Camping with a Food Allergic Child

Camping Safely with Food Allergies

Tomorrow we are venturing on our first family camping trip!  Last year we went to Maine for our summer vacation, and if any of you remember it was quite an adventure with a food allergic child.  Traveling with stays in hotels proved to be less than ideal for our family (setting off the smoke alarm and having the fire marshall arrive due to a smoky hot plate was quite embarassing!)..... 

This year we are embarking on a new adventure....Camping!  I thought I would share with you some of the planning I do to try to ensure that it is a safe experience for my daughter who is anaphylactic to all dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.

Before you do anything else, make sure you have your Epi-Pens (more than one -remember that an epi-pen only lasts for 10-15 minutes and you may be required to administer additional dose(s) depending on the response rate for emergency medical care where you are traveling).   I personally bring 4-5.  Bring Benadryl as well.   Make sure your medications have not expired and are good for use (have not been damaged by exposure to extreme temps etc.)  
Having an epi-pen on hand is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you need in the case of an anaphylactic reaction.*****

First thing I do (after learning the hard way) is to scope out the destination and to make sure I know where the nearest hospital is.  I inquire about the response time for ambulances in case of an emergency and the location of the nearest hospital.  I also make sure that I know the correct address and location information for where we are staying so that if I did have to call 9-1-1 I would be able to accurately describe my location.  Preparing to have a cell phone that is charged and ready to use if needed is a must.  If camping in a remote area where cell phone signals may be compromised, you should have another plan for contacting 9-1-1 if required....where is the nearest landline phone?

Second of all I plan for cross-contamination of surfaces. I alway pack my daughter's own pillow when she travels (it may be crazy but I worry about someone having nut saliva on the hotel pillow!)....  I pack wipes (if there is not an issue with lanolin, choose lanolin based wipes as they are effective at removing protein from surfaces).  I bring my antibac Norwex enviro cloths these are great for cleaning surfaces using water alone.  They even have a travel pack which comes with 4 mini enviro cloths.  I also pack my own dish soap, hand soap and other toiletries (such as lotions, toothpaste, sunscreen and bug spray)....this is to ensure that all products are safe for my daughter.

Now for food...the most important part!  Here is what I pack for food and food-related needs:

  • table cloth or placemats to form a barrier between possibly contaminated surfaces in restaurants (now this time we are camping so I am just bringing a table cloth for the picnic table)
  • cleaning cloths and dish towels and dish soap (I already mentioned this :)
  • plastic plates, bowls, cutlery and sharp knives -I got great ones with covers for travel from my mother and sister-in-law
  • napkins
  • allergy safe foods for all meals and snacks & lots of it!  I have been chided for over packing but when you have a child with food allergies, you want to make sure that you have more than enough -it is not easy to just go and grab something as other parents could for their non-allergic child.
  • Note:  **I refrain from being any new food products with us when we travel.  I try to bring only foods my daughter has had before that have been proven safe for her.  Sometimes packages neglect to mention the possibility of traces of allergens having contaminated the food or have undeclared food allergens in them.  I would prefer not to experiment when on vacation!**
Ok so here is a sample menu of what I have packed for one day of camping:

  • Cereal
  • Rice Milk Drink Boxes -don't need to be refrigerated and small portion size is great for this
  • fruit (fresh fruit or apple sauce -as luck would have it, my daughter refuses to eat most fresh fruits so we usually do apple sauce with cinnamon)
Morning Snack:
  • Ryvita Crisp Bread or allergy safe bread with Wow Butter or Sunbutter, honey, jam etc.
  • fruit (grapes, oranges)
Afternoon Snack:
  • Nacho chips with salsa or
  • Rice Crackers with Hummus
  • Cosmic Cookies (these are AMAZING and very fulfilling)

  • Campfire cooked hot dogs
  • veggies and allergy safe dip
  • Smores!  We are going to have our first ever smores tomorrow!  Very exciting.  Marshmallows are safe for our daughter and so are graham crackers but unfortunately we have a hard time getting chocolate bars and find chocolate chips that are dairy and nut free much easier to find.  The problem is that chocolate chips will just fall out all over the place in a smore so to solve that problem I have melted the chocolate chips at home ahead of time and spread the chocolate over graham crackers on one side.  Refrigerating the graham crackers with chocolate results in a hardened chocolate covered graham cracker...add a toasted marshmallow while camping and enjoy a smore!!
  • water -I purchased larger bottles of water and am bringing our reusable stainless steel water bottles...I figure this is somewhat less plastic than buying individual water bottles and hopefully helping to reduce our waste somewhat!
  • juice boxes (totally negating what I just said but at least they can be recycled???) -I should have purchased larger container of juice but cut me some slack...I have a lot to think about here! :)
  • chocolate rice milk juice boxes
  • treat: pc 100% fruit sparkling fruit juices
  • adult beverages of your choice -how else are you going to sleep crammed in a tent with your whole family?  :)  ha ha
 Please remember that I am not a medical or dietary expert and am only sharing my experiences and advice as a fellow allergy mom.  You should consult your medical professional, dietician, naturopath or nutritionist if you are unsure about any of the advice I have given in my blog.  If you have any additional comments, tips, corrections etc...please let me know!  My intention is to provide support (emotional and experiential) to other parents with food allergic children.

All the best and happy travels!

Melissa Scheichl
The Allergy Mom