Over the first half of this year I have done an insane amount of travelling for a combination of work, holiday and moving house. So far my travels have had me in Bulgaria, England, United States and the Caribbean with weather ranging from freezing snow, pouring rain and blistering sunshine.
As all you girls will know, packing can be a bit of a nightmare with just a couple different functions to attend, let alone drastic changes in temperatures. So I try to make life a little easier by staying at self catering accommodation because at least then I don’t have to worry about my food allergies as well as the packing.
What are the benefits of self catering accommodation?
You might think that staying at a hotel is easier, which in some cases it is. You don’t need to cook, you don’t need to clean your room or make your bed. However, you do have to eat on the hotel schedule and what the hotel has chosen to cook. I’m not saying staying at hotels is never a good idea, and I do love staying at a nice hotel on occasion, I’m just saying there are benefits to self catering too.
One of the benefits of self catering accommodation, when you have allergies, is that it allows for flexibility. You can choose to go out if you’ve found somewhere safe to eat, but you always have the fall back option of cooking yourself when you want, how you want and what you want.
Having your own kitchen means you have control over the food that you are eating and how it is being prepared. We all know cross-contamination is a huge risk and one of the risks that can be least understood, so cooking yourself reduces this and gives you more control.
8 Allergy Travel Essentials To Pack When Self Catering
I have done the vast majority of my travelling over the last 10 years, a combination of backpacking in India and across Europe, holidays in France, Bulgaria, USA, and now the Caribbean. Not to mention travelling in England since a kid for school trips and family holidays.
When you are on the road you don’t know exactly what you’ll need or when you’ll need it. When you rent self-catering accommodation they range from fully stocked to the bare basics and you never know what you’ll get where.
So, I now have a few everyday items I like to keep with me while I’m travelling. I have found time and time again I have to buy them and often you can only get big bottles or tins of this stuff which is never practical to haul around, not to mention expensive if you keep having to buy brand new ones.
I’ve also found these items will keep you feeling relaxed and add a little home touch to your holiday travels especially when you’ve had a long day of travelling and have just arrived at your destination.
Here is a list of my travel essentials to keep in your luggage when you’re on the road.
1. Salt and pepper
Some holiday rentals have salt and pepper, others don’t. Recently I’ve decided that I’m taking a little salt and pepper with me while I’m travelling so I can always season my food. It just makes food taste a little bit better when you’ve got few options to season. If you don’t have, or don’t want to buy a big bottle, I sometimes take some sachets from a canteen or cafe where I’ve bought a coffee. They’re often found next to the sugar and cutlery.
2. Your favourite seasoning
This is a home comfort for sure. Bring-a-long a little of your favourite herb or spice mix to add to your dishes. If you’re ever feeling home sick, something that smells or tastes like home is bound to make you feel more at home. Not to mention something you know is allergy safe for you.
3. Sugar sachets
Whether it’s for your tea, coffee or to add to your cooking, a few sachets of sugar have proved incredibly useful over my trips. A steaming sweet cup of coffee after a long day of travelling hits the spot, or I add it to the onions so they caramelise. It really brings out more flavour in a dish. If I’ve forgotten to pack sugar, I grab a few extra packets at a cafe where I get a coffee on my travels and pop them in my handbag for later.
4. Zip lock bags
This is a new edition to my travel bag, but I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it sooner. Always have about 10 zip lock bags handy. Perfect for food storage while travelling, keeping out the creepy crawleys in hot countries and also when you’ve forgotten your see-through toiletries bag for airport security. They also don’t take up much space and depending on the quality you buy have less chance of leakage than cling film.
Recently I’ve found them incredibly useful to make and store my airplane food. I was staying at a hotel on Saba island with a long couple days ahead of travelling to get back to England. I didn’t have a kitchen but could make sandwiches. I didn’t want to buy a whole roll of cling film or foil which I’d just leave behind. The zip lock bags were perfect and reusable!
