Grace Ellis has a few tips for travellers with dietary issues.
With 6-8 per cent of children in New Zealand suffering from a food allergy, travelling can become a stressful time for the whole family. Put your mind at ease with these useful tips on how to get the most out of your trip — the advice applies for adults with allergies too, of course.
Check your insurance policy
Some travel insurance companies charge extra for those at risk of anaphylaxis. So, before you whisk away to your destination, double-check your child is covered in the case of an emergency.
Alert others to your allergy
Though no flight is completely risk-free for people with allergies, making the cabin crew and passengers next to you aware of the issue can help ensure a safe journey. Have your child sit in the window seat to minimise the likelihood of food being passed over them, and wipe down the seat beforehand. In the case of a nut allergy, some airlines are happy to skip the nut-laden snacks to reduce the chance of an allergic reaction.
Prepare your own food
Though it may seem like an added hassle, it might be worthwhile preparing a meal or two at home for your child to eat on the journey. Many airlines don't take responsibility for cross-contamination, nor do they cater to severe allergies in some cases. Quarantine laws may have restrictions on the types of food you can bring in, so be sure to check these before your flight. Bring a few extra dried or packet snacks just in case. Let's be honest, who actually enjoys airline food anyway?
Carry an EpiPen/Medication
In the case of a severe allergy, flying on an aeroplane can arguably be the most dangerous part of travelling. Though cabin crew are there for your assistance, they can only do so much in helping reduce the risk of allergic reaction. The reality is that no given space can be completely allergen-free. Talk to your family doctor before you travel and make sure you're stocked up with the relevant medication your child needs. Pack spares for extra assurance.
Carry translated information
If your destination does not have English as a first language, a translated emergency card will provide authorities with vital information in the case of an accident.
Three food allergy-friendly destinations
With strict guidelines for food labelling, both local and imported products in Canada must clearly state any contained priority allergens. This includes soy, wheat, milk, egg, seafood, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, sulphites and mustard. Canada is very allergy-aware, with most restaurants having separate menus to cater to people's requirements as well as grocery stores having separate shelves dedicated to allergen-friendly products. Canada also introduced nut-free buffer zones to all its Air Canada flights back in 2010.
2 Walt Disney World, Orlando, USA
For a child with food allergies, Walt Disney World sure is "the happiest place on earth", committed to providing visitors with an unforgettable experience, even when it comes to food. Disney Allergy Menus are available for both regular, kids and dessert menus, with descriptions clearly stating the ingredients of each meal, as well as specific indicators of which foods are allergen-friendly. Wooden skewers reading "Allergy" ensure that the meal wasn't overlooked. Walt Disney World even provides First Aid stations throughout the park with EpiPen auto-injectors and nurses on hand for assistance.
3 United Kingdom
Those travelling to the UK, can rest assured the food labelling is extensive and thorough. Legally having to provide indications of 14 allergens, (compared to NZ's eight priority allergens), restaurants, and manufacturers provide disclaimers and allergen indicators to the highest degree. Eating out and on the go is a breeze, with many establishments showing great allergy-awareness and understanding. From gluten-free Cornish pasties to coconut ice-cream, it's safe to say the United Kingdom is a destination where you'll not only have a great time but be treated to food equally as great.