Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any medical concerns we suggest you consult your GP.

How to holiday abroad with a multiply allergic 5 year old.

(39 Posts)
mumat39 Mon 25-Feb-13 16:59:47

Hello everyone.

As Easter is approaching I'm starting to think about what we might do during the school holidays. I'm thinking about maybe oing abroad, but can feel my heart beat starting to quicken just at the thought.

My DD is 5 and is allergic to lots of different foods? They are
Tree Nuts
Legumes incl. peanuts, beans, lentils, mung beans, peas, soya, chick peas kidney beans etc, so we avoid ALL legumes
Sesame - advised to avoid all seeds
Rapeseed oil

Up until now I have been very scared at the prospect of flying, but have done some searching here on MN, it does seem that people do manage. It would be lovely to get away and get some sun and some quality fun time together. Last year I braved holidaying in a self catering place. This worked out ok, but the weather was miserable. I took lots of home made frozen food with me which made it seem a bit like a holiday for me too. The year before we drove o the south of France. Ut DP is saying he won't do that again unless we have a stop over. I can't see how a stop over where you have to find somewhere to cook would work. I also took all the meals for the DC so all I had to make on the individual days were things like rice, sausages and gf/wf pasta. I even took pots and pans and cutlery, as DD is very prone to reactions caused by cross contamination. sad

I feel like my fears have held us all back and I need to try and take control and not let this stop us from enjoying out lives a bit more.

So, what do I need to do to plan for this? I need to know what the plan of action would be before I could even contemplate actually booking somewhere. If that makes sense.

Is there anywhere in particular, in Europe, that you would recommend? Or avoid? How did you deal with meals for the family incl. our allergic DC? We don't even go to restaurants together as there's usually nothing DD can eat and on the couple of occasions I've tried o I've her food that I thought would be safe, she's reacted.

Am I mad to be even considering this? Can I trust an airline to be completely reliable in terms of ensuring things like nuts are not on the flight or is that unreasonable?

I know about translation cards but that is about it. I know we have to carry DD's meds and that we would need a letter about that. And I k ow I have o check travel insurance to make sure this is covered.

Sorry for the long post. Many thanks in advance for any help. smile

eragon Tue 26-Feb-13 10:07:51

we have similar lists and have been to france, italy, spain, usa so far, we do eat in restaurants and do self cattering.
if we eat out we choose fries and burger, or something similar in france. for instance.
Euro camp places provide pans and kitchen stuff, you wash them first when you get there, rather than cart your own!

We have a list of agreed rules before we eat out, for instance,

we sometimes walk out of restaurants if we dont get a good vibe from wait staff or chef.
we keep some safe snacks if finding a decent place to eat is problem to give us more time.
we use the translation cards, with great success.
we pick safe plain foods, with no sauce, so that everything is visable.

flying , i took his food, he ate rubbish, but was happy with that!
also took about 6 epi pens and other meds in seperate kits iyswim so that if we lost one, we had another.

in usa we did the RV thing,so that was a combo of eating out , bbqs and me cooking. we have always had the option of self cattering, but use holidays as a time to try new safe foods.
for instance, catfish in USA is ok for our lad, and he was confident enough to try something like that, but in france wasnt brave enough for snails!

I think its vital to keep on going on family holidays, even though my son does worry, in the end he is more relaxed, and feels more confidant about food and having fun. we dont care about eating healthily during these times, if its safe, he can eat it.
our food allergies for our son, peanut, brazil nut, legumes, egg, yeast extract, kiwi, strawberry, mango,(oas).
intolerence for daughter, milk (cant have anything from an udder) soya.

understand the stress levels, totally. it aint a holiday for mum sometimes.

mumat39 Tue 26-Feb-13 10:22:32

Thanks Eragon.

We never eat out in the uk as I've never found anywhere that could cater for DD, or at least never felt confident that anywhere could.

What does the RV thing mean?

I just spoke to some at BA customer relations and he said that they don't offer nut snacks on most of their flights apart from in business class on certain flights, so we would avoid those. Obv I understand they can't stop people buying and eating nuts that they carry on board.

