Tag: Travel

Travel Update- Delta is the Best Allergy Friendly Airlines

Delta plane

I made a few posts several weeks back regarding various trips we have taken with our food-allergic boys and how well we were accommodated on Delta & United Airlines.

As I have mentioned before, we fly A LOT with our boys! We just returned from a recent trip last Tuesday in which we flew on Delta again.  I have to say that Delta completely understands the safety needs of their food allergic passengers!  On a flight from Fort Meyer’s (RSW) to Detroit (DTW) the head flight attendant made about 4 announcements, the first started as we were boarding the aircraft.  She stated, “There are two passengers with extremely severe peanut allergies.”  She then went on to say, “Out of consideration for the safety of these passengers we will not be serving peanuts on the flight today.”  This announcement was made about 4 times throughout the first portion of the flight.  It was wonderful!

Thank you Delta for yet another very safe flight at 30,000+ feet in the air.  Your company totally understand the severity and safety concerns of food allergic passengers while traveling by air.

I commend you Delta for being our #1 preferred airline and my family will continue to fly with you during our future travels.

Bravo Delta!!!!  We completely endorse your company for making safety of your passengers the priority!

Have a great weekend!

~Erika

Recent Delta Flights with Food Allergies

Delta plane

After my post a few weeks ago about the challenges we had flying with our nut allergic boys on United, I thought I would post a positive experience we recently had flying with Delta.  Within the last week, we took a total of 4 Delta flights with our peanut, tree nut, and dairy allergic boys.  Although we have primarily flown on Delta with our boys over the last 8 years, and we travel quite often with our sons, I wanted to share this very positive experience.

As always, I notified Delta by calling their Sky Miles number that we would be traveling with our nut allergic children on our upcoming tip.  The representative assured me that no nuts would be served on the aircrafts during our trip.  I hung up the call with a sense of relief and felt good about our upcoming vacation.

On both of the travel dates I reiterated to the check in Delta representative that our children had nut allergies.  She/he stated this was noted in the system and the flight crew would be notified of this information.  Upon the aircraft leaving the gate on all of our flights, the head flight attendant made an announcement stating, “We will not be serving peanuts on the flight today because a passenger has a serious nut allergy…instead we will be serving our Bischoff cookies and pretzels…thank you for your cooperation.”  This was music to my ears and both my husband and I were relieved.  However, there is of course still the possibility of passengers bringing their own nuts and nut products onto the aircraft.  Thankfully my children’s nut allergy is not airborne so this is never an issue.

Thank you Delta for another safe and pleasant flying experience with our nut-allergic boys!  I appreciate the effort both you and your staff continue to exhibit to keep food allergic passengers safe on your aircrafts!  We WILL definitely be traveling with you again in the future!

~Erika

 

Disney with Food Allergies

 

Disney 2

As most of my followers can sympathize, traveling with food allergies is not a simple task, not to mention extremely stressful and takes lots of advance planning.  We travel quite a lot with our food allergic boys and although it has gotten easier over the years, it’s can still be challenging at moments.

Our family recently experienced our first trip to Walt Disney Word in Orlando, FL.  It was a HUGE success and one of the most amazing vacations we have experienced as a young family!

This entire journey began a little over 5 months ago, when I contacted Lizzie, the author of http://allergyfreemouse.com and http://pixielizzie.com.  Lizzie is a renowned travel agent specializing in “Allergy Safe Walt Disney Vacations.”  It was literally music to my ears when I found Lizzie and started researching the concierge travel services she has to offer to her food allergy customers at Disney properties throughout the world.  She has a daughter with life-threatening food allergies and understands the stresses food allergies puts on families during a vacation.

Since we only booked our trip 5 months out, it was crucial to get all of the logistics (ie. hotel accommodations, restaurant reservations, fast passes, etc.) booked ASAP.  Lizzie was instrumental in walking me through this entire process which can be extremely stressful without the proper guidance.  Additionally, she gave me several restaurant recommendations where she actually knew the chef personally and ensured me they would be able to cater to our boy’s life-threatening dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut allergies.  When booking the restaurant reservations through My Disney Experience, I always carefully noted the food allergies for each reservation.  Also, I sent an email 2 weeks before our departure date to: Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com to make sure they had us “flagged” in their system for food allergy reservations.  Because I’m a bit OCD, I called Disney 1 week prior to our departure to make sure they had our food allergies listed for every restaurant reservation.  There were actually a few reservations which didn’t note the allergies and I was glad I called customer service to verify my online reservations.  I quickly found that the key to a successful Disney vacation with food allergic children is careful advance planning, planning, and planning!  Lizzie was a huge help with this as she provided me with check lists, email reminders, pages of allergy safe dining options, etc. We couldn’t have done it without Lizzie and all of her helpful resources!

