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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

mumat39 Wed 27-Mar-13 22:51:08

Hi again everyone.

Thanks again for all your replies.

I haven't got anywhere with finding somewhere I feel comfortable booking yet. Last day at school tomorrow so not looking like we'll be going anywhere at the moment.

Scilly, that's a really really good question and I've asked DD's allergist at every appointment she's had and his answer is always, 'that's the million dollar question!' According to him, my DD's list isn't as bad as some of the kids he sees. shock

I have also heard that 2 atopic parents are more likely to produce an allergic child, but that doesn't mean they will. It's funny as throughout the whole of my pregnancy with DD I was seriously worried that my baby would be allergic to something. I sometimes wonder if I've somehow psychosomatically caused my dd to have so many.

I also really struggle to deal with the reality of this. I am on AD's for anxiety as a result of this and am soon to start counselling to help me deal with it. My DD is amazing and just accepts it, but I worry everyday that she'll have a bad reaction. sad Sounds dramatic, but when she's at school, I don't go anywhere too far away at all just in case.

I so admire Eragon and FreeFromMum and others who seem to deal so well with this.

I'm an awful cook too and am paralysed by fear. I was feeling really brave that we sould go on holiday, for the reasons Eragon listed but I'm driving myself mad with over researching things and tripadvisor isn't helping. It very confusing when the one place can get rave reviews as well as also being really poor confused

If I'm honest I don't want o have to cook if we're away, so keep looking at hotels but then realise that 'm still too scared to hand over the prep of food for my Dc over to someone else. Like I said I'm driving myself mad, or at least more mad than I already am hmm

Thanks again everyone, and hope you all have a lovely easter holiday!

trixymalixy Sun 17-Mar-13 23:51:43

I wish we knew Scilly. I did everything "right" that was supposed to protect my DC from allergies. EBF to 6 months, avoided xyz in pregnancy, pets in the house, filthy house wink. But sadly two atopic individuals created a multiply allergic child.

I've had people on here not believe my DS's list of allergies. It's not quite as bad as mumat39s but not far off sad.

babybarrister Sun 17-Mar-13 21:39:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ValentineWiggins Sun 17-Mar-13 18:29:38

Just for reference I know that Disney in Florida are REALLY careful with allergies - if you tell the waiter you have an allergy the chef (at least at the table service restaurants) has to come out to talk to you about what is safe and what isn't.

At least that's what we saw when we were there...

freefrommum Sun 17-Mar-13 18:19:50

Loads of theories Scilly but no definitive answers sadly. I think the only thing that the researchers agree on is that a family history of asthma, eczema, hayfever and/or other allergies tends to make it more likely that a child will have allergies - it's called atopy. In our case, DH has asthma, eczema and allergic to nuts, I don't have any of these but have 1 brother with asthma plus 1 with eczema so I guess I carry atopic genes too. Poor DS has the lot, bless him, asthma, eczema and multiple food allergies while DD has hayfever and allergy to animals (plus coeliac disease but that's unrelated to atopy). I do feel for mumat39 as I know how hard it is coping with DS's allergies and his list is no where near as long as her DD's!

ScillyCow Sun 17-Mar-13 16:58:41

I don't want to hijack the thread.

But can I ask a genuine question? Is there a theory about why some people have so many allergies? Looking at the list I was absolutely shock that one child can be so allergic to so many things.

Ilisten2theradio Sun 17-Mar-13 16:54:20

Oh ,I didn't know about the celery.
I think that there were other flavours too, so maybe you can find something suitable. Note airlines don't have microwaves - you will have to heat it in boiling water - but may be a good standby when away.
And i know it is no good for your DS but for others - we bought some dehydrated pasta ones too. apparently they were ok - just needed boiling water added to them.

harverina Sun 17-Mar-13 09:25:02

I hadn't thought of them either, they would be handy in lots of situations. Mumat39 know that there is a plain option which you could add to.

mumat39 Sun 17-Mar-13 08:58:44

Thanks Ilisten.

I've never even thought of those uncle Ben options. The chicken flavoured rice has celery in which is a shame but I'll have a look and see what others they have. Thank you. Hope you're having a good weekend.

Ilisten2theradio Sat 16-Mar-13 12:37:21

Ohh I bought it in Sainsburys. Not sure if i can remember what brand it was thin it was something like's+savoury+chicken+express+rice+(250g).html?storeId=10317 and you can do it in a microwave.

Also for cooking in a microwave, buy some micowave steam bags. they seal up and you can cook things like small chicken pieces in them easily - I'm experimenting at work with the microwave for lunches at the mo and have had some Ok results.- best with marninated chicken though.

mumat39 Thu 14-Mar-13 12:59:48

Oops, posted without saying thanks so much.

mumat39 Thu 14-Mar-13 12:59:31

Ilisten, do you make your own dehydrated chicken and rice or do you buy it? Would you mind linking to the relevant recipe or site you buy from please?

mumat39 Thu 14-Mar-13 12:46:40

Hello again everyone.

I've found a hotel that has a kitchenette with kettle, fridge and microwave. I don't really use a microwave other than for heating up food, so was wondering if this would be enough to prepare the odd meal? I'm going to write o the hotel to see if they would be able to provide safe foods for my DD but just wondered whether it's doable if they can't with just a microwave?

Thanks again so much for all your help and advice.

freefrommum Thu 14-Mar-13 09:23:25

My pleasure maybe, hope you enjoy Table Table.

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!

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.

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

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

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 !

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 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

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


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.


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.

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!

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)

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