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!
Planning to travel with food allergies is no small task. I’ve done it, mostly for the weddings of family and friends, or for a vacation in a house with a kitchen. Traveling to a place with a kitchen is a great way to travel with food allergies! Shorter trips, though, or trips that involve hotel stays, can be a bit trickier. Those have not been the best experiences for me, mostly because I didn’t plan well enough.
I learned the hard way that if I miss the hotel fruit-and-yogurt continental breakfast option, I may not find another. “I’m sure I’ll find someplace that has a bagel” may not be the case when you take the New Yorker out of New York state. And when you are with a big group, it can be difficult if you don’t want to force everyone out of the Mexican restaurant they’ve been wanting to try.
My solution? I need to get better at traveling. Traveling is not the number one priority in my life, so I haven’t made it a huge priority with food allergies. My private practice, my family, my home… these are my primary focus. I’m up for an adventure here and there, but I’m not hopping on a plane to Tokyo on a whim. That being said, if I want to travel in the future with any sort of ease, or join in a family vacation in the future without inducing panic, I need to make it a priority.
Later this winter, I’ll be traveling for a long weekend to Georgia. Thankfully, I have a wonderful sister and sister-in-law who agreed to join for a short trip to see a new place and support me in practicing food-allergy travel. I’m now researching restaurants and food options in the area we plan to stay. I look up a couple of restaurants, and when I start to feel anxious about the whole thing, I take a break (or plan out foods I can pack with me).
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes! And for those of you reading with your own food restrictions, please feel free to comment with any tips or advice on travel strategies that have worked for you.
I am often amazed and inspired by the home-making abilities of those around me. My sister-in-law stopped by my house and in 2 minutes (with 2 children running around) managed to solve a storage problem that had been lingering for months. (The answer: put the box of bocce balls behind the television!). My boyfriend’s sister-in-law sent us Christmas gifts so beautiful we took pictures of the gift-wrapping before opening the gifts themselves. My sister can whip up a batch of cookies in 20 minutes flat. My parents can, with their powers combined, put together brunch for 30 of our closest relatives with 30 minutes notice.
I’m not there yet. I’m the one with a box of bocce balls sitting by the back door because I don’t know where to put them. I aspire to be able to whip up cookies in 20 minutes flat. I may make my own tortillas, but “from scratch” doesn’t necessarily mean “easily from scratch” or “quickly from scratch.” It’s more like “awkward and messily from scratch.”
As I attempt to grow from messy to graceful, I find inspiration in those around me, including other blogs. Most recently, I’ve begun to enjoy Hallowed Be Thy Home (http://www.hallowedbethyhome.com/), written by the aforementioned gift-wrapper. She shares her wisdom on wreath-making and other projects, as well as tips on green living that can be sustainable, healthy, and supportive of local endeavors.