I was wondering if there are places that are maybe all inclusive for me and DP but with self catering options too. Not sure if they exist.

In the past I've taken enough food with me for the whole week or two weeks but that's probably not so easy on a flight.

Thanks for replying. A lot to think about but it's good to know you've managed it with so many allergies to consider.

MegBusset Fri 01-Mar-13 17:20:00

Marking my place. No advice but we're going to France this summer with DS1 who's allergic to peanut, egg, sesame, chick peas and lentils. We're self-catering (Canvas tent) and I am envisaging eating a lot of plain pasta, and pizzas!

eragon Fri 01-Mar-13 17:21:29

we are going to france this year. am getting the translation cards out again!

trixymalixy Sat 02-Mar-13 20:13:21

We're just back from our skiing holiday with multi allergic DS and we had no allergic reactions in our catered hotel. They cooked DS something separate from the buffet for every lunch and dinner. It was either chicken/steak/fish with rice or potatoes and some veg, so not very adventurous, but safe. We took our own cereal and milk, but there was soya milk and yoghurts available at the buffet. There was also a choice of gluten free bread, cereal and cake, but not necessary for us.

We used to always go self catering, but I don't have the energy for skiing and cooking! We went full board last year too with no issue.

We have flown many many times with DS with no issues. We got asked for our epipen letter for the very first time on the flight back.

Even in a small ski resort supermarket there was a range of dairy (although all soya) and gluten free products.

DS is allergic to a similar list of dairy, eggs, legumes, seeds as your DC.

trixymalixy Sat 02-Mar-13 20:14:18

We were in France btw.

harverina Sat 02-Mar-13 23:39:22

I wrote a huge reply earlier and then managed to lose it!

Trixy and eragon your posts and attitudes really inspire me and give me hope. My dd is almost 3 and we have known that she had sever allergies since she was 6 months, though only has her nit allergy confirmed at 18 months. However I am still so nervous about...everything!! I would love to go abroad but everything about it scares me. We went self catering to Cornwall last year and it was brilliant.

We made sure we were staying near a McDonald's and a supermarket which was easy enough. When we ate out anywhere else we took a packed lunch/meal for my dd. this was fine but I would love her to have more options. We used to let her have chips when we were eating put ms just make sure nothing else was being fried in the oil but we have even stopped doing this as we became very nervous after her nut allergy was diagnosed hmmI feel like i am letting her down - my insecurities are being imposed on her and its not fair. I want her to grow up yo be confident choosing from menus when she is eating out and confident enough to walk out or ask for specific ingredients/preparation. I hope we can become more confident.

I suppose we could replicate our Cornwall holiday abroad anyway in terms of being near a supermarket etc.

In terms of nutrition/wrong rubbish...we didn't worry too much when on hol. We went to McDonald's 3 times which we thought was reasonable and probably not that much more unhealthy than other restaurants anyway! Jam sandwiches came in very handy on the long journeys! grin

harverina Sat 02-Mar-13 23:41:57

Sorry for typos I'm using a new phone and still getting used to it... And mumat39 sorry didn't even mention you in my post! I'm watching with such interest as I have all the same worries hmm

eragon Sun 03-Mar-13 11:28:55

the more often you try and eat out side home, the more confidant you become. So here below are my opinons on eating outside the home.

It's vital as parents that you get confidant in this skill of asking staff questions and finding safe solutions when eating out.

1) this is a social experience thats important for development.Even if they bring their own food, or only eat one type of safe food, etc.
2) that children wittness as they grow up how you handle things, even if they go wrong. that you are seen to learn from them.
3) that the childs views and confidance in asking for themselves is taken on board as they grow older.
4) Childhood is short, although we hope that outgrowing will happen, there is a good chance it wont, so dont waste time teaching your child the future survival skills they will need.

my son is 17( today, I feel so old now!) and has been buying his own food to eat outside the home for quite some time.
slowly he is gaining confidence and trying new foods, and asking more questions.
This is after a year of non stop reactions, so any confidence in this area has returned slowly, but is still there. This i feel is down to our continued attempts over the years to go on holidays abroad, and occasionally eat outside the home.

