AllergyMoms Newsletter

Allergic Living Sample
Kyle and Gina
Kyle Dine, Gina Clowes at Sabrina Shannon Documentary Premier

In this issue, I interview one of the most upbeat advocates I know, Kyle Dine. One of the things that initially worried me when my son was diagnosed with food allergies, was the thought that he would never see the world. Kyle put that notion to rest for me, and I hope he inspires you to find ways to travel safely with food allergies. 


Take care,


Gina Clowes

P.S. What if there was an easy way to show teachers and classmates what it's like to be a child with food allergies and how easy it is to include them? 

My book does just that with pictures of real food allergic kids and adults. Order today so that you'll have it in plenty of time to share with your child's teachers. Let the real pictures show how hard exclusion is on our kids and how good it can feel to be 

P. P. S. What Every Parent Must Know About Managing Food Allergies at School! I'm conducing a FREE training webinar (join by phone or computer) next month. Sign up now as spaces are limited! Or click here to read more. 


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Kyle Dine Talks Travel 

Gina Clowes: For those who don't know you yet, would you share Kyle with carda little about yourself? 

Kyle Dine:  I've had food allergies all of my life to peanuts, tree nuts, mustard, fish, shellfish and egg.  I outgrew a milk allergy as a child. I'm a musician, educator, and performer, and I also run  


Gina: Which of your allergies is the hardest to manage?


Kyle: Egg. It's in everything! Pasta, muffins, hamburger buns.
When I look at a menu, I can cross off at least half the menu because of egg.


Gina: When did you get to the point where you felt you had a handle on managing your food allergies?

Kyle: I grew up in the 80's and 90's. I didn't take my allergies as seriously as I should have. I had a lot of allergic reactions. Ugh.

But when I was at university, I had my worst reaction ever.  A life-changing reaction.


I ate a brownie that I was told was safe for me, but it contained cashews. It was such a severe reaction. A real wake-up call.


Before that, I was reliant on my family and others to keep me safe. I realized that others can make mistakes. These are my allergies and I need to manage them. My life depends on it.


Gina: Yes and you are so helpful to others too. When did you get the travel bug?


Kyle: When I was in university in 2005, I went to Sweden on exchange. I loved meeting people from around the world and hearing their experiences over dinner. The sights, the culture. I loved all of it and I've been traveling ever since.


Gina: What about your food allergies? Do you feel limited?     


Kyle: I look at travel on a much broader scale. So I don't think food allergies are limiting.  For me, it's not about the food. It's about the sights, the history, the museums, the people, and the wine! (laughs)

Food is about nutrients. Yes, I get into situations that are challenging, where there may be nothing I can eat. That's why I have my pockets stuffed with safe granola bars!


Gina: So you're always packing granola bars! What kind?

peanut free bars Kyle: Here in Canada, Quaker makes nut and peanut free varieties so I stock up on those. They're in the trunk of my car. They're in my suitcase. Everywhere!


Gina: What else is in your suitcase?


Kyle: A loaf of safe bread. I can typically find meat or cheese but with bread you never know if it will contain egg, nuts or other allergens. One loaf will last me all week.  I'll also pack some safe candy, and I eat these bagel bite chips.


Gina: I like that. Not worth taking chances. Any tips for flying?


Kyle: Of course. I never, ever eat the airline food. I pack myself these fantastic sandwiches! (laughs) I put everything on it and when I unwrap it, I'm just smiling. People will often ask "What do you have there?"

I've had minor issues where someone next to me is about to open a bag of peanuts or nuts. One time, I offered to buy the guy next to me a drink if he would refrain from opening up a bag of nuts. He was nice about it.


Gina: Any surprises when traveling?


Kyle: Oh sure. A couple of years ago, my wife and I were in China for three weeks. We were careful, not eating out a lot at all. But they had this milk tea everywhere. It's just milk and tea.


A few days before we were supposed to go home, we go to this caf´┐Ż and decided to try it. We order it, and it was scooped out of a big pot and was served in a cup with a lid on it.


I just got this weird feeling, you know?

I dunked my spoon in, and when I lifted the spoon out of the steaming tea, it was full of crushed almonds!   

milk tea with almonds 

I looked at my wife almost in horror, and she just stared at me and asked: You didn't have any did you? 

I said "No" and we were on our way. We spend so much time focusing on food when beverages can be just as dangerous.


To think that I was this close to putting that in my mouth!

Gina: You just never know. So glad you didn't try it.


Other than carrying snacks with you and inspecting food before you eat it, what other tips do you have for dining when traveling?


Kyle: It's always best to research first. You can go on and read reviews of restaurants in other countries. If they get 'gluten-free' they may be good with other food allergies as well.


My wife has celiac so we need to find a restaurant that can accommodate her needs and mine.


When we get to a new restaurant, I will look over the menu and try to identify what might work. I'm looking for simple, low risk meals. I ask a lot of questions too.


It's always good if you can learn at least a bit of the language so you can say "No nuts, No eggs" etc.

Allergy card


Then I follow up with my Allergy Translation cards as well - always. There are other cards like this that work too but please be careful with some of the free versions. We use certified translators.

Free online translation tools often contain mistakes and don't always take the context into account.  It's not worth taking a chance with something  as important as communicating your food allergies.


I also find out about emergency care. In the US, you dial 911 for emergencies. You dial 112 in most of Europe.


I recommend travel insurance too. Luckily, I've never had to seek medical care when traveling.


Gina: Good to know. Of all of the places you been, are there any places that stand out?    


Kyle: Every place is so special. I've been to Morocco, China, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and all across Europe. We had our honeymoon in Finland. I've been in North America coast to coast. This summer we were in Italy.


The Arctic circle in Finland stands out. The northern lights, dog sleds, reindeer rides. There was only about 30 minutes of sunlight a day. It was like being in a different world!


They were very aware of allergies there. Many gluten free safe groceries options even in vending machines: gluten free cookies, candies and biscuits. I found they were generally allergy aware too.


We just got back from Italy last week, and we ate at a restaurant at least once a day!

In Europe, we have had mostly positive experiences. In cities that are tourist attractions, they often speak English so that is helpful.

We did have to go to a buffet once for an event. Knowing buffets are a risk, I made myself a nice sandwich ahead of time. I am not adventurous with food when traveling. While we were at the event, I enjoyed a ton of delicious fruit. It was great.


Gina: When you travel do you typically get a place with a kitchen? Is it hard to manage since you and your wife avoid different foods?


Kyle: My wife is shaking her head. At home we have separate toasters, cutting boards etc. We mark our separate margarine containers with markers. We make it work.

We both travel with food and take each others needs very seriously. When traveling, we prefer booking an accommodation with a kitchen such as a private flat.


Gina: Any other advice for food allergy families who want to travel?


Kyle: If you have a place with a kitchen, you can grocery shop for safe fruit and vegetables and supplement with the safe foods that you buy locally.

In some places, I relied on McDonalds-- which are all over the world. You may not eat the most healthy diet while you travel but you'll be safe and have a great time.


I have parents contact me terrified because their high school or college student wants to travel or study abroad. It's the experience of a lifetime! I say plan ahead and go! It's a great way for young people to take their own allergy management to the next level.


Gina: Thank you so much Kyle. This is wonderful and I'm sure I'm not the only one who is dreaming of a trip to Italy today!


For more from Kyle Dine, please visit


(c) 2014


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(c) 2014 Gina Clowes    


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