Traveling with Special Dietary Need
Traveling with Special Dietary need
When you have special dietary requirements, it is not as easy to travel as for people who do not, but it can be done! It takes a bit more planning than for families who can just jump in the car, train, bus, ship, or plane and eat anywhere. Many people do it all of the time, and now more and more places are not only willing to accommodate, but also willing to go out of their way to help! Keep in mind, though, eating out can be risky!
Food Shopping While Out of Town
Before you leave home, you should search online for stores that carry allergy-free foods such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Print out maps for the locations to which you will be traveling, or traveling through, on your vacation. This way you will know where they are located and how to arrive at the destination. If there are not any major chains that carry a good assortment of specialty allergen-free foods, then search for Health Food Stores.
There are several registries online that list restaurants and bakeries that can provide special dietary menus or have staff with allergy-free knowledge: If you are going to a specific location and do not have enough locations listed in the resources box, search online for the city and the dietary needs that you require such as “Chicago Dairy Free”. You should be able to find links to restaurants. That way, it will help you locate the best places to patronize.
When dining out, it is often a smart idea to present an allergy-free card. These wallet-sized cards can be handed to the server to explain details about your special dietary needs. They are available in various languages. There are several sites in which you can purchase these cards.
Since the airlines do not allow ice gel packs, use frozen peas to keep your allergy-free foods safe for plane travel.
One of the best ways to travel, if you have special dietary needs, is a cruise ship. Contact the ships’ dietary department at least ninety days prior to sailing to notify them of your specific needs. Cruise ship food service employees are usually very well versed in the special food needs of their patrons.
Other exceptional places that are very allergy-friendly are the Disney parks. For California, call 1-714-781-DINE. For Florida, call 1-407-WDW-DINE (neither has a toll free number). If you give them enough advance notice, they will send you lists of food locations and restaurants in the park that accommodate your special dietary needs. Disney employees are very knowledgeable about special foods and are happy to work with you to assure a wonderful food experience. Often they will send the chef to your table or the manager to the counter to help. They usually are quite knowledgeable about cross contamination and will serve the special diet foods separately from the regular selections ordered by other guests.
Another great allergy-friendly theme park is Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, located in Santa Claus, Indiana. They offer an array of foods that are free of the top eight allergens. The parks’ 500 employees are specially trained to understand food allergies and intolerances. http://www.holidayworld.com/park-tickets/food-snacks/
Legoland has also joined the bandwagon for understanding food allergies and intolerances. San Diego (Carlsbad), contact 760-846-0876 or california. Dietary Guide Contact them at least 72 hours, prior to your arrival. Legoland Florida, in Winter Haven will be opening in October 2011. Search for their dietary guide in their search location for assistance.
Windsor, UK, contact the park at least 48 hours prior to arrival, allowing for more time, during peak times. www.legoland.co.uk/Terms-and-Conditions-container/Dietary-Requirements
For Legoland in Germany and Denmark, contact their food service department to inquire about how they can assist you.
Most amusement parks are very good about allowing you to bring in your own food and beverages, if you tell them prior to them searching your bags, that you or your child is on a restricted diet. It might be wise to carry a doctor’s note, stating so, just in case they ask you for proof. If someone gives you a difficult time, go to Guest Relations.
Some wonderful companies carry backpacks coolers. They are ideal for traveling. Here are some online companies where you can order one:
These backpack coolers are ideal for hiking, biking, picnics or any type of excursion while traveling for the day or longer.
When traveling in the United States, you can get a refrigerator delivered to your hotel room for free, if you contact the hotel ahead of time explaining that you or your child has dietary needs. If they tell you there is a charge, mention the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and you will get your refrigerator free. This is a legal accommodation for someone with a disability or disorder, requiring special foods.
Vacations should be a wonderful experience for family time and bonding. Do not let food restrict your time together. This helpful guide should open a lot of culinary doors for you and your family! Bon Appetite.
Barrie is the author of The Autism & ADHD Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide To Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) And Others Interventions Her web site is: www.puttingyourkidsfirst.com
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- Travel Tips for Parents of Children with Sensory Integration Issues
This post originally appeared on our May/June 2011 Magazine