5. Anti-bacterial wipes
You never know when anti-bacterial wipes will come in handy, but you centainly miss them when you don’t have them. You can get little packets of 10 tissues from most pharmacies and supermarkets. Use to clean your hands, wipe down surfaces and airplane seats, or to clean your feet off after walking barefoot – well, you are on holiday.
I sorely miss coffee when it’s not available, and if I’m honest, I’m a bit of a coffee snob. Instant just won’t do. I’ve started carrying a couple sachets of fresh coffee with me for airplane rides and for my morning coffee after a late arrival and all the shops are shut.
7. Allergy Safe Snacks
Always a good idea to have a few snacks. When my boyfriend and I arrived in Anguilla (Caribbean Island) at 5pm having started travelling at 3am that morning we were hungry. We’d also realised that the Island was much more spread out than we’d anticipated. It was too late to go to the car rental office and the supermarket was too far to walk. Thank fully I had packed a lot of high protein food for us to eat during the day (8 sausages and 6 egg omelette, bananas, a box of gluten free crackers, gluten free cookies and some chocolate). We had just enough left by the time we arrived in Anguilla to have a little snack and then collapse into bed.
I can tell you I was incredibly relieved I’d packed that much, no one is very nice when they are tired and hungry.
I also try to top up my stocks when I find a surprise allergy safe snack at a supermarket. Or at least to be aware of where to go to buy the snacks in preparation for departure. Just like when you’re heading out on holiday, you’re going to need snacks on the way back and when you’re not at home it takes a little longer to prepare.
8. (optional) Dairy free milk portions
I put this as optional because I personally haven’t started carrying these yet, but they are a very recent discovery while I was judging the Free From Food Awards the day before I was off on my USA and Caribbean adventure (posts coming soon). This discovery is UHT dairy free milk individual cartons! For anyone with a dairy allergy who can’t have their cup of tea or coffee without milk, this will be brilliant! There’s never a guarantee that you will find suitable milk, so taking a little supply will be so welcome. They’re also small enough to be taken through security! Wahey!!
So these are my allergy travel essentials when you are self catering. Thank you for reading. I hope you find my list useful!
Pin for later 🙂
I’d love to know what you always have in your allergy travel essentials pack. Please leave a comment below and share your tips!
Summer is coming and that means days out in the sunshine! (*fingers crossed*)
Over the last few months many of you in the Eat Allergy Safe Community have been emailing asking how to stay allergy safe this summer. One particular email asked specifically about Liverpool. (It is also around this time I started writing my Travelling with Allergies Guide – published soon!) A couple weeks later I was asked by the lovely people at Groupon whether I would write about things to do in Liverpool, the stars felt like they were aligning!
Liverpool is one of my favourite cities in England so I thought this was a great opportunity to talk about how I go about planning an allergy safe day out and some of the fun things you can do in Liverpool.
So lets get on with…
Part 1: How to Plan an Allergy Safe Day Out
- Research where you are going
Seems obvious, but it really is the first place to start. If you’re going to a new place don’t assume it will be the same as home. Depending on your allergies you may not find safe foods at take aways or restaurants, unless you know where to look!
Doing some research will also give you a feel for the place and give you an idea of not only what foods you want to try but also what sites you want to see. The docks and museums are my favourite place.
- Make a list of all the things you want to do, places you want to see and restaurants you want to eat at
You probably have a limited amount of time so you will want to fit in as much as possible. Making a list will help you decide the places you most want to visit, and also give you a handy quick reference of where you need to do some allergen menu checking.
When you make your list, remember to note down an email address and or telephone number too.
- Call or email ahead
Remember that list you just made and the contact details noted? Set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour to go through the list calling any of the places you think you may want to eat at.
When you call, you are calling for information first. Tell them you are coming on holiday and doing some research on where might be safe to eat with your allergies and can you just ask them about their allergy policy. This is also the time you can tell them about your specific allergy needs and find out whether they could cater for you or not.
If they say no, don’t be disheartened! It is better for them to be honest with you rather than you have a reaction because they lied!!
