered that I didn't think or ask - but worst of all, he isn't outgrowing this egg allergy that my allergist said we would be done with when he was two.

Thankfully he survived and with any luck, the counseling he will need because Mommy keeps trying to make him sick won't cost me much!

------------------ Mommy to Aiden (1/26/05) PA,wheat,barley,soy,egg and others yet to be discovered and Connor (7/21/06) with possible egg allergy

On Oct 20, 2006

We've gotten pretty good at this after 11 years at it...

Our rule is to never take a chance on the road, period. Even though fast food is supposed to be standard, we've had issues between different franchises. As a result, we pack a microwave now (cheaper and more dependable than a room with microwave), a crock pot (liner also fits the microwave) and an electric frying pan. It's not exactly traveling light, but it's just worked out to be easiest.

We stage meals for the days we're traveling so we know what we're going to have each night and lunch. We pre-freeze meals that can then thaw over time in the cooler. By night three, it's usually omelets in the skillet. We stop at rest stops with electrical outlets for lunch and some dinners. At resorts (especially internationally - I don't take chances where the hospitals are terrible), we'll start dinner in the crock pot.

We've traveled all over the US and Caribbean. It's not easy, but it is doable. I can even make cookies on the fly in the microwave by now!

On Oct 20, 2006

Oops, just saw you're already back. Did want to mention though after reading through the thread that Honey Baked Ham has soy protein in the flavoring. Not a fun thing to find out on Christmas morning.

On Oct 20, 2006

I didn't know what Honey Baked Ham had in the ingredients but my father knows what Aiden's allergies are. When he asked the woman kept saying "Oh, it will be safe." He finally started yelling the he wanted to know the exact ingredients because it could kill his grandson. The woman came back in tears and said it wouldn't be safe.

It's an easy question, with an easy answer. If you don't know, don't say it will be fine! Argh!

------------------ Mommy to Aiden (1/26/05) PA,wheat,barley,soy,egg and others yet to be discovered and Connor (7/21/06) with possible egg allergy