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Vacations = Stress

April 2, 2010

Vacations stress me out.  Sounds ridiculous, right?  But while everyone else looks forward to the positive aspects of vacation – the relaxing, the sightseeing, the shopping – I immediately start to worry about the negative ones as soon as our tickets are booked. 

What can I say?  I am a professional worrier.

If we are going on a vacation with Maya, I dread the following:

  1. The increased possibility of getting vomited on due to her air sickness.
  2. The crocodile tears and the “my ears hurt” complaints during the ascent and descent portions of the flight.  I’m not heartless, I just know her complaining stems from wanting the loads of M&M’s I have on hand to keep her distracted.
  3. Her ugly but necessary Dora “pullage.”  My daughter has coined a new term because she didn’t like the word luggage.
  4. Lugging her booster seat, my carry on, my purse, and our coats (if applicable) through interminable airport terminals and germ-ridden security lines.
  5. The airplane bathroom situation.  Trying not to breathe or touch anything in a tiny closet full of bacteria is challenging enough.  Trying to fit myself and Maya and still not touch anything or breathe?  Near impossible.  During a trip to Turks and Caicos last year, I assigned Ali this wonderful task.  I think he is still recovering.

If Maya is not tagging along and I am selfishly able to focus on my own problems, I dread the following:

  1. The food situation.

I am excited that Ali and I are going on a Maya-less vacation to Japan and Singapore later this month, but I am equally nervous about how I’m going to successfully handle all of my food allergies.  Since I am now down to about 10 things I can eat that don’t bother my stomach, and even those 10 things are touch and go, I have no idea what I’m going to do.  Especially in Tokyo where people don’t really speak English.  I picture myself in a restaurant trying to ask for a meat-free, soy-free, gluten-free, egg-free (that’s my latest elimination), dairy-free meal, and then I picture the irritation and puzzlement that will surely come next.

I tell myself that I need to just roll with it.  That I need to stop stressing about something 2 weeks in advance because that clearly isn’t going to help anything.  I decided that my plan is to just eat what comes and deal with the pain, if any.  Someone told me that often times gluten-free people can eat bread in other parts of the world because the gluten concentration is less.  I’m holding on to this hope more than you can imagine.

Thank you Kim and Sophia for your great recommendations.  Does anyone else have suggestions of things to see and do in  Tokyo,  Singapore, and possibly Kuala Lumpur?  As you can imagine, accommodating restaurants recommendations are especially welcome!

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2010 7:19 pm

    Oh my goodness you’ve eliminated eggs? Were they bothering your stomach too? Sad day, I know that was one of your favorite meals – eggs and veggies.

    I cannot give you any advice on your travels, but I do think it sounds amazing! Just take some snacks!

  2. April 2, 2010 8:05 pm

    Hi from New Orleans! I told myself I’d just browse and not comment as I’m supposed to be sleeping to get up early for breakfast, but I couldn’t resist. Traveling is stressful for me too, mostly because I’m a stickler for everything “going right” and things do “go wrong” on trips… always. Food is tricky for me too as I’m not totally over my preferences, as I like to call them. I’m not exactly Ms. Flexible, though I’ve gotten better. I think you’ll be fine on your trip. Since you’ll have such a short time in Japan, you can stay in the areas where English is more common. You can ask for specific things that way. Also, bring lots of snacks. I did and that helped a lot. Ok, off to bed! Oh, regarding the housekeeper post… I want one! And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I spend money on lots of “unnecessary” things these days. They’ve become necessary for me. I figure if it makes my life more enjoyable, it’s necessary. No need to feel guilt. And about the public vs private… It really depends on the area. Where you are, I would put my kid in public. Where I grew up, I did public school and was almost shot at by gang members. Then my parents put me in private school. It was safe, kind of sheltered. It was good for an anxious kid like me. Goodnight, for real this time!

