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Preparing for our first trip to Hawaii and mainland US using dehydrated food

On shore

One of our subscribers has shared what they learnt from a recent trip to Hawaii and the US. They used dehydrated food as a convenient way to have a quick, cheap meal that was guaranteed to be free from their allergens. Dehydrated food provided a ‘little ray of sunshine’ into their allergy management, allowing them to enjoy their trip without the stress or anxiety of potential cross-contamination.

A little ray of sunshine – how to be at home away

My 17-year-old son, Rhys, has multiple food allergies (peanut, pine nut, walnut, pecan nut and sesame). This has meant that we limited our travel to Australia and New Zealand. When sesame became the ninth major food allergen recognised in the US, effective from 1 January 2023, I started planning a trip to California and Hawaii for the new year. Much to Rhys’s disbelief, in January we boarded a Jetstar flight to Honolulu and onwards to LA with Hawaiian Airlines.

When it comes to allergy management, I like to be prepared. I used all the valuable information and tips on the A&AA website to help me plan, and borrowed a trick from bushwalking (and the NASA space program). 

I bought a food dehydrator and made my own dehydrated meals using fresh food and dried spices. The idea was to bring home-cooked food in dehydrated form in vacuum-sealed pouches and rehydrate it with boiled water in a 470 mL Thermos Food Jar. No special skills are involved. Anyone can do it. The food does not need to be kept refrigerated, is light to carry, and there are no cross-contamination issues. I gave the meals a test run on my trip to the US.

Butter chicken in the dehydrator  spaghetti mince sauce after dehydration  30 meals vacuum sealed  vegan chilli in zip lock bags  470 mL Thermos Food Jar the spoon fits in the lid  dehydrated lamb ragu pasta in a Thermos Food Jar before hot water is added  rehydrated fried rice  rehydrated pasta with chicken ham peas mushrooms and tomatoes  eating on the plane straight from the Thermos Food Jar
To find out what was allowed into the US, I went to the US Customs and Border Protection website. I packed about 5 kg of dehydrated meals and 15 packets of ALDI wraps.

The dehydrated food was a convenient way to have a quick, cheap meal and cut down on shopping time. We found that some theme parks in California (e.g. SeaWorld) do not allow you to BYO food, but make an exception for those with food allergies. We could always find hot water on the planes and wherever we stayed.

We ate at Taco Bell, Chipotle, Jack in the Box, Denny’s and McDonald’s. All were reasonably priced and allergy-aware. We enjoyed a lot of Mexican food and salads, but avoided food trucks. In Hawaii, a popular dish is poke, which is raw cubed fish prepared in sesame oil. We had no problems ordering it at a restaurant without the sesame oil. We also bought food at Walmart, Safeway, Ralphs supermarkets and 7-Eleven in labelled packaging. US labelling formats can be found on the FARE website.

We had no anxiety about allergens whatsoever on this trip as we always had a safe choice. We went to some amazing places, including Mt Whitney, Death Valley, and the North Shore on Oahu, as well as the massive volcanoes and deep valleys on The Big Island. A highlight was seeing the Kilauea Volcano erupting.

The way I look at it, dehydrated food puts a little ray of sunshine into allergy management. It was ‘meant to be’, if you know what I mean.

Happy travels!

You can read more on how to dehydrate foods at

Content created March 2023


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