Tips for Traveling with Food Allergies3 min read
When you have a food allergy, you inevitably learn how to identify which foods are and aren’t safe to consume. But when you leave the familiar environment of your home, it’s an entirely different ball game.
Nobody wants to rock the “hives all over the body” look when on vacation. So to ensure you have the best and safest trip possible, here are some helpful tips for anyone traveling with food allergies.
Before Your Trip
- If traveling by air, read the airline’s allergy policy before booking your flight (you should be able to find this policy on their website). Try not to book with an airline that serves complimentary nut snacks during beverage service.
- Also research the allergy policy for the hotel or resort at which you plan to stay.
- Get recommendations for hotels, restaurants, and even airlines from your allergist or doctor. They may have other patients who traveled to the same place as well!
- Call ahead and inform both the airline and hotel of your allergy and any necessary accommodations you will need. They should notify staff, such as the flight crew, of your allergy.
- Call your doctor. You’ll want him to pen a letter confirming your food allergy so airport security doesn’t give you a hard time about bringing your epinephrine on board. Your doctor should also write an extra prescription for your epinephrine/adrenaline and other allergy medication in case you need more when you’re away.
- Pack your own nonperishable food or snacks for the flight and trip. Allergen free snack bars are a safe option.
- Pack your epinephrine/adrenaline and other allergy medications and carry them with you at all times.
- If traveling overseas, try to see if there are local doctors who specialize in treating your allergy. You should also know where the closest hospital is located.
- Learn the generic and brand names for your medication in the local language of the country you’ll be staying in.
- Download the mPassport app, which will help you navigate the healthcare system in your destination country.
During Your Trip
- At the airport, ask if you can board early to inspect and clean your seating area. You may want to wipe down the seat and food tray to prevent contact with food particles.
- Don’t assume the “safe” foods at home are also safe to consume in other countries. The same goes for pre-packed items, such as snack bars. They may be manufactured with unsafe ingredients or in factories that contain allergens, such as tree nuts.
- Carry cards with words of items you’re allergic to in your native language and in the local language. This will help you better communicate when you’re traveling.
- Even if you’re visiting a place that you considered “safe” during a previous trip, ask about how they prepare their meals since things might have changed.
- Never take a risk with food. Always ask about the ingredients first, and if you’re not sure, opt for a different dish or go for one of your back-up snack bars.
Photo from Respro (Food Safety Professionals).