  3. actorsdiet permalink
    April 2, 2010 8:20 pm

    so jealous you’re going to japan! even if you won’t be able to eat anything (but i’m sure you will)

  4. April 2, 2010 8:40 pm

    Congrats on the pending trip! Vacations for the mother are 100x more work than normal life, especially leading up to the trip and the first few days of it. Then you come home and do laundry and unpack. What a “vacation”. I feel your pain!

    Food allergies and foreign country. Whole foods, real foods, nothing prepackaged, fresh fruits and veggies, whatever they have there, that’s what you eat. Nothing out of a box or that you cant identify. That’s how i travel with my food allergies. good luck!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  5. April 2, 2010 9:48 pm

    Yay what a fun vacay! I went to Singapore, Hong Kong, and India in 2005. In Singapore, you MUST go to the Night Safari and botanical gardens. They are both amazing!! Also there are a bunch of cool temples and architecture there. I am sure you will be able to find a lot of delicious fresh fruits and veggies as well as some really really great Indian food. I can’t remember what the name of the hotel my family and I stayed at was, but there was a restaurant nearby that had some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had. I am going to ask my mom and then I’ll let you know!
    A lot of the restaurants also have English speaking staff. We were all vegetarians there (no eggs also), and I don’t recall having problems with eating out. 🙂 Don’t stress!!

  6. April 2, 2010 10:33 pm

    i can definitely relate to everything you said about the stresses of traveling with kids/Maya. sometimes i’m not even sure if it’s worth the trip if i’m going to be so stressed. we don’t travel anywhere far anymore without the help of my in-laws or my parents.

    i’ve never been to any of those places but when we went to HK or Vietnam we always used the tea they gave us (for drinking) to rinse our chopsticks, cups, and bowls before we used them to hopefully kill whatever germs we could with the hot temperature of the tea. i don’t think it was very helpful but that somehow gave me some peace of mind. and i stayed away from the street food although they looked super yummy. i’m so jealous that you’ll be going on a kid-free trip with your hubby soon. hope you have a super time despite your allergies.

  7. April 3, 2010 3:52 am

    Oh wow– that trip is going to be amazing!!!

    Can you bring your own snacks or bars at least? I’d be worried about that too, so I don’t blame you. I bet there will be a lot of just fruit and veggie dishes, hopefully.

  8. April 3, 2010 4:27 am

    That sounds like an awesome trip! I’m jealous. Too bad I don’t have any great food tips. But I like Anna’s suggestion: Bring some of your own stuff just in case.

  9. Silvia permalink
    April 3, 2010 4:41 am

    Do you eat rice? There are these amazing ‘sushi conveyor belt’ restaurants everywhere in Tokyo. Sit down, visually inspect what’s coming by your seat, and take the plate. They have all kinds of different sushi, miso soups, even desserts. Language problems solved! The luxury mall at Roppongi Hills has many beautiful international restaurants, a safe bet. Language is definitely a problem in Tokyo, only young people speak a bit of English.

  10. April 3, 2010 4:53 am

    so jealous of your trip! and vacations stress me out too so don’t feel silly at all

  11. April 3, 2010 5:49 am

    I’m going to Japan this year too! And I’m most dreading that long, long plane ride cooped up with my sweetie, who can get very, very excited but crash very very hard when exhausted. And unfortunately candy isn’t as good a distraction for a 21-year-old….

    You shouldn’t have to worry much about gluten in either Japan or Singapore (my mom’s home country!) because every meal is served with tons of rice. White rice, but safe rice. Soy and egg free though…that could be really tough. Fortunately, there’s always fish!

