Adventuring with Challenges

Message summary: To make an adventure truly enjoyable, pre-planning is a must for those who have to watch what they eat and drink.

A day doesn’t go by when you don’t hear about someone who has a physical condition that limits what he or she can do or eat. Adventuring adds a new level of challenge when we have to consider and make allowance for this.  Having to worry about … whether an area or attraction has adequate handicap parking and is wheel-chair-friendly, whether a place or meal is celiac friendly (a.k.a. gluten-free), whether the food has a tree nuts or peanuts in it, whether the sugar level of the food or drink is too high (picturing kids bouncing off of any surface), whether foods have artificial dyes in it (repeat bouncing off walls scenario), or whether there’s some other reaction for something we haven’t thought to test for yet (ie., insect bites and stings) … can cause a family to become anxious as soon as they step out of the door.

It also means a lot of pre-planning effort must be spent in bringing the right food, snacks and drinks for attractions and facilities that do not consider these issues. And for the serious reactions, making sure the expensive but super essential medications are ready and handy “just in case.”

In hindsight, there was a time when I did not consider the needs of others when going to a restaurant or grocery store, and adding yet-another-app (“yap”?) to my smartphone was the antithesis of making my life more productive. Now, however, I am becoming aware I had not even thought of these situations because I did not have to deal with them. It is a sobering thought and an opening of eyes to become conscious of the challenges others may face as they set foot out of their doors.

So, here are a few heart-felt thanks:

  • For the smartphone app developers who have created product scanners and restaurant locators for those who mustwatch what and where they eat, “Thank you.”
  • For the grocery and warehouse stores that carry and clearly mark or group food products to accommodate food allergy requirements, “Thank you.”
  • For the restaurants and bakeries that are 100% celiac friendly and for those who have the training and provide separate gluten-free menus, “Thank you.”
  • For those who do not have to be concerned about a food or drink allergy but are aware of them and have an understanding of parents who must be cautious about the products, “Thank you.”
  • For those who see a handicap parking spot and choose to park further away so someone who really needs it can use it, and for those who use a handicap spot respectfully (ie, park as the signs indicate making allowance for van ramp requirements), “Thank you.”

And a couple of suggestions:

  • For the businesses that earmark handicap spots but do not ensure they are used respectfully (ie., do not enforce the penalties), you are sending out the unspoken message that you really do not care about your customers (always a bad PR move).
  • For the stores who do not clearly mark their products and the restaurants that say they are sensitive to food allergies but use the same equipment for all of their food prep…you are losing potential sales and future customers.

For those who are impacted by what they can do, eat or drink, it appears to be so easy to contemplate just staying home, in a “safe” and controlled environment, instead of wandering out on personal quests and challenges. Adventuring itself can be tough and adding thoughts of what is safe, edible, or risk-free will put some off from embracing any journey, but with a bit of pre-planning and an awareness of surroundings (always a good idea) the adventures will be easier to handle, generate tons of memory moments and provide a level of self-confidence you can only get by taking that first step.