Don't get me wrong, travelling with any medically complex child earns you the right to feel smug about what is no small feat when you return home, triumphant yet in need of a proper holiday to recover.... but travelling without knowing if you can actually FEED your child precipitates a nasty churning feeling in your stomach which has thus far put me off trying.
That's fine if you have summers like 2008 or 2010 with long weeks of summer sun and you can do THIS in the UK...
But sometimes our temperamental climate just doesn't cut it. We are desperate to travel next year so I ask some of my lovely Facebook Group friends to offer some advice.
- FamilySafe Plus is an excellent secure online resource for holding ALL your medical info, they then give you an emergency contact number and a Family ID. A Medic Alert bracelet with these details on is incredibly useful when travelling.
- If you don't use something like the above, carry a list of your child's doctors contact details with you at all times.
- Invest in a good Medic Alert bracelet in advance.
- For a credit card type of ID UCardit are great, a very friendly company. We have cards in pockets on their car seats and ID cards on lanyards.
- For EU countries you MUST have an up to date EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
- If you are planning on using any childcare/creches/holiday clubs whilst away consider personalising an "About Me" sheet for your child.
- Take time to find the best insurance for YOU. They vary widely, some are so "one size fits all" that you pay far more than necessary so they can cover all possible problems. Your quote can be hugely varied so shop around.
- If you carry an Epipen for your child let the airline know, they have been known to request other passengers don't eat trigger foods for the safety of one individual. They may also be alb to provide a special safe meal.
- DON'T assume last minute notice is ok. Plan, plan, plan. It really is a case of death by lists, communicating with everyone in advance and ensuring you won't face any surprises.
- Some people post food parcels in advance of travelling (good if you are visiting relatives or friends) and know their food has arrived before travelling.
- A letter from your child's consultant/GP stipulating diagnoses, symptoms, medications is invaluable - and essential if you are taking liquid feed and/or medications. Also take a prescription list.
- Keep ALL medications in your hand luggage and enough food for a couple of meals at least in case you get stuck. They MUST be in original containers with original labels.
- Some airlines permit an additional piece of luggage or offer extra baggage allowance if one case/bag is used for medication or food your child needs. Lock and label your cases CLEARLY.
One mum said "We travelled with Easyjet last year and had no problems with it at all. We are flying with Virgin Atlantic this summer and their special assistance team has been fab at adding a note to M's booking to note that this is what we'll be doing."And another had good experiences for calling the airline company prior to travelling too:-
"Last year I rang the airline we were travelling with and explained I was very concerned about E's luggage as it had to go in the hold due to liquids but that we could not manage without - had food and her ACE washout solution.They agreed to specially tag the one bag with all E's food and medication in at checkout. When we arrived at the gate they were able to scan my boarding pass and confirm that that bag had been loaded. This year they have given us extra 10kg hand luggage so I can take all the dry food and stoma bags etc on with us."
- Search online for stores local to your destination to see if they stock safe foods. Consider calling - an expensive phone call is worth it for a happy holiday.
- If you need cool packs, don't use the gel ones as they are not allowed, use the hard ones instead.
- Try and obtain translation cards for your destination country to explain your child's allergy.
But the final word has to go to my lovely friend Anna.
Her twelve year old daughter has multiple allergies and has had a tough few years health-wise. Undeterred Anna took the family abroad this month with nearly all her daughter's food packed in her suitcase, including a cake tin, mix and icing for her daughter's birthday cake.