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.

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