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Traveling with kids that have allergies

If you have a child that has allergies, you know how stressful it is, eating out at restaurants can be a nightmare (milk seems to be in everything), parties and playdates can be awkward and travelling long haul on a plane is definitely up there on the anxiety list.

When we emigrated to Australia from the UK my daughter was 2 and had a dairy and egg allergy. We were flying with Emirates so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem to order her a special meal – I was wrong. They had no option online suitable, despite me also calling customer service to see if they accommodate her allergies. I was told to bring my own food. For a 26 hour flight this was going to be a challenge – my daughter loves eating more than anything in the whole world – food is life!

I think most of our carry-on luggage was stuffed with pre-packaged croissants (milk free), packets of raisins, vegan biscuits and any other 2 year old friendly snack that she could safely eat. Plus all the other million things you need when you travel long haul with a toddler.

We still ordered the kids meal in the hope that there would be suitable options, I ordered a normal meal and my husband selected vegan (he isn’t vegan but we needed options). When the kids meal came around it was spaghetti bolognaise, I asked the stewardess for a list of the ingredients to check and she couldn’t provide me with one. The extras on the tray was a carton of flavoured milk, a mini chocolate and a bread roll with butter. Basically she couldn’t eat anything on the tray – try explaining that to a hungry 2 year old.

Luckily when my husband’s vegan meal came, he was given a vegan curry and some fruit and crackers so she could eat most of that – phew!

The main meal ordeal was out the way but it got worse. Breakfast offerings for both adults and children was scrambled eggs or omelette – you had to be kidding me! Luckily the vegan meal saved the day again with fresh fruit.

When we are able to travel again (thanks COVID-19) you can sometimes preview the menu for your upcoming flight so this will help with the regular adult meals at least and give you some time to plan ahead. I naively thought that the airlines could accommodate allergy requests, they seem to be able to accommodate many other food requests for adults but the kid’s meals are tricky. Always check with the airline, bring tonnes of your own food and where you can try ordering a vegan adult meal so you have options.

Ultimately my top five tips to help you survive travelling with kids who have allergies are:

  • Plan ahead – look at the airline website, see what meals are available ad call customer services to see if they can provide any extra assistance
  • But LOADS of snack foods – gives you peace of mind that you have something to feed them when they get hungry
  • Order vegan where you can to cover some of your bases
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the airline staff for other food, they have hidden snacks
  • Get sneaky (I mean creative) and try and hide the items that they can’t have to avoid the meltdown
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