Well, my first soy free vacation is over, and although I had a few tell-tale “soy rashes” on my skin, I am happy to say that I did not have any major allergic reactions. We traveled by car for a week-long visit to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, which is about a 4.5 hour drive from home.
I have to admit that I was very nervous, because anyone with a soy allergy knows how difficult and dangerous it is to travel. Fortunately, a Whole Foods had opened literally days before we arrived, so that eased my stress a good bit.
The other challenge with our trip was that this was a family vacation, and food has always been a big part of that. In years’ past, my husband and I would always join my parents for at least one big meal out a day. I knew that if I ate out every day, I would not only surely run into some soy, but I would also be very nervous and basically turn what should be a relaxing vacation into a stressful vacation. It was more difficult that you would think to avoid eating out, because there were a lot of emotional attachments to this tradition on behalf of my family that had to be sorted out.
We opted to only eat out a couple of times at restaurants that had successfully served me in the past. I ate my usual garden salad and baked potato at Wendy’s. Then, at Olive Garden, I opted for a salad with no dressing or croutons and added olive oil and lemon to the salad (no breadsticks of course.) Then, I ordered the baked shrimp parmesan which was listed as soy free on their allergen menu. There was also a Panera and Mellow Mushroom, which I have successfully used back home.
Otherwise, we managed to eat most of our meals without a lot of cleanup or fuss. We decided for this trip we would eat from paper plates, and we took a large cooler with us on the trip that included chickpeas and other items we would need. For breakfast, I had soy free cereal with rice milk, fruit, nuts and seeds for breakfast OR I had Erewhon graham crackers with almond butter, banana, and some raw pumpkin seeds. For our other meals, we rotated between grilled cheese sandwiches, Amy’s meals (offers some soy free options), Amy’s pizzas, hummus with veggies and chips, and often utilized the salad bar at Whole Foods for our veggies and for meals.
For dessert, I either made banana ice cream, or I visited Rita’s, which has several soy free custard and ice options.
I also brought all of my own hand soap, toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, beach chairs and sheets. I immediately washed all of the towels provided by the resort and changed the sheets to my sheets. I have to admit that it actually felt really good to sleep on my own sheets and use my own products, so it was well worth packing them. I also always kept a little hand soap in my purse for when we were not at our resort.
I did get a couple of minor rashes on my arm. We think one of them could have been from the couch in the living room which was likely laden with sunscreen from prior uses. I placed a towel over the couch and that seemed to help. The other reaction stemmed from a lady at Whole Foods who was cleaning a table behind me and sprayed my arm with her cleaner. The reaction was thankfully gone fairly quickly.
Overall, my first vacation was a success, and hopefully that will give me more confidence to travel in the future.
Calling All Soyvivors: Do you have other great travel tips?