Read more about how to tell people about your allergies >>
- Have a schedule/itinerary (optional)
If you want to see lots and lots, having an itinerary listing out how to get places, what time to leave/arrive, where to get tickets, where to eat, along with contact numbers, can be incredibly handy! It takes some of the stress out the day because you know what to do when, and most importantly where you can eat! This means you have more time to relax and enjoy your day out on holiday.
- Double check allergen information with manager/caterer
As you do at home, when eating out or buying food, always double and triple check the allergen and ingredients labelling. This might mean reading a product packet or emailing a restaurant, and talking to the restaurant manager and your server when you arrive.
In the EU, all food whether packaged or open must be able to give ingredients and allergy information, and we have the top 14 allergens.
Read more about my allergy travel hacks >>
- Pack safe snacks
Like you do at home, have an allergy safe snack in your bag. You never know if something unexpected will come up (that’s why its unexpected…) so its best to be prepared. I know I don’t think straight nor am I reasonable when I’m hungry, so having something I can nibble on and keep the hunger pangs at bay really does help keep me calm and meet a challenge head on.
Part 2: Things to Do in Liverpool
Now that you know how to plan a day out, here are some recommendations for restaurants and fun things to do in Liverpool!
For dairy and egg allergy sufferers, there are now lots of vegan food offerings all over the city from small cafes to big chain restaurants. Nuts on the whole aren’t used in typical British food, but could be found in the ‘health’ food salads, and of course desserts are still a mine field.
Red’s True BBQ – many of the menu items don’t contain gluten, and none of the mains items contain nuts (as of when I last went).
Trattoria 51 – said to be incredibly allergy friendly with understanding staff (that’s half the battle!) and a gluten and dairy free menu.
Leaf – really good labelling of gluten free, contains nuts and vegan options. The menu looks delicious and I’ve heard some great recommendations!
Nation-wide Chains: Carluccio’s, Pizza Express, Bella Italia all have a gluten free menu and understanding when I say I have a nut allergy. Many have dairy free options too!
Food on the Go
There isn’t a one shop sells everything that is suitable for allergy sufferers unfortunately, not when you are in a hurry. So food on the go is picnic style. My standard way is grab some cold meats, cheese (there are many dairy free options now too), a take away salad or gluten free sandwich and some fruit and thats lunch. I usually have some leftover, so that’s the afternoon’s snack too. Here’s where I shop:
Marks & Spencers supermarket have without a doubt the best food-on-the-go selection! Their aim is the gluten free market however, their sandwiches don’t have nut warnings, nor do most of the cold meat selections. For nut allergy sufferers, items are clearly marked when they are not suitable.
Tesco supermarket is the next on the list of allergy friendly food on the go. Again, primarily targeted at the gluten free market, but they are starting to add in more dairy and egg free options for desserts and savoury crackers.
Places to Visit
Day at Albert Dock & the Museums
The docks are on the water front and you can see the old industrial architecture has been preserve. The buildings are now how to museums such as the Tate, Beetles Museum and the Maritime Museum. You could easily spend a day just on the Albert Dock and a picnic (if the sun’s shining) overlooking the water is wonderful!
Evening at the Theatre
Liverpool is a metropolitan city with a great night life. Part of that night life is the theatres. Many of the big London shows will tour to Liverpool on their way round the country and you have everything from Shakespeare to Pantomime, Ballet to Opera, and comedy!
Things to Do
If you, or your kids, want a bit more adventure on their holiday, you will find something for even the pickiest! Get involved with activities such as paint-balling, bowling, funfairs, trampolining, treasure hunts and open air bus tours. Groupon on always has some fantastic deals for things to do in Liverpool so make sure click on the “Things to do” title above!
Pin for later 🙂
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: Android |
In the last episode I was open and honest about where Eat Allergy Safe is right now and my efforts to keep it going. The solution is to make it a viable business both to keep the blog, podcast and me in house and home.
