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The Travel Section

Have Kitchen, Will Hit Slopes

With allergies, preparation is needed to make sure things don’t go downhill on that great skiing trip.

“Let’s ski the Peanut Trail again,” exclaimed my daughter Taya, as we rode up the chairlift at Silver Star resort in British Columbia. I found the name of her favorite run ironic – since she is allergic to peanuts as well as tree nuts, sesame, kiwi and soy.

The Peanut Trail is a narrow run through the trees with lots of jumps, but fortunately no real peanuts on it. This is exactly the kind of run that 8-year-old Taya and her sister Kieryn, 10, love to ski.

My wife Keely prefers the wide, groomed, cruising runs which Silver Star has lots of, but she was not getting to ski them much since the kids kept insisting on that Peanut Trail.

Ski vacations are great fun for families, and I recommend them as well-suited to people with allergies or gluten intolerance. Condos and chalets with full kitchens are common at most resorts, so you can make your own safe meals.

There are ski resorts within driving distance of most major cities in Canada and the northern U.S. Many resorts now have other activities for après ski, and to keep non-skiers entertained as well.

Our top priority when booking a ski vacation is to always find a place that has ski-in and ski-out access to accommodations. This is a huge advantage with allergies because you can go back to your condo for lunch and snacks and not have to eat at a restaurant. It also means you can start late or stop early and not have to worry about driving or finding a place to meet.

Check the location out carefully though, some places that advertise ski-in, ski-out may be a long walk for little children carrying skis (and even longer for adults trying to carry small children and skis).

Another thing to consider is finding a skiing area that suits your group. Ideally that means a good mix of runs for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers.  Also consider whether non-skiing activities like a swimming pool or shopping are important to your group. A large resort may have a greater variety of runs and après ski activities to appeal to the whole family.

We tend to prefer mid-sized resorts over the largest resorts because the condos are usually closer to the runs and less expensive. After skiing all day, we’re usually content to relax in our condo and don’t use a lot of après ski activities like spa services or fancy restaurants.

When signing up your allergic child into ski lessons, make sure that you clearly communicate the allergies to the instructor and give the child an epinephrine auto-injector to wear inside his or her ski clothes (so it does not freeze). Find out if they stop for a snack during the lesson, and provide your own snack if necessary. If it’s an all-day program, we bring our daughter with allergies back to the condo for lunch.

Another option is to pack a lunch for your child, but be sure to give clear directions to the instructor about how to manage your child’s allergies.

Check where the closest hospital is to the ski hill before you go. All resorts have on-site first aid, but some are more isolated and a long drive from a major city. We try to ensure that we are within a one-hour drive of a hospital.

Many ski resorts are also good destinations for a vacation outside of ski season. It’s common to find them open year-round with golfing, swimming, hiking and biking in the off-season, when prices are lower. Because condos are popular at ski resorts, it’s easy to find a place with a kitchen.

Skiing is one of the few sports that you can do as a family. Unlike soccer or hockey, you actually ski with your children instead of just watching them. In fact, my kids and I often go with my 86-year-old father – he still loves to ski. There is nothing like spending quality time skiing with your kids on a sunny spring day. But watch out, my kids are already skiing faster than their mother and grandfather. It won’t be long before I can’t keep up either.

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.