Holiday Travel Extreme
Travelling can be stressful. Travelling with a little one can be very stressful. Travelling with an Allergy Baby? I consider early weaning just so I can self-medicate with wine on the flight. Not kidding. I mean, I'm kidding about weaning so I can drink but not about the fact that I considered it.
You know the term "Blissful Ignorance"? Well, this will be our fourth flight with our little in her first year. The first flight, she was four months old and nursing exclusively, and we were wonderfully unaware of her allergies so the flight and trip were a dream. We loved travelling with her, and she slept the entire five hour flight. High five Mommy and Daddy!
Yeah...the second flight was a transatlantic flight when she was six months old. Again, she was only eating select purees. We knew about the egg allergy and avoided exposing her to that allergen. Over the course of a two week trip, she had three mystery attacks of hives and vomiting which we, in our blissful ignorance, did not realize were allergic reactions to cheese and yogurt we were feeding her. But overall, the worst part of the trip was the week after when she was still on European time and thought 2 am was party time. Low five Mommy and Daddy...
Between the second and third trip, we realized that something was definitely wrong in terms of the allergies. The third flight was the first stressful travel experience when it came to allergens. Over the course of the flight we were berated by airline crew for not giving appropriate notice of the baby's allergies, treated like total jerks for asking to board early enough to wipe down the baby's and our seats before the other passengers boarded, and when the announcement was made about the consumption of nuts on the aircraft, the crew clearly stated "peanuts" and not "all nuts" which prompted a sweet lady beside me to offer some of her hazelnut chocolates as a mid-flight snack. Ugh. But we survived and we are definitely more equipped for the flight ahead. Here are my tips for airline travel with an Allergy Baby.
First of all, when you book your flight call Customer Service for your airline immediately. They will have a Special Needs access line where you can call and talk to someone about your baby's needs. We called Delta and a wonderful woman in Ohio set us up with a two seat row so no one else would be sharing our seats. She told me that if you wait to call, the seats could be full and it could be harder to score seats where you aren't with additional travellers. She also made notes on our profile showing the baby's allergies, that they are airborne, and requesting that no nuts be sold or served on board the flight. And guess what? She also said to approach the gate agent as early as possible upon arrival and ask to board early in order to wipe down the seats and area. And she assured me that we are not jerks for asking.
The key is getting to the airport nice and early so we can organize ourselves. I carry a crap-ton of various wipes for various purposes. I also go everywhere with disposable mats for the change tables. I've long ago gotten over looking like a neurotic mom when I take my baby out into public spaces. Believe me, I would LOVE to be one of those cool moms who lets their baby lick subway poles and hand rails and just shrugs and laughs. Oh, trust me. I'm jealous of those moms...I'm just not one. Or maybe I was before all this, then everything changed. Our little one has had reactions to change tables, public high chairs, shopping carts. So we take no chances in places like airports and planes.
But the good thing is, the more we do this the better we get. We have learned to travel with tons and tons of safe baby food--here's the thing, you can bring it through airport security, so don't worry. Stock up! We travel with three epi pens, a full bottle of baby benedryl, and all the gear we need to keep our little one safe. And we carry it all on board, so we can access it in case of an emergency. So far, we have been pretty lucky. We've had three successful flights and some great holidays, and we are looking forward to the next one.