Monday, August 29, 2011

Travelling with allergies and intolerences

One of our biggest considerations when we decided to go travelling was whether we could do it with our daughter’s medical needs. The littlest hobo has had various health concerns and issues over the past year. As time goes on, it appears that the majority of them are caused by allergies and intolerances, which has been a huge relief, because they are manageable, but it does put various constraints on us.

She can rarely eat a restaurant/cafĂ© meal so we have become accustomed to taking food everywhere with us. This means that we must always have access to a kitchen to prepare food. It’s not a problem, and in many ways staying in self catering accommodation is the better option with a toddler in tow anyway, and we’d become so used to bringing her food with us before we left Sydney, that we just do it automatically.

We have friends with allergic children who won’t go on holiday out of their own country - when they holiday in their homeland they choose their location based on proximity to a hospital. While I completely understand their fears, we just weren’t prepared to live by those parameters, constantly working around the what if’s.  So we decided that we can only visit countries where we can access ‘allergy safe‘ foods. This leaves us primarily with the developed world as our oyster - still enough to fill a year or two with travels, and leaving plenty of countries for us to enjoy in later years, when she’s hopefully grown out of some of her allergies, or when we’re old grey and wrinkly and she’s got better things tyo do than go globetrotting with her olds :)

To an extent, we’re learning as we go along. But that’s not really much different than what we would have been doing if we’d have stayed at home in Sydney - most allergy treatment, especially in the very young, is based on experimentation - remove this and see what happens, reintroduce that and see if there’s a reaction. We’ve done our homework with regard to infant nutrition and allergies/intollerences, talked to her team of specialists before setting out to make sure we weren’t doing something crazy and we carry the necessary antihistamines with us everywhere (as we would at home). I research each destination before we go to make sure we can get suitable food/drink. When we went to Korea I’d found out that although her usual rice milk wasn’t available, soy milk was, but since that trip, and the reaction she had from 3 days of constant soy milk, we know that rice milk must be available.

It’s probably changed the way we’ve done things a bit - in Europe, we’ve bought a car and we’ll be driving/getting ferries. We can buy as many cartons of rice milk in the countries where it’s available, and take it with us in the car - an option that definitely wouldn’t have been available to us with the weight restrictions of flights. On the plus side, I feel like we’re seeing a bit more of the country this way, and it definitely seems to be working out cheaper.

We’re staying in cottages/apartments/houses which mostly end up being a bit out of town, which in turn means that we may spend less time in the town/city than we would have done otherwise. Our experience is different to what it would have been if we’d been staying in the city in a hotel or hostel, but often we feel less like tourists this way, and more like locals.

The other constraint we have is that she still needs medical monitoring, so given that our families are there, so there’s always people to stay with, and we’re likely to spend more time there than anywhere else for now, this has become our official country of residence, and she’s registered with a paediatrician there. This means that she and I may be taking the odd flight back to make sure she’s keeping on track, but hey, that’s a small price pay to enable this lifestyle.

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Dublin, by the skin of our teeth, to be sure!

We’ve spent the last 9 days on the Wirral and in North Wales (more to come about that later). We drove up from my parents place in Hampshire, last weekend, intending to spend time with my family then go straight to Holyhead and across to Dublin to start our tour of the Emerald Isle. Before we left my parents we booked the ferry crossing and our accommodation in Dublin, but not much else. We’d had a bit of a panic when we couldn’t find Mr Traveller’s passport,  but as him and I have dual nationality we decided he could travel on his UK passport and we’d find it when we got back to my parents in a month or so, and after I’d given him an earful about taking more care where to keep important documents and proclaiming that I’d be taking the role of chief passport holder in the future, we headed off.

We spent our week with my family then in the packing frenzy that accompanies each departure we make, and with 15 minutes to go before we left for Holyhead, I had a quick flick through the passports. It was one of those moments that you dread, those times you hear about but think will never happen to you, something that my parents will never experience because they do have a sensible place for everything, and could never live with being as disorganised as we are. As the realisation struck that I’d apparently lost the littlest hobo’s passport while I was trying to get her English passport a couple of weeks ago (which incidentally we’d decided to delay until after the Ireland trip in the end), and, even more ridiculously, while we’d been waving around 4 passports in the panic of the previous week, we had somehow overlooked the fact that the one we were missing was for the smallest member of our family who also holds no other photo ID.

In the minutes after we realised, we pulled everything out of the cases, asked my dad to ransack the room we’d been using and eventually drew to the conclusion that we’d better cancel our ferry and accommodation booking. We decided our Gaelic tour would be rerouted to a somewhat more northerly location (Scotland) and jumped online to get the phone numbers we needed to see if we could salvage any of our hard-earned mullah that we’d paid up front for our bookings. It was in the midst of this that Mr Traveller stumbled upon a little gem of a paragraph on the Irish Ferries website which stated that you don’t usually need a passport to travel to Ireland from the UK So we called them and they confirmed that we shouldn’t need a passport. Who’d have thought it? We didn’t need telling to take a risk twice - we jumped in the car and headed for Holyhead as fast as the law would allow us, breezed through security and made the ferry with minutes to spare.

It was plain sailing (excuse the pun) at both ends and before we knew it we were navigating the roads of Dublin in search of our beds for the next few nights. Our only other hiccup was when we found ourselves face to face with a toll booth and not a Euro to our names… could we pay by card? Uhm, possibly, give us a minute… We’ve got some English money if that helps at all… Ah, that’ll do you - off you go. Got to love the Irish!

And the moral of today’s story, boys and girls? Don’t describe yourself as disorganised in your first blog post, because it just might become even more true than you could previously have imagined!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lets start in the middle...

...because that's where we are now. And I'm already kicking myself for not having started this sooner, so this is it, my first ever blog post.

It all started when me, him and the littlest hobo were spending our Christmas holidays in New Zealand; driving through some gorgeous scenery, putting the world to rights and generally having a lovely old time when we realised that somehow we'd got so caught up and bogged down in the details of our daily lives and we needed to inject some fun back into the day to day. We lemented over travels gone by, and got over excited, planning a route around the world, wanting it to be a reality, but knowing that it could really be nothing more than a dream.
But here we are, 8 months down the line, and thanks to a set of strange and what most may call unfortunate events, we find ourselves on the other side of the world, 6 weeks into a journey that should last a year or two and take us to a plethora of far and distant lands. And I'm thrilled about it (and a little terrified too, if I'm completely honest).

So, a quick introduction; I'm, thirtysomething British, have been living in Sydney for the last 4 years, and Washington DC for another couple of years before that. I'm married to a gorgeous, clever, witty (he owes me now), slightly further into the thirty-somethings and British guy and together we have a 22 month old fully-Aussie, and becoming mouthier by the day, daughter. In life-before-kids I was a marketer, these days I'm a budding amateur but would love to be professional photographer, a closet web junky and somewhat hippy, or at least more hippy than most of my friends, mum. I can talk forever (had you guessed?) but equally love my own company, especially since having my own little chatterbox. I'm overly particular and extremely easy going in the same breath, a disorganised, last minute list maker - a complex character?! I love sunsets, good food and I never have nothing to do.

So that's me. Thanks for reading (if anybody has). I do hope you'll come back and join me on this journey.