Are you prepared for travel teams?
Here’s the scenario – your child has food allergies and wants to travel with his team.
A lot can go right and go wrong.
My own team travel story
When our sons were very young our family traveled to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina with my soccer team and their families for a tournament. Everyone booked suites in the same beach front hotel. This was very convenient for social, recreational and transportation reasons.
‘Yay’, we said, ‘we’re going to the beach.’ Planning commenced including informing my team mates how we keep our son FA safe. They understood but that didn’t mean his allergens would not be present.
14 gals hanging out and playing soccer.
7 families with children came bearing tree nuts, peanut butter sandwiches, Go-gurts, yogurts, cheese sticks, and ice cream. These staples were eaten on the sidelines and in their suites.
You know how kids eat. Reckless abandon. Food is mobile. They wear it, spill it, eject it…all normal childhood behavior.
FA exposure was looming around like smoke around a flame.
One evening we tried to hang out with the team and their families in one of their suites. Fear and readiness to respond with epi embraced me. We couldn’t handle the allergens present. It was a short and thankfully uneventful night.
We felt socially isolated and fearful. That’s not fun or safe. Our FA children feel the same most days.
How do you prevent this when your child wants to travel with his/her team?
Competition and food allergies can be a stressful mix
We learned a big lesson. Mental wellness preparation is a must-do. It is as important as carrying emergency medication and knowing when to use it. Also, have a plan ‘B’ when the social situation is too much to handle or unsafe and you have no control over the event.
Preparing for team traveling
1. Talk with your young athlete to learn what their fears are – address those fears together while planning.
2. Arrange accommodations with room mates who they trust will protect them.
3. Practice an overnight at your home to help the room mates/team mates learn how to be FA safe and have fun.
4. Traveling athletes should have at least one adult, parent or guardian, who is their ‘FA safety adult’ attending the event.