Traveling has always been something that my Hubby and I enjoyed. Once our oldest son, Simon (now 2), was born, we continued to travel and by the time he turned 1, he had flown to Florida twice and once to Arizona. But with our youngest son’s food allergies, it has been a bit of a game changer. While we do plan to fly with him in the near future, we so far have done only road trips until we feel comfortable flying with him on an airplane. I recently heard that Sun Country does not serve peanuts on airplanes (which is a STEP in the right direction), but more on that at a later date.
We are on our way home from a 15-day trip (including drive time) to Florida. We rented a condo near Lover’s Key State Park near Fort Meyers Beach, but took day trips to Captiva, Sanibel, Naples, Miami and Orlando.
We rented a condo with a separate bedroom, family room, full kitchen and bathroom. Having a full kitchen was absolutely necessary for making allergy-friendly foods for meals in and taking in a cooler for our days out. We had been told by the owner that the condo had recently been renovated and everything in it was brand-new, including the furniture. This would sound awesome to anyone, but to a parent of a kid with food allergies, it sounded AMAZING. So, we crossed our fingers and hoped that it really was as nice as it appeared in the pictures. Let me tell you, it was AWESOME! Everything was new and clean. This made doing the initial clean upon arrival to remove any food residue that much less gross and easier of a job. Seriously, this place was spotless. Even in the places I would expect dust when I wiped it down, there wasn’t. Back before we were blessed with our youngest, we would arrive at a hotel and do a quick wipe down with my packed canister of Clorox wipes before settling in. The quick wipe down included the phone, remotes, kitchen/bathroom/front door handles, and all light switches. We also would throw a fitted sheet over the cloth couch that came standard in most hotel rooms and may as well have had a sign on it that read, “Head lice, anyone?”. Now, with a child with severe allergies, one being peanuts, it changed from a quick wipe down to full-out deep clean.
The first thing we did when we arrived at the condo was remove all the plush, long stringed rugs from the condo and put them in the hall closet, leaving behind wood throughout the condo and tile in the bathroom. The bedding from the bed, cloth throw pillows from the couch and the tall plant that was just asking a 1 and 2 year old to knock it over joined the rugs in the closet. The glass seashell plate and a ceramic sailboat were moved from the end table to the high dresser (not for food allergy purposes…just sanity). The fitted sheet I brought for the couch wasn’t needed because this one was leather so I could just quickly wipe it down to remove any possible peanut residue without having to cover it.
Now, all we were left with was wipe-able surfaces. We had asked the owner if they could leave their Swiffer accessible so we could make sure to keep the floor clean after our messy toddlers finished their meals which they were happy to do. With the rugs all moved into the closet, a quick initial Swiffer cleaning was all that was needed on the floors. Then, a quick wipe down of all handles, counters, and all kitchen surfaces and the inside of the refrigerator to prevent any cross contamination. This may seem like a ridiculous amount of cleaning for a vacation, but it sounds like more work than it actually was. It all only took about 40 minutes thanks to Neal being preoccupied with a snack in our high chair that we brought with us and Simon being preoccupied with a new toy he got for Christmas. It was the same amount of time it took my husband to bring in the stuff out of the car. So once that 40 minutes were up, the condo was safe for Neal (1) to roam without the fear of an allergic reaction and it felt like “home” (but in much warmer weather and with a view of the ocean!!). Doing the work up front made it feel like we could fully relax –No constant exclamations of, “Gross! Don’t touch that!” Or, worrying about a tiny food crumb making its way into Neal’s mouth and causing an anaphylactic allergic reaction. Or, having to do a constant lunge for the fake plant vase that was next to the couch (which resided in the closet for the duration of our stay) every time one of the jokesters attempted to knock it over with their airplane riding toy (trust me, it would have happened!). As I am riding in the car on our way back home and reflecting on our trip, I truly feel like not only was it an absolute blast, but also like I was able to RELAX and feel refreshed, energized and ready to head back and get into our normal routines again.