I hope this is helpful.

harverina Sun 03-Mar-13 14:13:40

Eragon your right.

I just feel that every time she eats she is at risk hmm I need perspective sometimes.

We eat our fairly regularly but aside from McDonald's, my dd will have her own food. I think we need to get better at trying to order - like you suggest even one safe food, I hadn't really considered this before, as usually part of a meal is unsafe but that doesn't mean my dd can't have anything.

Ok, new resolution to order for dd on restaurants...even vegetables to start.

Do you worry about cross contamination?

eragon Sun 03-Mar-13 16:15:31

yes.that part of the questions you ask.

be bold. once I walked in to the kitchen of ikea and checked everything. (it was fun!)

get good eye contact with manager, smile, be confident, explain that this is how we make food choices for our child.

you arent being critical, you are asking for a way to find something safe to eat. if you are friendly enough, and can judge on their response you can move forward. then u can make your choice to stay and eat or simply go and find another place. Which we have done over the years.

eragon Sun 03-Mar-13 16:23:34

everyone is at risk, EVERYONE,its a normal part of life.

and with food allergies we have the medication to treat should and when a slip up happens.

when your child is older you will teach her to cross the road, and then one day, she will have to do it on her own. this is a RISK.

when you get in a car you put a seatbelt on her, and you teach her to put on on herself. you explain why. this is a RISK.

riding a bike without a helmet on the road is a RISK.

its the same for allergies, its starts the moment she can understand that she has to check food is safe to eat with mum and dad.

then moves on to learning her name and learning what nut or egg look like on labels.
then you show her what nuts and eggs etc look like when you are shopping.(know your enemy!)

all the time, at every step you are teaching her the important things so that she can learn about her condition, understand it, and have the empowerment one day to put everything you have taught her in to action.

its isnt simple, but being a parent never, ever is. which is why i tend to over eat chocolate and drink wine ....!!!! cos we aint perfect, and certainly feel bonkers with the stress that this condition brings to our family!!

harverina Sun 03-Mar-13 18:27:40

Thanks eragon and sorry mumat39 for taking over your thread.

harverina Sun 03-Mar-13 18:30:37

You are so right about taking risks all the time, we do it every day yet I am making my dd's allergies out to be so much more serious/dangerous when probably she is more likely to get hurt doing something else - like riding her bike which she was doing yesterday (with a helmet)

Ilisten2theradio Sun 03-Mar-13 18:45:52

Hi mumat Ds's allergies are a different set - eggs nut fish seafood sesame and cocoa.
We have been to Italy, France,Cyprus, Greece and Australia with him.

We always go self catering so that there is the possibility of cooking something if we can't eat out.

When we eat out we choose something Plain and "Safe" - eg steak and chips, etc.
Italy is qite good for GF pasta - available easily in the supermarkets. i think in French supermarkets too.

My DF is coeliac and he takes bread, biscuits etc in a suitcase when he travels and even staying in a hotel gets the kitchens to cook it for him. That has never been a problem, just sometimes a bit of a pantomime explaining and pointing at the instructions.

I too am a bit hmm at cross contamination esp in big hotels and buffets, so have never dared try that .

We usually eat lots of v simple food - slaads, BBQ etc on hols so I am not cooking much.

We stayed overnight when driving to the South(ish) of France. Had steak and chips for dinner, and we took cereal and frozen milk with us so DS could have breakfast, and a packed lucnh ( freeze sanwiches and use a cold box for 2nd day). There are always supermarkets to shop in and buy something safe - if a bit boring.

If you are flying a long way, we have taken dehydrated " chicken and rice" packets which just need boiling water and the airline have made them up for DS.

Although it stops me staying in posh hotels, it has not stopped me going somewhere warm on holiday. As eragon said you have to learn to manage the risks - and that is the toughest bit - controlling your own fears.

