February 25, 2016 · 9:00 am
Six years ago my sister and I took a trip to Italy. We had a couple of cousins who were studying abroad, and we decided it would be worth it to visit while we had tour guides in both Florence and Rome. (Those cousins are now successful in their fields of architecture and fashion – clearly their time in Italy was well-spent!).
I remember my excitement for the trip. Having studied abroad myself the year before, I wasn’t bothered by the thought of packing, airports, or even jet lag. I was a bit nervous to travel by train in a country where I didn’t speak the language, but mostly I was excited to go on an adventure with my sister!
The trip to Italy was a success, with laughter and limoncello, pizza every day and a postcard sent to Gram.
Six years later, my sister and sister-in-law and I are traveling down to Georgia. Travel within the US with food allergies seems much more complicated and risky for me now than Italy ever did, pre-food allergies. Nonetheless, I have called the restaurants and made the home-made granola to snack on, booked the trolley tour and the hotel and picked out my walking shoes. And I find I have that same excitement building up that I had for our Italy trip. We have time set aside for sight-seeing, strolling around town, and going for tea. I look forward to updating you when we return!
February 3, 2016 · 9:44 am
We’ve now entered the month of Georgia. Plane tickets have been purchased, hotel has been booked, tours picked out (we’ve settled on a trolley tour, although the Segway tours looked pretty cool too). The last step is here… calling restaurants and planning food.
I recently went on a more local trip, to Washington, DC. As travel goes, this was an easy trip. I brought car food (with wraps made from scratch – including the tortillas), and we were able to cook dinner. The only meal not made by me was brunch, which is by far my safest (and favorite) meal to eat out. And even with all that, it was exhausting! It was a good reminder to me that sometimes we have to be patient with ourselves and remember to measure our success by our own ruler, rather than to compare our situation to that of those around us. It’s true for food allergies and it’s true for everything else – it’s not always a good idea to compare to “normal!”.
So as I prepare for Georgia and plan my food, I’m keeping in mind that I need to be gentle with myself and my limitations. I often tell clients in counseling to break down big goals into more manageable ones. I need to do that too. I don’t have to be ready to get on a plane tomorrow, or know the ins and outs of every restaurant in the state. What I do need to do is call a few restaurants whose menus I’ve found to be Johanna-friendly.
I called the first restaurant, and discovered a couple of things: 1. Talking to the chef or sous-chef is the most reassuring and 2. Calling at an off-hour has a greater likelihood of a calm and successful conversation. I spoke with K, a sous-chef, who answered my questions and told me with Southern charm that she looked forward to my visit. She informed me that most restaurants in the area are trained for food allergies and cook from scratch. I found I was more self-conscious about my harsh Northern accent on the phone than about the food allergies! K’s kindness put me at ease, and I hope to meet her when we go to her restaurant at the end of the month.
Maybe this trip can be the first step towards continuing travel adventures in my life, after all!
Lessons in food allergic travel:
-Don’t compare yourself to “normal” eaters
-Be gentle with yourself
-Break down big goals into small tasks
-Call restaurants at off-hours and ask to speak to the chef