What viable business could I make? Much of my time is spent answering questions via email and on social media so I thought the most sensible solution is to start personal consultations, a.k.a Allergy Coaching. In this podcast episode I talk all about Allergy Coaching: what is it, who’s it for, why it would be useful to you, where it happens and how you can book in.
I will charge by the hour at $60/£40. If you would like to book for a session, book a free 15 minute consultation and find out some more information, send me an email today.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: Android |
If you’re on my email list, you will have received this email last week. Although this wasn’t comfortable for me to write or record, it’s time I ask for help.
Like most people, I choose not to openly discuss money issues. But I’m going to put that to one side because I think it’s more important to tell you the whole truth of my own finances and therefore the future of Eat Allergy Safe…
Eat Allergy Safe Now
I run Eat Allergy Safe out of my own pocket and have done so for the last 3 years. I have a few products I sell including Chocolate Truffles and my first recipe book Chocolate Treats. But the majority of content I do for free, including:
- Blog posts
- Podcast and video episodes
- Recipe posts
- Email list hints and tips
- Answering private messages asking for advice about allergy management (this takes a lot of time)
The truth is, book and truffle sales are enough to cover only a small portion of running Eat Allergy Safe. The rest of my expenses are covered by my freelance tutoring (for GCSE and a-level students) and from my savings. These costs include:
- Website hosting
- Podcast hosting
- Recording equipment
- Food for recipes
- My time, which I can’t spend on other money generating activities
The Future of Eat Allergy Safe
To keep this project going, as well as keep myself in house and home, I have to start changing the mix of free vs paid services I offer. The things I will keep doing for free are:
- Blog posts
- Podcast episodes
- Recipe posts
- Allergy Show talks
What I Will Start Charging For
Most of my time is spent answering people’s questions online or via email. I realise that this information is valuable, and after positive feedback a couple months ago, I have designed a consultation service, a.k.a Allergy Coaching $60 (or £40) per hour, which will be conducted by phone or online via Skype. Allergy Coaching can be 1-on-1 for you and your spouse, or family sessions.
I think this is the most reasonable solution to keep Eat Allergy Safe and myself going. Without it I have to spend more time on other paying jobs and you would receive much less valuable information as a result.
If $60 / £40 per hour is too much for you but you would still like to ask questions and get advice, please ‘reply’ to this email. I may set up a private paid group for those who want to pay less. In there you’d be able to ask questions online as long as you are subscribed.
What My Boyfriend Said About This
It has been really tough to write this email. (I tried 4 times before it was even semi coherent.) The idea of charging for something that I would happily give away for free is terrifying! And how do you put a price tag on it? When I came up with £40/$60, I told my other half and he said, “well that’s cheap, mines $150 p/hr!”.
How You Can Help, Without Spending Anything
If you are not in a position where you need allergy coaching please pass my information on to another parent who is in the first phase of dealing with an allergy diagnosis. Here’s the link you can forward: www.eatallergysafe.com/coaching
I really want Eat Allergy Safe to live on and become something that helps people every day. So that you don’t feel alone or helpless in the overwhelm of diagnosis, or feel guilty that your child has a food allergy but that you can give your child the life you dream for them. I feel the only way to make this happen is to turn Eat Allergy Safe into a viable business, and the larger it becomes the more people we can help who’ve just received the dreaded allergy diagnosis.
Thank you for your understanding and for helping me take this idea forward.
P.S. Here’s the link you can share with details of Allergy Coaching: www.eatallergysafe.com/coaching
P.P.S You can find out more about coaching by listening to the next episode, click here>>
So, Allergy Awareness Week UK is over, and Allergy Awareness Month USA is here! During Allergy Awareness Week I got some messages asking about how to travel with allergies and live with allergies, this has spurred me on to develop the Allergy Coaching and make some e-books and resources. So to make sure these resources cover everything and that they are useful to you I have created a short 10 questions survey. Please can you fill it in with as much details as possible and pass it on to any other allergy mums or allergy sufferers you know?