Good luck!

okiecokie Sun 03-Mar-13 21:53:56

I have had a bad experience and a great one. Both occasions we were staying in very nice hotels. My son has multiple allergies. I asked the waiter in the restaurant to arrange for him to have his own pasta which I provided (he is allergic to wheat). We were on holiday with friends who also have a little boy he also had pasta. Unfortunately the pastas got switched and my son got the wrong one. We had to call an ambulance and spend some time in hospital as a result of a full on anaphylactic shock. Having gone through this I was not put off going on holiday again, I just learned a lot from my mistake - the main thing being I did not fully advise the hotel in advance. I would advise the following:

- No need to avoid hotels. Before even confirming your booking make them aware in advance that you have a child with allergies and check that they are prepared to make special allowances for him/her. Get the name of the person who agrees this.
- arrange to meet with the hotel manager as soon as you arrive and explain the situation.
- Take plenty of your own provisions. I always take plenty of GF pasta, bread, pitas, bread sticks, pizza bases, cereals etc and ask the hotel to keep in their freezer if the pack is open. I take a lot of food backs so I can seal them up and write his name on.
- I discuss (with the same person from the hotel) each day what my son is able to eat that day and check it is going to be prepared in a safe way.
- allow your child to have lots of treats that they don't usually have at home. They are on holiday too and this is what holidays are about!

Try not to stress about it. As long as you are prepared you should manage just fine.

mumat39 Mon 04-Mar-13 08:43:04

Wow! Thanks so much for all your replies. as Haverrina said, it is really inspiring to me too.

Haverina, you've not taken very the thread. Infact, I could have written our post, ESP the bit about my fears stopping my dd from enjoying life a bit. sad

I'm surprised that I'm even considering flying tbh! We have also done 2self catering holidays to Cornwall and one to south of France and we drove each time. The drives have been quite long, ESP to France but the weather was pretty terrible on all 3 occassions so it's the draw of the sun that is calling.

I've been on Anti depressants for a while and even last year I was adamant thati wouldn't fly with DD, just in case...

The cross contamination issue still really worries me. When we went away, I took everything with me. Pots pans toaster cutlery plates cups and all the ood we would need, including a cool box full of frozen food so I only had to make rice and pasta each day. It's madness when. Think of it! Complete madness!

Dd has lunch at school, usually jacket potatoes and cheese but has also tried a few other things and apart from the odd minor reaction, she has been fine! Only one if those reactions were to do with food! The others were possibly from crumbs in pe and some were just one of those pesky things that couldn't be attributed to any one thing! Sometimes it feels like she's allergic to thin air! I hope I don't jinx Dd now and cause her to have a serious reaction at school! The number of imes I have thought, 'ooh, we've had a few weeks of no reactions' and allow myself to feel pleased about how well she's doing, every single time I've thought that, she has a reaction the same day, so I find it hard to be positive, if that makes sense.

Eragon, your posts are excellent! You are so right about the everyday risks to everyone!

Because DD is allergic to SO many things, I've never been confident about talking to staff at restaurants about her allergies. For example, steak and chips sounds lovely and simple, but what if the oil they use is used for something else, or has rapeseed or nut oils in it, or the pan used for the steak was used to also cook a sauce that had wheat in it?

Dd is anaphylactic to wheat and it seems to be in everything. I tried to get chips in JL one time but although they were fried in their own oil, the fryer was right next to the one used to fry freshly battered fish so the chef said he couldn't be confident that it would be ok!

Would you recommend any resorts in Spain that were good for managing allergies, ESP multiple ones?

I'm looking for somewhere which has self catering accommodation within a hotel complex, and easy access to the beach. I've found somewhere in Portugal which is an option. DP speaks a little Spanish so Spain, maybe one of the Canary Islands might be a good option.

Also, could I take a cool box, packed with frozen food onto the flight as part of checked in luggage? this one is the one I have and it kept our food nicely frozen on a 16 hour drive to the south of France, near Cannes?

Is there anything I need to be aware of if I take food in checked in luggage?

The stress that my anxieties cause, not only me but the Dc's and DP is just nt ood, but how do I manage to make myself trust others, ESP in hotels and restaurants, to not 'poison' my DD?