We stayed at the Disney Polynesian Resort which was right on the Monorail and the most convenient location that met our family’s needs.  The swimming pool was AMAZING!  It was surrounded by about 8 lifeguards at all times which ensured our boy’s safety as they transcended down the water slide time after time!  When Lizzie booked our accommodations, she requested a microwave be added to our room at no additional charge, “extra sanitizing of our room for food allergens prior to arrival,” and no down pillows.  The room worked out great, as we were hardly in it.  As a parent of kids with food allergies, I always travel with groceries that I keep in the hotel refrigerator for snacks, early breakfasts, etc.  It’s always nice to have “safe” food on hand for my boys who are constantly hungry.

I have to note, upon checking in at the host desk at each restaurant, a ticket with our reservation was immediately printed.  Our tickets always had the words written in bold red “ALLERGY” which was then placed on the table when we were seated.  This was awesome and Disney really goes the extra mile to ensure the safe dining of their food-allergic guests.  Additionally, I always immediately gave each of our servers my hot pink “Restaurant Allergy Card” that lists our individual food allergies and specifics about cross contamination.  This card was also given to each head chef that came to our tables daily.

Many of my followers have requested restaurant recommendations that can accommodate food allergies and here are my detailed reviews.

Sit Down Restaurants (most require reservations through MyDisneyExperience):

Citricos Restaurant at the Grand Floridian: This was by far our favorite meal of the trip.  Albeit a bit $$$ but well worth the experience in this Disney Signature restaurant.  Chef Dave came to our table and our boys decided on the mickey mouse shaped pasta with marinara and broccolini. He even checked the gluten-free buns to make sure they were safe, as gluten free bread usually has eggs in it.  They did not have eggs, and my boys were thrilled they could eat the bread at this restaurant and dip it in olive oil!  This was our first WDW on-property dining experience and as a special surprise touch I pre-ordered an amazing chocolate chip mint dessert cake from Babycakes, Orlando https://www.erinmckennasbakery.com/orlando/.  Our server brought it to the table with candles and our boys couldn’t have been happier!  It was the perfect end to an amazing meal!

Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Our first morning at Disney we did the & Lilo and Stitch character breakfast at our hotel.  It was a meal “choc full of carbs” but our children were delighted as they have NEVER, I mean NEVER been able to eat breakfast in a restaurant safely.  Chef David came over to our table and explained that he “personally” cooks all of the allergen friendly meals separately.  He even served the boy’s family-style breakfast to them which included: mickey shaped waffles, bacon, fresh assorted fruit, sausage, and delicious guava juice.  It was an amazing breakfast and the icing on the cake was when our oldest son said, “Mom & Dad, I feel like a normal kid this morning.”  It literally brought us to tears of joy!  Thank you Disney and Chef David for your diligence and serving delicious allergy friendly meals!  Special memories were definitely created!

Disney

Kona at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Kona is one of the Disney restaurants that is piloting their new “allergy friendly menu” system.  Our server brought out a separate menu for the boys which listed all of the ingredients for many appetizers, entrees, and desserts.  Chef Karen came to our table and I presented her with our restaurant allergy card.  I told her that our oldest son wanted a hamburger.  I figured he would not be able to eat the bun so I actually had 2 pieces of bread in my purse that I brought from our hotel room. She said that was fine and we could assemble his burger at the table.  She would also bake the sweet potato fries to avoid cross contamination.  The boys also split the octopus salad for an appetizer and the veggie sushi rolls.  The food was marginal but it was safe and we were exhausted that night, so it didn’t really matter.

kona kona 1

Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios: Upon seating us, the host presented us with 3 different menus.  An allergy-specific kid’s menu, allergy-specific adult menu and their standard menu.  We typically all order off of the allergy friendly menu to make it easier for the chef when discerning our order.  Raul, our server from Colombia, was very knowledgable about food allergies when I presented him our restaurant card.  Our boys could again eat the bread here with olive oil which was a nice treat!  The boys decided on the Vegetarian Pho entrée as an appetizer which was delicious.  They each had the mickey mouse shaped pasta with marina sauce and steamed brocolini.  What can I say, our boys are creatures of habit?  We were all too full for dessert and wanted to rush outside to see the fireworks.  I will note that Tofutti dairy free ice cream was on the dessert menu which I thought was AWESOME!

