Saturday, July 23, 2011

Traveling Scotland with food allergies

My husband loves to travel.  He was born in Italy, as an army brat, and travelled extensively growing up. When he took a job that required a great deal of travel, it was no great surprise to me.

Occasionally we were able to bring the family along on work related trips, and eek out an extra few days of "vacation" and a bit of extra time together as a family.  He has asked me for several years to bring the children and join him for an extended stay in Scotland, on business.

Having an allergic kiddo, with many allergies, I have been resistant to traveling abroad.  Traveling with small children can be it's own challenge, adding food allergies to the mix can really complicate matters!  In the States, I have learned how to be quite flexible when traveling as I know what stores to purchase my specialty food items at, what the labeling laws are, what the 'secret' words for our allergens can be, and how to adapt based on my knowledge.

Traveling to a foreign country? Oh my. New labeling laws to learn, new words for the same ingredients, and some of my most trusted products being unavailable. I have turned down the opportunity many times.

Meanwhile, my husband has been snapping pictures of food labels in Scotland and sending them to me.  I have been online learning about labeling and manufacture practices. Slowly growing my comfort level.

This year I finally said yes.  I have gotten quite good at adapting recipes in very creative ways.  I also know how to drop back to the basics.  A long period of living on whole foods without packaged and processed options may not be the most exciting diet, but it would certainly be healthy!

I told my husband I was finally ready to try it.  The kids are old enough that traveling is easier, my comfort with the food supply was high, and my confidence is our ability to enjoy our visit was was finally in line with his enthusiasm for taking us along.

I will try to write the next few posts on our experiences navigating food allergies in a foreign country.  It has been an enjoyable visit, and I'd love to encourage every family with food allergies to entertain the idea of traveling.  It can be done safely!