Kyle has never let his multiple allergies hold him back from adventures. Here he tells us about how he stayed safe on a ski trip in Europe.
Growing up in Canada, going on winter ski trips was a right of passage but I always dreamed of snowboarding in the Alps of Europe. I finally got my chance two years ago on a trip to Nassfeld in Austria.
My wife and I booked a lodge that was 100 meters away from the gondola. It’s common for ski resorts to offer “half board”. This means that breakfast and dinner are provided, but not lunch. This makes sense since you are likely out on the slopes during the middle of the day.
Navigating the buffet with food allergies
Our chalet-style lodge had a big buffet style eating area that luckily was void of most of my allergens. I never saw any peanuts or nuts, which made me feel at ease. Seafood was limited too. The only issue I had was with my egg allergy with many breaded options. The first meal, I simply spoke with the chef who literally walked me through the entire buffet and helped me navigate what was safe for me and not. I was surprised by a few options that I likely would have avoided at first glance. The chef spoke excellent English and I felt like I definitely wasn’t his first guest with food allergies.
Good allergy labelling
I was also impressed with the allergy signage at the lodge. Every single food item had a sign beside it labeling the dish, and noting what common allergens were present (as per EU regulations). There was a legend posted in several places that charted the top 14 allergens, and the corresponding number to look for on the different food labels. I did find some things were over labeled in a few instances. For example, ketchup said it contained mustard, which the chef told me was due to the chance of cross-contamination. I appreciated the transparency, and it gave me a starting point to inquire about the true risk of mustard somehow getting into the ketchup dispenser!
Keeping epinephrine warm
After breakfast each day, we hit the slopes with a full stomach. By midday, many people stop at the several mountain huts scattered throughout the hills. It’s a great time to take off your board/skis and warm up by a fire with a hot drink. I mostly stuck to easy food such as French fries that I found to be safe. I also brought safe snack bars from home that I could munch on during a break on the slopes.
I kept my epinephrine on me at all times while snowboarding. Snowboard jackets are notorious for having many pockets within. I kept mine in one that was snug against my chest in order to keep warm, and avoid and harsh impact in the case I fell (luckily I didn’t!).
Although there is always a level of uncertainty until the moment you arrive, the more you prep in advance, the less surprises and tricky situations you’ll encounter during your trip. Winter trips with allergies are possible and a lot of fun! After all, winters go by quicker when you embrace the season!