  12. April 3, 2010 6:20 am

    Oh wow, so I guess you’re almost vegan now… Minus the salmon… You certainly do have a challenge, but I’m sure you’ll be able to make it work. If I were you I’d pack less clothes and more snacks, haha! But those countries sound like such incredibly healthy countries with lots of rice and fish dishes, so hopefully you’ll be ok. Just try not to worry too much about it b/c you don’t want that anxiety to ruin your amazing time!! What an awesome opportunity!! 🙂

  13. Danielle permalink
    April 3, 2010 6:56 am

    I’m the same way- vacations are stressful! I don’t have any legitimate reasons though. I actually think it might be easier eating in those countries. They’re really not as much into dairy/wheat as we are 🙂

  14. April 3, 2010 7:46 am

    Oh wow, I can’t imagine going somewhere and worrying about what to eat when you have all of those issues!!! Wow. But I imagine going somewhere with just you and your husband will be NICE!

  15. fitandfortysomething permalink
    April 3, 2010 8:52 am

    try not to stress to much…..i am sure you will find something to eat and yes i have heard food from other countries make us feel a bit differently so hopefully that will be the case for you.
    just focus on the positive becasue how lucky you are to go!

  16. Leah permalink
    April 3, 2010 9:13 am

    Oh no!! Eggs too? But you love eggs!!
    Maybe if you cut them out for awhile you can re-introduce them in small amounts. That seems to work for me, and my allergy to eggs is as severe as they can get.

    Don’t worry, I find vacations stressful too. I’d far rather just stay home.

  17. April 3, 2010 10:21 am

    Awww…no eggs? 😦 I’m jealous you’re going to Japan. Can I stow away in your luggage? hehehe… I’m pretty tiny. I once stuffed myself in a small storage box. lol.

  18. April 3, 2010 1:51 pm

    Ameena, I am so jealous of your trip! I’ve never been so I don’t have a ton of suggestions. I’m always wanted to go there though. I bet it will be a blast.

  19. April 3, 2010 6:55 pm

    I totally understand about vacation stress — the planning, packing and undertaking are a LOT of work but it definitely all pays off in the end. Planning ahead takes a lot of stress off. Sorry, I’ve never been to those places but heard amazing things about all of them. You should have a blast! 😀

  20. April 4, 2010 1:13 am

    I’ve been wondering about your food situation, too…but Singapore has a lot of seafood…you can eat that, right? And there are many rice-based dishes, which I’m sure you can eat as well…Also, DO try all their lovely tropical fruits…

    There is no point in worrying beforehand, Ameena. Just go with the flow. Don’t fret beforehand, it will only make your allergies worse…Just know that you definitely will not starve to death…and you’re not gonna go hungry, either. Btw, is there any sort of medication that can help you out temporarily? My friend has a gluten problem, but she still eats gluten, cheese sometimes but she’ll take this pill that helps her digest…Perhaps you can get a prescription just in case?

    Oh, and one thing you HAVE to try: otah-otah!! It’s a banana-leaf wrapped fish paste that has been BBQ-ed, and SO good!

  21. April 4, 2010 2:16 am

    Is there any way you could learn some of the food language before you go? That way, you would know how to spot out the good and bad foods on a menu. Either way, I think you will find it easier than you think. When I went to the UK two years ago, I ate a bunch of stuff that normally makes me sick, and I was totally fine. Our stomachs go into happy mode on vaca I think… it takes a lot to mess them up. 🙂

  22. April 4, 2010 4:58 am

    vacations stress me out to until i can wrap my brain around all the little thing i’m stressing about and put them to rest.
    travelling with kids is always a bit of a wild card. i have been thrown up on, you name it! if possible, you may want to give maya a dum-dum lollipop for take-off and landing or if you trust her with gum, that works too for the ear-popping.
    as for the food, i’m sure it will end up working out fine. bring whatever you can of your own for snacks and i’m sure the main meals will work out.

  23. April 4, 2010 5:28 am

    Wow, that sounds like a fantastic vacation! I like to pack breakfasts and snacks with me and then buy lunch and dinner out…that might be helpful for you. I’m hoping it’s a stress-free (or as close to stress-free as possible) vacay for you!

  24. Susan permalink
    April 4, 2010 5:55 am

    I’m sorry you’re stressed about your trip, but it’s completely understandable given your allergies!

