Just recently my little family took a quick trip to Florida. It was so nice and warm and sunshine-y and we were able to have a really nice visit with family. Also, we timed it just right and got to miss the messy blizzard that dumped 24 inches of snow in my neck of the woods!
This vacation was our second time flying with the kids. Flying really freaks me out, flying with kids even more so and flying with a kid with severe food allergies and asthma puts me right over the top. I’m always a stressed-out-mess at the airport. But, despite my freaking out, it has always gone incredibly well. I wanted to share some tips with you for flying with a child with severe allergies. It can be frightening but I have found that doing lots of research and being really well prepared have helped things to go smoothly.
1. Talk with your Doctor – Before flying with JT the first time we made a quick call to his allergist. We just wanted to be sure that he didn’t have any major concerns with us flying, which he didn’t. JT’s peanut allergy is not his most severe, but if he comes into contact with it, even on his skin, he will have a reaction. For us that was nerve-racking enough, I imagine if your child would have an anaphylactic reaction just from breathing in air that has peanut particles in it, it would be even more nerve-racking and your Doctor may have different advice for you.
2. Research your airline – We have flown JetBlue both times we traveled with the kids. This is because after a lot of research I found that I was most comfortable with their peanut allergy policy. (Although peanuts are not JT’s most severe allergy, they are the most widely recognized. They are also the one most likely to be served on a plane.) I also found that JetBlue seemed to have pretty happy customer reviews regarding food allergies. Some airlines may want you to call and inform them of the allergies ahead of time, some will have you wait and inform an employee as soon as you get to the gate. It’s best to know what is expected of you as a passenger.
3. Pack a lot of snacks– If you have a child with food allergies this is probably second nature to you. You just can’t count on airport snack stands or airlines to have safe snacks for your kids. So pack enough for the airport and the flight, with the possibility for delays.
4. Be prepared with medications – For JT it is essential that we always have his Epi-pen, Albuterol and Benadryl. I make sure I have the original packaging with his name on it for these medications (this may mean re-ordering from the pharmacy) and put them all together in a quart sized zip lock bag. Any other medications we need to bring I to put in the checked luggage. Here are the actual TSA regulations.
5. If your airline will not create a peanut free buffer zone around your child, create your own – This is something that JetBlue normally does for you. They alert the passengers in front of and behind you of the allergy and ask them to refrain from eating nut products. On one particular flight the attendants did not follow through on this and I was getting impatient so I just kindly explained our situation, introduced JT and asked that they not eat nuts. Everyone was super understanding and sweet and agreed without as much as an eye roll! I found introducing JT to be especially effective, he’s very cute!
6. Ask to board early and disinfect your area – Whether this is part of your airline’s policy or not it can’t hurt to ask. As soon as we board I break out the Lysol wipes and clean our armrests, seats, belts, tray tables and window area. I do everyone’s seat because the kids sometimes want to switch up their spot mid-flight.
7. Clean hands often – This is something everyone traveling should do but is especially important for allergies. When you can’t get to a sink your best bet is to start with antibacterial gel followed by a wet wipe.
8. Wear a medical ID – If your allergic child doesn’t already have some sort of medical ID, it’s time to get one. JT has a wristband that he wears to school or when we are out in public. He doesn’t mind wearing it at all. I even had his little sister wear an ID bracelet (not medical) this trip just in case she were ever seperated from us.
That’s it…Now try to relax so you can enjoy your trip! I always find that being well prepared, even overly prepared, is my best defense against my own nerves. What other advice would you add for families travleing with food allergies?