Planning + Packing. Readying Yourself For Travel

Pass the tuna

Photos by Karrie Kwong

Two weeks ago I was in NYC again for business and decided to stay on for the long weekend. If you haven't read my business travel posts before you can find them here and here. My close pal Karrie joined me and we planned do a lot of eating, walking, and photographing all weekend long. We stayed at the Ace Hotel and later, Gild Hall

I'm anaphylactic to dairy, nuts, peanuts, and legumes, so my travel planning requires more detail in regards to food than a non-allergic person. Fast food? Not an option. Restaurants in general? Extremely tricky. I plan what I'll eat for each meal of the day and where, and often bring food, or what I like to call purse snacks, not because I'm an insatiable glutton who needs pockets full of cookies at all times, but because I most often cannot find readily available safe food. 

- Buy travel medical insurance if traveling internationally. Having a reaction that requires hospitalization can be mad expensive, aside from being obviously terrible
- Bring Epi Pen/Auvi Q(s) to keep with you, as well as at least one backup to keep in your room. If yours is lost or stolen you may not be able to replace it right away, and they are not available in all countries (ex. Mexico). I always keep 2 in my purse and 2 in the room.
- Carry Benadryl
- Bring an allergy translation card if the spoken language is different from your own
- Call ahead to restaurants and make reservations. Let them know about your allergies in advance so you don't get stuck with nowhere to eat
- Bring backup food because you never know when you'll need it
- Know the local emergency number
- Research accessibility and proximity of hospitals
- Remember to enjoy yourself!

- Travel without an Epi Pen or Auvi Q
- Leave your Epi Pen in your checked luggage. Bags get lost, and the temperature under the plane is not regulated like it is in the cabin
- Leave yourself in the lurch without any pocket snacks

What foods to bring and how much?
I knew that my schedule would not allow me to eat lunch at a sit-down restaurant while working, so I would have to have something to eat on the go. I also knew that I'd be able to grab coffee in the morning (there's a Stumptown Coffee in the lobby of the Ace), but that I most definitely would not be able to eat their pastries. So I had to plan for breakfast as well. By sheer stroke of luck my room was upgraded at no extra charge so I had a dining table for 6!

When in doubt, bring more. I still kick myself over not bringing a pack of Starbucks Via's with me to Germany. I was there for work for a week and assumed they would have a coffee maker in the hotel, or at least a coffee shop nearby. When I arrived and found that they only had instant coffee (no English ingredients list) and a kettle, and there were no cafe's within close walking distance. I gave myself a mental slap. It wouldn't have added any weight to my bag and I should have known to trust my gut. 

What did I pack?
Aside from clothes, 3 kinds of mascara, a hair iron, you know... all the necessities, I packed the following foods:
- 2 bananas and an orange for the plane ride there. Because as my mom always says, you never know when you'll get stuck in an airport
- 3 boxes of Enjoy Life cocoa loco bars, though I think 1 box would have sufficed
- 4 small tins of tuna in olive oil - could I be any more Italian - the ready-serve kind with the pull-off lid. I had one each morning for a necessary hit of protein before starting my day
- 1 loaf of homemade banana bread, sliced and portioned into Ziploc baggies so I could quickly throw a piece in my purse each morning
- 1 batch of homemade protein bars, also portioned for ease
- 1 box of Benadryl tabs, and 4 Epi Pens - 2 for my purse and 2 backup ones for the room

And somehow I fit it all in my carry-on bag. Please hold your applause. 

What did I buy?
Karrie went grocery shopping the morning after she arrived and grabbed a bunch of room snacks (Kettle Chips for me, Doritos for her), bananas, strawberries, apples, and oranges, as well as enough bottles of water to satiate someone lost in the desert. I'm a bit of a water snob, I carried 1 L of Fiji with me everywhere and at all times. After I accidentally drank a bottle of so-called "water" with enhanced water flavor and an ingredients list (have you ever heard of such a thing?!) the necessity of my snobbery was affirmed.

Coming soon - Allergy-Friendly Eats in NYC