    Like some commenters said before, maybe pack a few options that you know work for you. I bet after the first couple of days of investigating the situation you will be able to find other things that fit your diet as well. I’ve heard the food is actually pretty diverse over there, so I think that will work in your favor!

  25. April 4, 2010 6:46 am

    Well, you are totally right…I stress in advance to and it has to stop…like my roommates are having family over for “easter dinner” tonight, and i am already trying to figure out how the hell i navigate the kitchen…too many cooks in the kitchen peeves me off !!
    Anyhoo…i think if i were a mother, every moment would be a stress…just relax and go with it…the less anxious u r, the better time u will have.
    holy crap, if i had a vacation planned i would be estatic! maybe in another , oh 40 years, 🙂

  26. April 4, 2010 8:30 am

    im so sorry to hear about all your allergies…i had no idea. But, I do agree with what you said about stressing out about it. stressing doesnt help anything, and usually it just makes things worse.

  27. eatspinlive permalink
    April 4, 2010 2:57 pm

    Thank you for stopping by my blog! This looks like an amazing time! And the food looks all so very delicious 🙂

  28. April 4, 2010 4:15 pm

    I always love the stories you blog about motherhood! 🙂 I really look forward to being a mom someday, and when you post about something that has never occurred to me before… it makes me laugh out loud! Like traveling woes. I’m sure that can’t be easy.
    Your vacation sounds fabulous! I look forward to photos. I just got home from eating my way across Europe, 7 pounds later.. I don’t envy your food dilemma. 😦 I hope you enjoy the food abroad. I like to pack oatmeal and almonds when I travel. Then I raid the open-air markets frequently. Yummm.

  29. Saeeda permalink
    April 5, 2010 1:52 pm

    Hi Ameena! It is Saeeda, Ali’s friend from UCLA? I came across your blog through LinkedIn as I was perusing jobs. Hope you, Ali & Maya are well. Congrats on your blog, I hope to read more entries soon.

    Faisal and I went to China, Japan and Malaysia in 2007 before our daughter was born. You will have an amazing time. I’ll be honest, though, conveying dietary restrictions to restaurant staff in Japan will be near impossible. Even in the “touristy” areas, we found it difficult to even ask simple questions about our order(s). I eat only halal, so I did find Japan somewhat challenging but manageable due to a few things:
    a- Seafood is great in Japan. There are these Japanese tapas restaurants called Izakaya where you can find many seafood dishes. Also, sushi/sashimi places are everywhere
    b- Tofu is also very easy to find. Can you eat that? In fact, a “must-do” in Kyoto are these multi-course tofu meals where each course is made from tofu(including dessert). Faisal found this almost intolerable(you know typical desi men), but I thought it was great
    c- Plastic food models! These are in many, many restaurant windows that have these ( as in most of Asia) so that you can “window shop” for your food. No English descriptions usually, but I still found it helpful in order to narrow down from the mostly meat places.

    You will have no issues in Singapore & Malaysia – everyone speaks English and though you may not be able to have nasi lamak (their chicken curry), there are plenty of other vegetarian options in dining. Great seafood there as well.

    As for places to see, here is a short list, but email me if you have any other q’s:
    Japan – Tokyo National Museum, Takashimaya, Harajuku, Royal Palace, Meiji Shrine. Kyoto – any of the amazing temples, we really loved
    Kyoto

    Malaysia – KL – Islamic Arts Museum(honestly, I did not expect much but I was totally amazed, it was such a professional, insightful museum), Nat’l Mosque, Petronas Towers. If you have a short time there, just take one of the bus tours, it is easier. We also went to Langkawi, Malaysia which is amazing!! One of my favorite places out of all of our travels.

    Hope this helps!

  30. April 7, 2010 4:26 pm

    Man I wish I was on vacation. After a few nice days it is supposed to snow again!!! Arrgghhh, when will it end 😦

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