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Road Trip with a Peanut Allergy - Part 1: "The Basics"

Posted Jan 14 2009 8:46pm
We just returned from a short road trip and am happy to report it was reaction free! Since I know some of my readers are new to the peanut allergy life, I thought I would do a short series of posts on staying safe while on the road and away from the "peanut free" bubble we call "home."

Our trip took us to northern Michigan. One day we visited a beautiful island called Macinac Island, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. It's an island that doesn't even allow motorized vehicles on the island so I actually was a little concerned about medical care. (Eventually I saw they had a clinic and I felt better!)

Since I will write a more detailed post tomorrow about what we ate during the trip, I will not cover that in this post. Instead, I will talk about how I tried to keep Tyler safe and give him a "normal" vacation (one where he didn't feel like his mom was a paranoid lunatic...which she can be when it comes to his PA.)

Wipes, Wipes and More Wipes!!
Since I have little ones in diapers, wipes are always in abundance wherever we go. When we sat down to eat our "safe" snacks and meals, I was diligent about thoroughly cleaning the table and chairs where he was sitting. I tried to clean anywhere I thought he might touch while he was in the process of constantly putting his hand to his mouth (that is kind of required when you are eating!).

Wash Those Hands
I've already written about the importance of hand washing as it relates to a peanut allergy. I did this a lot, particularly since peanuts were in the fudge and peanut brittle they were selling in various locations the day we visited the island. If a sink was not around, I just got out wipes and scrubbed away. My husband can attest to the fact I did this A LOT! Luckily, Tyler actually likes hand washing so he takes it all in stride.

Scope it Out
When we go to a new location, whether it be a restaurant, hotel, or other "fun" place, I scope it out. Sometimes I feel a bit like the CIA or the Secret Service but I look around and determine if the place appears "clean" and I even examine what others are eating. If I deem it to have any potential problem for Tyler, I pick another place. I wasn't too good at this when he was first diagnosed, but now it is second nature. I catch myself doing it when he's not even with me!

Make Plans Early
As much as possible, I try to plan ahead. If I can find out what places there are to eat where we are going, I start trying to make a decision early. The same goes to any other events we might participate in. As little spontaneity as possible is a good rule to follow when it comes to eating on the road.

We didn't fly to our location but if you need to, there are many airlines that no longer serve peanuts. In addition, many of them will make a request that passengers keep their peanuts in their bags if there is a severely peanut allergic person aboard. Call any airline before you book your flight if this is a concern.

Trust Your Instincts
There is not enough said about this when it comes to life-threatening food allergies. But I believe God gives us Moms strong instincts for a reason. Don't ignore them even if you are annoying everyone around you (including your husband...mine can tell about me!), trust yourself. If something is you telling a situation isn't safe, don't stick around to find out why!

When we sat down to have one of our "safe" treats on a table that I had throughly washed the day we were on Macinac Island, I noticed something over Tyler's left side. You can see below why my Mommy instincts were in high gear that day!

In reality, this island did not have peanuts lurking around every corner more than any county fair or carnival does. But when your child is allergic, even one peanut can seem like a giant monster!

I'll be back tomorrow with a detailed list of "safe" snacks we took and what restaurants I chose and why!!

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