This time one year ago, our family took an incredible trip to Geneva, Switzerland to visit my husband’s aunt and uncle and to attend his cousin’s high school graduation. It was a huge family reunion, and our last chance to go before the Switzerland family moved and became Vietnamese family (amazing, isn’t it?)!
Of course, we were crazy excited about the trip, but we knew there would be some legwork on our part to ensure that our food allergy child would be safe and well-fed the week that we were abroad. We did a lot of research and found some great resources.
Here are our tips for preparing for international travel (shout-out to my husband for helping me remember everything that we did)! And I am sharing a few pics from the trip just for fun :)
FARE chef cards
On the plane
Have you traveled internationally with food allergies? What did you do to prepare? Share in the comments!
We often joke about the fact that our three year old has business cards and we don't...but his allergies are pretty serious business, so perhaps it isn't all that silly!
I can't take credit for this idea...it was another gem I heard about from my support group in Bloomington, IN. But it's been such a wonderful convenience and useful tool for us since we started making them - and let's face it, how often do the concepts of food allergies and convenience get discussed at the same time?!
I first created Matthew's business cards on Vistaprint about two years ago. I had come across a coupon code and thought it was just a great idea. It took some time to get the layout and theme exactly how I wanted it (much like setting up a blog, come to think of it), but I was so happy with the result. A year after we made the first one, we decided to make new ones. His food allergies had changed (we had more to add to the list), and kids change so quickly when they are little that we wanted to update the picture, too.
I was semi-dreading having to start over again, but FORTUNATELY, I had created a Vistaprint account, so all I had to do was figure out how to login (i.e. try one of 760 different passwords I use) and...ta-da, there sat the beautiful card I had created a year ago. I added a couple of rows to the allergy table, updated his picture, and updated our address (because we'd moved for the 760th time). It literally took five minutes from login to order.
We use them all the time - we give them to babysitters (rather than having to write out instructions over and over again), we pass them out like allergy-friendly candy at his school and at church. He actually wears a laminated one as his nametag at church. There is one hanging off of his backpack. One with his epinephrine. One on his car seat in case we were in an accident (so medical personnel would know about his allergies). They can literally be used anywhere! AND...they're pretty darn cute, too!
I have enjoyed using Vistaprint for these. Vistaprint frequently has coupon codes, so you can get them cheap/free and just pay shipping. It costs a little more to have a backside to your card, but I feel like it was necessary to share all of the information.
A few recommendations:
**I strongly recommend creating an account if you use Vistaprint. Creating the card from scratch one time was enough. Updating is super simple now!
**Update the card anytime you move, your information changes, or you/your child's allergens change. We need to update ours to include tree nuts - this post has been a good reminder of that.
**Put your child's full, legal name on the front. This helps with identification in case of emergency.
**Give them to all your friends and relatives that may ever be alone with your child.
**These cards are NOT a substitute for a thorough verbal explanation of your child's allergies. They are meant to be a quick and easy guide for your child's caregivers and, in case of emergency, a source of information for emergency personnel.
I hope this is a useful tool! I'd love to hear if you can think of other applications for this business card, either in the food allergy world, or even for another medical condition!
For information about other food allergy resources, check out Food Allergy Arsenal's Resources Page