brown derby brown derby 2

Toyko Restaurant, Japan in Epcot: I was a bit apprehensive about eating with our boys in Epcot due to pre-vacation research I had done on Epcot restaurants.  From what I had researched, many of the restaurants in Epcot are not actually “Disney-owned” restaurants, and thus do not have the same Allergy standards that Disney has for all of their restaurants.  However, we didn’t find this to be true at Toyko.  From a peanut allergy perspective, Japanese cuisine is typically free of peanuts and most tree nuts.  The manager of the restaurant came right over to our table and brought a huge binder that listed allergens in all of the menu items.  She stressed that the sushi chef making our boy’s rolls would put on clean gloves and use a clean surface.  Our boys each decided on edamame and the sushi veggie rolls.  We had yet another delicious and safe meal at Disney and no one left hungry!

Koisks & Quick Service Stations:

Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, Main Street U.S.A.:  When we were in line, I handed one of the cast member our restaurant allergy card.  She told us to stand over to the side.  The manager then came out from the back room and told us they had Tofutti Vanilla and Chocolate.  I made sure to explain to her the severity of our boy’s food allergies.  She assured me she would scoop it in the back and all of the utensils would be clean and sanitized.  Our boys each had a HUGE cup of Tofutti to cool them off during the hot afternoon!

Food Kiosk near Tomorrowland Speedway: Our boys could have the Mickey shaped hot pretzels and the cotton candy.  The cast members at this kiosk showed me the binder that listed the ingredients for all of the food products sold at this location.

Now that I have thoroughly reviewed all of our dining experiences I have to mention we took a decent-sized backpack into the park each day that contained the boy’s 4 epi-pens, inhalers and usually lots of snacks.  I had all of the ingredients in our hotel fridge to make sandwhiches for the boys for a few days in the parks.  We got sick of all of the junk food and tend to eat a pretty clean and healthy diet.  Lots of snacks are key when you have growing kids that are constantly hungry.  We always ate a nice sit down meal every night.

Overall, our trip to WDW in Orlando was a MAGICAL experience!   It was so nice to feel “normal” and take most of the worry out of our dining experiences for a few days.  Please fee free to contact me with any specific questions regarding this post or allergy free travel to WDW in general.

~Erika

 

 

Ski Trips with Food Allergies

gondola vail

We recently took a week long ski trip with our boys and extended family to Vail, Colorado.  Our two boys have been downhill skiing practically since they could walk.  That’s a bit of exaggeration but if you are a ski family like we are, then you can most likely relate.  We love to ski with our boys and often.

Although my husband and I have been taking annual ski trips together out west for over a decade this was the first trip out west with both of our boys.  We felt that age ages 6 and 8 they would be able to hold their own and ski the majority of the terrain without a problem.

The key to any vacation when traveling with kids that have multiple food allergies is to stay in a place that has a kitchen and well-equipped one if you love to cook like I do.  Thankfully we were also vacationing with my father-in-law who owned his own restaurant for over 30 years and is a professional chef…that definitely helps!  We stayed in a beautiful condo in Arrowhead which is just a hop skip and a jump to one of the Arrowhead/Beavercreek chairlifts.

I’ll cut to the chase today as I want to be thorough but brief.  There was absolutely no chance that my husband and I were going to risk an accidental food exposure for either of our sons while skiing during the day at either Beavercreek or Vail.  For (1) it would be very timely to get a child off the mountain if they  experienced anaphylaxis and (2) I was a bit skeptical of the emergency care in Summit County although I researched it and I’m sure it was more than adequate.

Our boys ALWAYS ski with 2 Epi-pens each which they put carry in their pocket located inside of their ski coat with about 8 Benadryl tablets each.  My youngest son also skis with his inhaler.  We have always felt this is a good pocket for the Epi-pens because it’s close to their bodies and doesn’t get too cold, since these little buggers are temperature sensitive…ugh!

We decided it was easiest to pack tortilla roll-up sandwiches for the boys each day because they took up little space and they are also one of the boy’s favorite foods for lunch.  We would typically roll up organic deli ham, melted Daiya mozzarella shreds, and lettuce.  Typically, we would make 2 roll-ups per boy and then we would give each child 1-2 Enjoy Your Life Choco-Loco bars for snacks on the mountain.  We skied a total of 4 days with the boys and alternated the roll-ups from day to day adding various ingredients so they wouldn’t get tired of the same thing.