Apologies for not replying to each of your posts, but they are all equally helpful and I really appreciate all your help.


mumat39 Tue 05-Mar-13 14:51:17


mumat39 Tue 05-Mar-13 15:05:13

Oops. Not sure why I posted just a full stop hmm

Anyway, I've been thinking and retreading your replies and the fact that some of you have managed hotel stays has got me wondering if this might be possible for us.

I could REALLY do with a break and I know that if we go self catering I won't get one.

Okiecokie, can I ask which brand you use for the gf bread, pasta, breadsticks etc that you mentioned?

I use doves pasta and Ener-g gluten free loaf but have never found any other brands so wondering if I've missed any.

Thanks again

freefrommum Tue 05-Mar-13 15:45:08

Have to say, that I too struggle with the worry about cross-contamination and lack of understanding in restaurants/hotels etc. We have a house in Spain so regularly travel there but most of the time we make picnics during the day and the DC eat in the house quite often in the evening (DS has severe multiple allergies, DD is super-sensitive coeliac - oh the joys!). I speak Spanish so can easily read food labels, menus etc and speak to restaurant staff but I get too embarrassed and worry that I won't be taken seriously. I find it hard enough in this country, let alone abroad! I know it's silly but I always think people will think I'm making it up, I mean who has one child allergic to milk, wheat, eggs and nuts AND another child who can't eat gluten? To be honest, it still sounds ridiculous even to me! I know that I need to overcome these fears and show my children how to confidently ask staff about the safety of their food but I'm not quite there yet. Reading eragon's posts has made me realise that I need to work harder at this.

We do eat out but only at a very limited number of places (unless we take own food for DS). Table Table and Beefeater are good as they have detailed allergy info available online that I can check beforehand. Eating out with just DD is pretty easy these days as more and more places are catering for coeliacs plus, while I would obviously be devastated if she was ill after eating out, I know that it wouldn't be life-threatening unlike with DS. We sometimes order a plain salad for DS and take our own tin of tuna/sardines/ham etc - not ideal but an acceptable compromise for us. We also occasionally take our own freefrom chicken nuggets in a thermos to McDonald's so the DC can have the fries, drink and toy plus the 'treat' of going to McD's like their friends (DS will eat a plain burger with no bun but DD refuses).

mumat39 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:12:56

Thanks again freefrom mum smile

It must be great having your own place somewhere warm. It must take a lot of the stress of travelling abroad away.

I've just been looking at a package on expedia with Monarch. I did a quick google to see what their policy is on things like nuts for allergic passengers and stumbled across an air travel forum nowhere some started the thread off with a comment about an allergy announcement on the flight. I'm really surprised at how resentful other passengers feel at being asked to not eat nuts or the fact that the airline won't be seeing them. I am always a bit shocked by this kind of attitude. One person said why should the majority 'suffer' for the sake of one person. I mean really? Suffer? Not having nuts to eat on a flight = suffering for some. shock hmm sad angry confused

I honestly think I would have a lot more empathy than the majority of the population if my dc didn't have allergies. I hate the I'm alright jack mentality -alot-- of people have !

mumat39 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:21:39

Airline won't be selling them, not seeing them. blush

okiecokie Thu 07-Mar-13 22:19:19

mumat39 My son can mange egg if it it baked so that widens our wheat from range considerably. I used to use Ener-g bread but now as he managed egg most GF are fine. Dietary Specials for bread sticks. Amisa for pizza bases and crispbreads, Naturespath cereals etc.

maybeyoushoulddrive Wed 13-Mar-13 13:51:01

Thank you freefrommum for mentioning TableTable restaurants. I am the allergic one in the family and am fed up being the one who causes problems if we try to eat out. There is a Table Table near my parents so I can suggest going there. flowers

My heart goes out to all of you with allergic children - I really hope as they grow older the world becomes a more tolerant and enlightened place towards those with allergies. I haven't braved travelling abroad since all my allergies appeared but you have made me more optimistic!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: