How to Eat During a Stopover
I bet you have a routine for feeding yourself on a flight and once you reach your destination. But what if you have a full day stopover? How do you go about eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner while in a city for a short amount of time? Flying often causes anxiety in people with allergies because the thought of having a reaction in a confined and isolated space is frightening. What if you have a reaction in between flights? What if you have a reaction on the plane to something you ate while on the ground? It's easy to think of a thousand scenarios in which something can go wrong.
I had to manage my anxiety while on a full day stopover in Chicago. Bran and I were there from 8am to 5pm so we had to have all three meals in the city before departing for our destination. Here are some strategies I used to manage the situation.
Prep carbs ahead of time
Before you depart for your initial flight make sure to have some "safe" foods packed in your carry-on. I like to make a batch of scones or cookies that can be stores in a ziploc bag in my purse. That way I can snack on them in the flight (since I don't eat airplane food), during the stopover, and then on the continuing flight. I bring carbs specifically because they fill you up quickly and don't spoil easily. Sometimes I bring a banana or apple but depending on where you land they might not let you take it off the plane.
Keep your meds handy
Keep your Epi Pens and Benadryl with you at all times. If landing at a US airport there likely won't be lockers to rent and you may not be able to check your bags depending on how long your stopover is. But if you are landing somewhere that will hold your bags, make sure your meds don't stay in there while you're out exploring. Avoid keeping your Epi Pens in a checked bag that will go under the plane because the temperature is not controlled and they could overheat or become too cold.
You don't have to eat the same things as everyone else
Chicago is famous for a lot of foods, for example, deep dish pizza. I am unfortunately allergic to a lot of their infamous foodie attractions but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy when others experience them. Bran doesn't have any allergies so although we ate at a place that could accommodate both of us I wouldn't have minded if he wanted to sample more local fare.
Redefine "fast food"
For most people fast food means McDonald's, KFC, or some other chain that serves quick food you can take on the go. For me fast food is a piece of fruit or a tin of tuna from the grocery store, a scone or homemade granola from my purse, and a coffee or juice (usually from Starbucks). I often pack Enjoy Life bars for a sweet treat that travels well. Bran will grab a bite from a fast food place that he prefers and we'll both sit down to eat; him with his version of lunch and me with mine. Like I stated above, you don't always have to eat the same thing as everyone else.
Stick with what you know
This is not the time to be adventurous. I know that a typically safe food for me is a boiled egg, fruit, and coffee. This meal can fly for breakfast, brunch, or lunch, so it's one of my go-to's. When we stopped for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidienne just outside Millennium Park, I had my usual breakfast while Bran had a really delicious-looking open-faced sandwich. I order this meal often when dining out because it's simple and predictable and generally there is no oil or butter on a boiled egg. I also order them unpeeled to be extra careful.
And finally, remember to get traveler's health insurance! If something does happen you won't want to be stuck with a huge bill. Even if only stopping somewhere for a day, it's worth the fee.