Food Allergy Travels: Magic Kingdom Magic
"...it was relly nice to have choises..."
"I am so thankfull for a place like Disney World!"
—a 3rd grader with multiple food allergies
It's not often that you get to look through a third grader's eyes, see the wonder, feel the magic. The smiles say it all.
Sharayah McKellar's third grade daughter recently shared her thoughts about a family trip to Disney World.
"Have you ever been on a vacation and find it hard to find a place to eat? I have. This make a vacatoin hard. Not every place is food allergy friendly. But I believe Disney World handles food alergies perfectly.
First of all, Disney World offers many substitutions. I got my very own safe waffles at Chef Mickeys. At Be Our Guest they had Earth Balance butter and delicious bread. Topolino's Terrace had safe donuts and pasteries. It was relly nice to have choises.
Second, Disney World employes are kind and understanding the chefs come to are table to talk about your allergies. The watresses would bring substitutions. No one made me feel bad about having food allergies.
Disney World is so fun even with food allergies. I would tell anyone with food allergies to go to Disney because it's no diffrent with or without food allergies. I am so thankfull for a place like Disney World!
Sharayah's daughter is allergic to Dairy, Soy, and Tree Nuts and has had varied reactions from anaphylaxis to EOE triggers. Her daughter's essays are definitely teaching me how to see more of the magic in food allergic living and less of the 'hard'.
Hope this puts a little magic (and a dash of hope) in your day.
It IS possible to travel the world safely as a family with food allergies — whether you're headed to the beach, the other side of the country, or a different continent altogether.
The key to traveling safely with food allergies in the family is advance legwork. You need to research, plan, organize, and communicate your needs. Here are some resources for planning your next adventure.
Top Tips To Keep Top of Mind is a short and sweet list of key things you can do that will help take some of the worry out of your family vacation. Advance planning and preparation will pay dividends — allowing you to have more fun with more peace of mind while escaping your day-to-day.
The Trip Planning Checklist is a handy checklist for planning your getaway. Think of it as a triple check to make sure you've crossed every 't' and dotted every 'i' before you lock the front door and head out.
The Allergy Force Restaurant Allergy Explanation (aka chef card) can help you do some of the communications 'heavy lifting' when you eat out. You can email or text it to the restaurant before you go, explaining your food allergies in 21 languages (for FREE). Plus, you can print it out or email it to yourself as extra 'insurance' to have on hand when you get to the restaurant.
Travel is a process. It's important to expect the unexpected. There will always be hiccups. BUT the joys of travel, the memories you create with your family, and the connection to different people, places, and times are priceless.
I hope this post encourages you to channel your family's spirit of adventure. I hope it helps you find your 'can do' courage to navigate parts unknown (even with food allergies.)
(Don’t forget to pack your epinephrine, antihistamine, and sunscreen, too. You've got this!)
About the Author: Gayle Rigione is CEO and Co-founder of Allergy Force, the food allergy app. She’s also an allergy mom. She’s lived the heart stopping moments when her son ate the wrong thing, second guessed reactions and spent the night in the ER. These experiences inspire her to create tools for people with food allergies that make life safer, easier. Whatever you do, do it with a full heart. Audentes Fortuna Iuvat
Credits: Thank you to Sharayah McKellar for sharing the essay and the images with permission