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Road Trip with a Peanut Allergy - Part 2: "Eating Away from Home"

Posted Jan 14 2009 8:46pm
The scariest thing about traveling with a peanut allergy is eating!! I stay prepared with plenty of "safe" snacks and restaurant options. I try to always have more food than we need and more restaurant choices than necessary so it is not a crisis if we are out longer than planned or a restaurant is closed. I will probably say this a million times on this blog: Always Be Prepared!! It is vital to successfully managing the allergy and staying safe.

For our trip, we started out with a bag full of goodies for the car and traveling around during the day with our backpack. Here is what I packed, all totally peanut free:

*Pringles Potato Chips (3 different flavors)
*Kellog's Rice Crispy Treats
*Mutligrain crackers (generic brand from a Midwest store called Meijer's)
*Pop Tarts (2 different flavors)
*Individual packages Lorna Doone cookies
*Individual packages of Oreo cookies
*Small bags of fruit snacks

Again, there was more food than the 4 of us needed for our 3 day trip. But I like lots of options also so everyone can have something that sounds good to them. These aren't things we snack a lot on on a regular basis around the house (except the fruit) so it made them real treats.

The Pop Tarts were for Tyler's breakfast. Our hotel had a free breakfast but I decided to not go through all of the hassle it would require for Tyler to eat (reading ingredients, talking to chef, etc). Having a "sure thing" was good for him...and me. If there had been a toaster for the Pop Tart, I would not have used it for Tyler since I would not have known what had been there previously. Just so he didn't feel too left out, I ate a cold Pop Tart with him each morning.

I also brought a treat bag so we had plenty of options for behavior rewards and "safe" options when Mom and Dad ate things like fudge and other "no no's" for Tyler. In that bag, I had:

*Hershey's milk chocolate bars
*Hershey's Cookies and Cream white chocolate bars
*Other non-food things he likes (i.e. anything from the movie "Cars")

Of course, no trip is complete without eating out. I printed out my "Safe" Places to Eat With a Peanut Allergy post and put it in my purse so we knew what I had already researched and deemed "safe."

On our first day we did the following:

Lunch:Red Robin restaurant. I had seen this place had a special peanut allergy menu and indeed it did. It was a positive experience. I will write a longer post just about our experience there for Saturday's post.

Dinner:Burger King

Our second day (the day we spent on Macinac Island):

Lunch: 3 Brothers Sarducci (a local pizzeria)

I had Tyler and my hubby sit down and I took my 21 month old, Dylan (he's a Mama's boy and always attached to my hip!) and went to the counter. I explained to a waitress and the cashier that my son had a life-threatening peanut allergy and wanted to know about their pizza. The waitress looked mildly confused but the cashier looked at me like I had a horn coming out of my head or something (I'm sure she must have thought it was crazy to wonder about pizza having peanuts...but ever heard of a place called Pizza Hut??)

The waitress asked the chef. I could tell he had this question before. He said "We only use corn oil in our crust." Then I asked if everything else was made from scratch. He said, "Yes." Since they didn't serve anything with peanuts and cross-contamination was not as issue, that was enough for me to determine it to be safe for Tyler.


Our third day (the trip home)

Lunch:Taco Bell

I try to always be very informed on what he is eating when we are out. If I have a question of its safety, I don't let him eat it. It's that simple. If all of my attempts fail, I have EpiPen for emergencies (never had to use it for that, though). Sometimes no matter how hard we try to keep them safe, we can't.

I do not advocate not ever allowing your child to eat out, whether at home or on vacation. It's a normal part of being a kid and, quite frankly, an American. If I don't teach my PA kid now what is safe and what questions to ask to find out, he will not be armed with that knowledge later in life when he is managing his allergy himself.

We had absolutely no problems on the trip with our food. I did all of my homework and he was safe with a full belly. In the end, we have a fabulous time at all of our different fun eating spots!

If you missed part one of this series on Road Trip with a Peanut Allergy, click here.

Tomorrow I will talk about keeping Tyler safe and happy while my husband and I enjoyed some of the nut free treats on our trip (but not safe for Tyler).
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