Monday, January 04, 2010

9 days, 6 airports, 5 airplanes, 2 airlines and 1 toddler

It has been a busy holiday season for us, as you can can tell from the title of this entry. We have spent a lot of time in airports and on airplanes, and some time with family and friends all over the US. I've discovered a few things about traveling with a toddler that will make future journeys easier, and also some things about traveling (and eating on the go) with food allergies.

One of the things that has truly been wonderful for us are restaurant cards. You can make your own, or print them from various websites, personally I print mine from Food Allergy Buddy. When we go to a restaurant, I give the card to the server with an explanation of the ways in which I would like to modify the chosen entree. So far, I have not encountered any problems. Most of the time either a manager or the chef comes to the table and discusses my son's allergies with me and ensures that the chosen meal is safe. This is excellent, because they are aware of "hidden" allergens that might not be apparent from the menu description, and are able to advise me of alternative options, some of which might not be on the menu.

During the holiday season, my extended family decided to have a dinner out. They chose a Tex-Mex place, and I was understandably a little concerned, as my son is allergic to all dairy. A Tex-Mex restaurant sounded like a trial by fire, but I decided not to object to their choice, while coming up with a backup plan in my mind. Much to my delight, after explaining my son's food allergies to the server and giving her the card, the chef came out and informed me that he has TWO children with food allergies and would make sure that whatever I wanted my son to eat would be prepared in a safe manner. I was ecstatic! Sure enough, his food was dairy (and other allergen) free and everyone was able to enjoy their meal.

I always have two or three cards in my wallet, just in case. They have proven invaluable to me during those times when we eat away from the safe confines of home. I've had managers comment that they love the card, as having the list of allergens written down makes their job much easier. Especially when people have multiple food allergies, it can be difficult for the manager/chef/wait staff to remember and keep track of what an individual diner can not eat. Being able to double and triple check without having to come and ask saves times and lessen the likelihood of errors and decreases frustration and anxiety for everyone. Yippee for stress-free dining!

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