My husband Jason and I would typically put a few in our ski jacket pockets and the boys would carry a few for themselves.  Easy peasy.  Then, once we were skiing all morning and decided to go in for lunch on top of the mountain (usually anywhere from 10,000 – 11,000 ft above sea level), we would buy entire lunches for Jason and myself and then just purchase drinks and “safe” chips for the boys.  This system proved to work well throughout the week of our ski vacation.  The boys were happy with their lunches and most importantly SAFE!

It was a huge success and any of the pre-trip anxiety I had about eating on the mountain was squashed once we executed our plan.  This system also enabled us to share a memorable vacation with our boys skiing in the mountains of Summit County Colorado for their first time our West!  It was an awesome trip!  I can’t wait to create more ski vacation memories with my 3 boys in future years to come!

Click on the link below to view Taylor ripping it up on the Word Cup Downhill run Birds of Paradise at Beavercreek Resort:

Taylor Birds of Prey

Labor Day Weekend Detroit Tigers Game with Our Food Allergic Boys = AMAZING TIME!

comerica park

My husband and I recently enjoyed a hot Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit with our two food allergic boys.  This is the second time we have taken our boys to a Major League baseball game and I have to say kudos to Comerica- our experience could not have been any better!

Prior to arriving at the ball park we met several family members for a “Family Fun Day Sunday” at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Detroit on Broadway Street.  The staff was extremely helpful and our server took our 3 x 5 pink Restaurant Food Allergy Card back to the chef to ask for dairy, nut, and egg free menu recommendations.  My boys happily settled on the sweet BBQ and cilantro chicken wings and washed it down with a delicious root beer.  Not very healthy but hey– it was game day and a special occasion!  They loved it!   Plus Punch Bowl has several bowling lanes, an arcade, and shuffle board…a paradise for both parents and children for a pre-game with the family!

After meeting up with all of our family at Punch Bowl we then walked to the ball park which was only a few short blocks away.

In the past I have carried in a soft 12″ x 12″ inch cooler filled to the brim with safe snacks for our boys to enjoy during the game in addition to the 4 Auvi-Q epinephrine pens, Benadryl and asthma inhaler.  Last Saturday however I only packed a few snacks in my purse (Auv-Q’s  of course) and my boys were able to enjoy multiple food/drink items at the park.  Upon entering Comerica in the 85+ degree heat we bought Minute Maid Frozen Lemonades for the boys and a few waters.  Not to mention the multiple souvenirs (ie. water squirt fans to keep the kids cool, stuffed animals, new baseball hats, and jerseys of course).

Unfortunately, the Tigers were not winning and at one point during the game I ventured to the Big Cat Food Court area where the merry-go-round is located.  My husband stayed back in the seats with the boys.  The Hot Dog Vendor Sidekick did not have a line at all and I decided to venture up to the counter.  After noticing they sold hot dogs, I politely asked one of the employees if he could possibly grab the box of hot dogs and buns from the walk-in cooler in order for me to read the ingredients list.  He also mentioned that out of the two different types of Ballpark hot dogs they sold one brand had casein in them.  Once he brought me the box of dogs without the casein I re-read the ingredients at least 3 times after realizing they were COMPLETELY safe for my boys to eat.  Additionally, the bun brand they carried was safe as well!  My eyes literally started welting up and tears started to trickle out of the corners of my eyes underneath my sunglasses.  Why did I start to tear up you may ask yourself?  Well, it’s actually quite simple…this is the first time my two little boys would be able to enjoy a hot dog at a Ball Game!  A quintessential moment enjoyed by most Americans during their lifetime!

When I returned to the our seating section my husband and kids were standing near the entrance to our seats with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew.  I handed the boys their hot dogs and told them they were SAFE and they proceeded to devour each dog!  My husband and I were ecstatic!  It was a very memorable moment that will stick with us for a long time to come.

Our Sunday Fun Day at Comerica proved to be an amazing experience with our boys and extended family!  We will definitely be back with the boys and hopefully next time the Tigers will have a WIN!  Thank you to our family and Comerica for a amazing fun filled day at the ball park!

Labor Day Weekend Detroit Tigers Game with Our Food Allergic Boys = AMAZING TIME!

comerica park

My husband and I recently enjoyed a hot Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit with our two food allergic boys.  This is the second time we have taken our boys to a Major League baseball game and I have to say kudos to Comerica- our experience could not have been any better!

