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Family Vacation and Food Allergies

July 20, 2019

Sorry this took so long but here it is!!

We recently vacationed at Massanutten Resort in Massanutten, Virgina. It was absolutely wonderful! I had a little bit of anxiety because it took multiple emails to finally get a hold of the main chef for the resort and it was a few days before we left, that I actually heard back from him. However, once we did speak, I got a feeling of calm. Don't get me wrong, I still had anxiety about going away. I mapped out the nearest grocery stores, Chik-fil-a's as back ups plus the local hospital.

I normally don't shop at Walmart but my son's daycare does for their snacks. As much as I dislike the corporation, they actually do put cross-contamination warnings on their brands of food. So that's enough to get me on Team Wally-World. There was a Walmart right in the heart of the town. So, I knew what we couldn't pack at home, we'd stop and get some staples there.

What food we packed:
My son is a little bit of a brand snob. He will only eat Wegman's Chicken nuggets. I've tried another brand, that look exactly the same and he refuses to eat them. Heat up some Wegman's nugs and their gone in a minute. He lives on nugs. In order to have a semi-stress free vacation, we needed to pack those frozen suckers on ice and haul them along.

I also packed some pouches, some snack size bags of chips, pretzels, allergy friendly cupcakes and juice boxes.

What items we took along:
A few pans, silverware, cooking utensils, his cups and I think that's it. Oh and Clorox wipes!

Basically, I took the whole medicine cabinet. Inhaler w/spacer, Epi's, Benadryl, Tylenlol, Sun block, Bug spray and threw it all in a bag.

Once, we arrived at our condo, complete with our own full size kitchen. (Whenever we go away now, we always get a full size kitchen. Managing food allergies and vacations are hard enough. Get the full size kitchen. It's worth it.) I unpacked the Clorox wipes and got straight to cleaning the kitchen, the cabinet hardware, stove, microwave buttons, fridge handle, counter tops, kitchen table, everything! Then I moved onto the living areas, door knobs, end tables, coffee table. I wiped down my son's room.

We then hit up the local Walmart and did some food shopping. We didn't want to eat out every meal. So we got some lunch items and got ingredients for two dinners. Paper plates, paper towels. tin foil, plastic cups. Sorry, mother earth, we didn't do you any favors that week.

We didn't use anything that was provided at the condo. Community dishes, cups, and all that stuff, really turn me off and now, even more so with my son. I could stomach it in vacations past, if we re-washed stuff and ran it through the dishwasher but I was all for enjoying this vacation as much as I could.

Eating away from the condo:
The resort was great! Very allergy friendly!!! We ate at Virgina BBQ and Pizza. They had a binder full of what Top 8 allergens were in each item. We stuck to just pulled pork and we took all our meals to go. We ate back at our condo, so my son could have the chips and more sides to choose from there.

One night we ate off the resort at Capital Ale House. The service was wonderful. We ordered my son a plain burger and baked french fries. That's his favorite meal.

The other resort restaurant that we ate was Campfire Grille. That place was awesome inside! I told the server of our food allergies and showed him our chef's card (more on that below). The chef actually came out to our table and talked with us. We went over the card, what my son could eat and the chef was more than willing to personally cook his meal. Of course, my son wanted.....a hamburger and baked french fries. However, these were curly fries, so it was love at first bite. Funny thing is, we got curly fries at home after our vacation and he hates them! There is that brand snob again.

The only semi issue with the resort was at the Water Park. They didn't have legit restaurants there. They only had little snack bar areas. So cross-contamination was a high risk. I was never planning on eating there for my son, but if we were, with our allergies, it would've been very hard. The manager at the one snack bar was more than willing to try to work with us, I thanked him for the offers but I declined. It was just too risky. My husband and I got some food there and we got our son a slushy. He was more than happy with that. We ate off our laps because I didn't have my wipes with me to wipe down the tables. Even if the tables are clean, I always wipe them down. We left soon after to go back to the condo for lunch for my son and a much needed nap.

Sweet Frog was wonderful as well. They left me look at the ingredient list for the vegan fro-yo and left him use the oreos out of the original container to avoid the cross-contamination. Plus the pink color changing spoon was the most amazing, best thing, he ever saw.

We don't eat out often with our son. So this vacation was definitely, a lot, outside of my comfort zone. He's at the age where he doesn't want, what I pack. He doesn't get his situation yet. He ate a ton of meals that I didn't prepare that week. It did feel good to feel --- some what--- normal. When your a mom of an allergy kiddo, your control is strong. You control everything. It's hard to take a step back. I get it.

Some helpful hints for any restaurant that we go to:
We also opt for restaurants to bake the french fries, toss them in some oil. I don't trust fryers unless they are strictly for french fries. Only fryers I trust are Red Robin and Chik-fil-a.

I always carry a Chef's Card, that I printed off of the Food Allergy Research Education (www.foodallergy.org) It's very helpful when trying to explain your allergies and cross-contamination to servers, managers and chefs. Whenever, we do go out. I always have the server take the card back to the kitchen to show the chef or the manager.

We always wipe down the table and the chairs before I let my son sit down. Even if it looks clean.

Fun on vacation:
It may seem like a daunting task but it can be done. I left him play on playgrounds, I left him touch things. I left him feed animals at a petting zoo. He touched the play equipment at the water park. Was I freaking out inside. Uhhhh yes. Did I let my anxiety show to him? No. I just watched him, like a hawk. We constantly washed hands, if a sink was available I used our hand wipes. I was always on high alert. Outside of our condo, it wasn't very relaxing but vacations are now for the kids.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. If you ever have any questions. Please feel free to email me anytime!

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