As I look back at 2018, I am humbled by how the year unfolded for Allergic Traveler.
To begin with, 2018 was Allergic Traveler’s best year to date. This is clearly because of you – my supporters, my food allergy friends, my food allergy parents and the food allergy community. We shipped more chef cards to more states and more countries than ever before. Hello Australia!
Firsts in 2018
We had many firsts in 2018, which is awesome even after eight years in business! We visited various cities in the US for the first time, we met some awesome people in the food allergy community, and we found some great safe products from the allergy world.
New Friends, New Cities
We were part of the Gluten Free & Allergy Free Wellness Events in Knoxville and Jacksonville. This show caters to the food allergy community. It is primarily in the south east. We frequently present at their shows in North Carolina, but this year was the first time we attended their show in Knoxville, TN and Jacksonville, FL. Every time we present at these shows, we make new friends traveling similar paths to ours. These friends become allies going through the same battle as this Allergic Traveler. We get to share stories, trade secrets and lean on each for support.
Another new city for us was Richmond, VA. We attended the Gluten Free & Food Allergy Fest. We presented on traveling with food allergies and we got to hang out with the blogger team. A few of my few favorite bloggers are Gluten Free Chelsea, Fabulously Gfree and Leaves of Kale. Check them out on Instagram.
The show was a two-day affair which allowed us to meet even more people and make more food allergy friends! The other advantage to this show was that it was down town allowing us to walk to local restaurants that could accommodate my dietary restrictions, like Juleps or Chez Foushee.
The best part of these new friendships is that I know I can reach out to any of them. I value their opinion on the latest and greatest food allergy products or testing that is being done in our community.
Food Allergy Products
Speaking of safe allergy friendly products, I found a few this year that were total game changers for me. Most of these products I found at the allergy shows, but not all. Please keep in mind that there are thousands of products in the gluten free or allergy free world. Each company is doing their best to create safe products for us. You know the big guys like Enjoy Life, Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet, Schar, etc. But there are some smaller size businesses that are just trying to get a piece of the action that truly caught my attention this year.
Healing Salve by Rainwater Farm. I suffer with eczema. I have for many years. Most of the time my flair ups stem from my diet. As I have many food allergies (eggs, nuts, mushrooms, garlic, soy, sesame, chicken, pork, etc.), I need to play detective every time I get a breakout to uncover the culprit. In the meantime, my skin burns, itches, oozes, and bleeds. It is unpleasant to say the least. Healing Salve provides a cool sensation with no burn. It immediately calms the irritation, allowing it to heal. You need this product in your life!
Safely Delicious produces an allergy friendly snack. It is free of the top 8 food allergens. It is also free of cholesterol, artificial colors and preservatives. What I especially like about this snack is that it is not cakey or heavy. In fact, I loved this product so much that I asked if they would join me by sponsoring Allergic Traveler at a few of the food allergy shows. The reception was well received and Safely Delicious continues to expand into more and more grocery stores. Now I need to patiently wait for them to come to North Carolina!
Another product that I found to be a game changer was Vitamin E Oil by Bevko. Aside from having eczema, I also have dry skin. It is very hard for me to find products that will keep my face moisturized. This one does though! It is gentle, and it feels therapeutic. Thanks to this product I am no longer embarrassed while out in public.
Of course, none of these products, places or new friendships would be possible without my existing strong core of food allergy advocates making a difference in the community.
Nikki Everett – fighting hard to bring more awareness to the outside world with regards to gluten free products. She successfully runs the Living Free Expos and year over year the attendance and products for her shows increase.
Jen Cuevas – spends hours in the kitchen developing grain free, gluten free and soy free product. This is not an easy feat. And yet her products are divine. She even has grain free and gluten free hosts for communion. How many companies offer that? Her company is The Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet.
Tracy Bush with Nutrimom – Tracy’s outlook is strong and loud. She is always fighting the good fight for the food allergy community. Currently she is fighting to make the Big Bar a reality (by Enjoy Life). Ask her, its true!
Personally, I am proud of two accomplishments from 2018. Both were related to the food allergy world and the travel community.
The first was becoming a US citizen. This was a big deal to me. I studied. I went through all the physical tests, the background tests, and was eventually sworn in. It was no easy feat, but I am so glad I did this. With my new found citizenship, I had to apply for an American passport. That left this Allergic Traveler grounded until the passport came in. It felt like an eternity! However, during this time, I got a call from the Jimmy Kimmel show. They saw one of my posts on IG and wanted to discuss my citizenship. It was very humbling.
My next accomplishment was my nomination by FARE. It was an award for those businesses making a difference in the food allergy community. (See previous blog post about the award) I did not end up winning, that honor goes to Susie Hultquist of Spokin. And you know what – she completely deserves it! Of course, I wanted to win, but there is always next year. This too was very humbling for me.
Tell us – what happened to you in 2018?? Did you find any new must-have allergy products? Did you make any new friends that just get you and your battle?
Cheers to all of you for your support. I hope 2019 is even better for all of us.