Prior to arriving at the ball park we met several family members for a “Family Fun Day Sunday” at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Detroit on Broadway Street.  The staff was extremely helpful and our server took our 3 x 5 pink Restaurant Food Allergy Card back to the chef to ask for dairy, nut, and egg free menu recommendations.  My boys happily settled on the sweet BBQ and cilantro chicken wings and washed it down with a delicious root beer.  Not very healthy but hey– it was game day and a special occasion!  They loved it!   Plus Punch Bowl has several bowling lanes, an arcade, and shuffle board…a paradise for both parents and children for a pre-game with the family!

After meeting up with all of our family at Punch Bowl we then walked to the ball park which was only a few short blocks away.

In the past I have carried in a soft 12″ x 12″ inch cooler filled to the brim with safe snacks for our boys to enjoy during the game in addition to the 4 Auvi-Q epinephrine pens, Benadryl and asthma inhaler.  Last Saturday however I only packed a few snacks in my purse (Auv-Q’s  of course) and my boys were able to enjoy multiple food/drink items at the park.  Upon entering Comerica in the 85+ degree heat we bought Minute Maid Frozen Lemonades for the boys and a few waters.  Not to mention the multiple souvenirs (ie. water squirt fans to keep the kids cool, stuffed animals, new baseball hats, and jerseys of course).

Unfortunately, the Tigers were not winning and at one point during the game I ventured to the Big Cat Food Court area where the merry-go-round is located.  My husband stayed back in the seats with the boys.  The Hot Dog Vendor Sidekick did not have a line at all and I decided to venture up to the counter.  After noticing they sold hot dogs, I politely asked one of the employees if he could possibly grab the box of hot dogs and buns from the walk-in cooler in order for me to read the ingredients list.  He also mentioned that out of the two different types of Ballpark hot dogs they sold one brand had casein in them.  Once he brought me the box of dogs without the casein I re-read the ingredients at least 3 times after realizing they were COMPLETELY safe for my boys to eat.  Additionally, the bun brand they carried was safe as well!  My eyes literally started welting up and tears started to trickle out of the corners of my eyes underneath my sunglasses.  Why did I start to tear up you may ask yourself?  Well, it’s actually quite simple…this is the first time my two little boys would be able to enjoy a hot dog at a Ball Game!  A quintessential moment enjoyed by most Americans during their lifetime!

When I returned to the our seating section my husband and kids were standing near the entrance to our seats with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew.  I handed the boys their hot dogs and told them they were SAFE and they proceeded to devour each dog!  My husband and I were ecstatic!  It was a very memorable moment that will stick with us for a long time to come.

Our Sunday Fun Day at Comerica proved to be an amazing experience with our boys and extended family!  We will definitely be back with the boys and hopefully next time the Tigers will have a WIN!  Thank you to our family and Comerica for a amazing fun filled day at the ball park!

Eating at Subway with Food Allergies

A close friend of mine who lives across the country and  has a son with multiple Anaphylactic food allergies (dairy, egg, nuts) recently texted me on the fly. She texted me that her son was at a Subway chain restaurant with a friend of his and asked me if I had any experience with my children eating at Subway in the past??? I was tickled to death that my friend reached out to me as she recently told me that I was her new “food allergy expert”…quite a stretch but I’ll run with it. LOL!!

I quickly texted her back & responded that I have extensively researched the online Subway ingredient menu in the past & we have had much success eating there “on the fly.” I recommended she text her son to communicate to the sandwich maker to state:

(1) I have dairy and nut allergies so please put on new gloves before you make my sandwich;

(2) I recommended that he order either an Italian sub bun or Whole wheat;

(3) Ask the sand which artist to please put down a few extra pieces of paper on top of the cutting board to create a “safe” barrier;

(4) Request the sand which artist use a “clean” knife to cut his sandwich.

(5) My boys usually add lettuce, pickles, black olives, etc…sky’s the limit on the veggies as the veggie artist typically does not touch the cheese but please verify!

(5) Usually the safe condiments include mustard & honey mustard but please always check ingredients. If we plan on going to Subway in advance I will bring my own vegan mayo (we prefer Just Mayo) & Daiya vegan cheese!!

Ta Da & there you have it- a healthy subway sandwich that your kiddos can enjoy! I love to suprise my boys with a Subway sandwich at school for lunch! It’s healthy & a nice change!!!!