Whether for business or pleasure, travel can be a great way to make memories and see the world. However, for someone with food allergies, travel can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience, as it can be difficult to know where you can safely eat in a new town/country. In fact, people with food allergies are less likely to travel due to fear that they will have an allergic reaction on their trip. Yet, living with allergies doesn't have to prevent you from seeing the world. With the right planning and preparation, you can have a fun and relaxing trip without having to worry about your allergies. Here are a few tips to ensure your safety when traveling with food allergies.
Take Precautions When Flying
If you will be traveling to your destination by plane, it is important that you take certain precautions to ensure your safety during your journey. First, make sure you carry your epinephrine injector in your carry-on bag so it’s always accessible. This ensures that your epinephrine is on-hand should you have a reaction on your flight, and it also ensures that you don't lose your injector if the airline misplaces your luggage.
Before take-off, load up on safe and filling snacks in case you can’t eat what’s being served. On your flight, make sure that the flight attendant is aware of your allergies, and ask whether the snack/meal being served is safe for you to consume. (You may even be able to contact the airline ahead of time to learn what will be served and whether you’ll be able to eat the food provided.) When in doubt, decline the food and stick with your own snacks on board to ensure your safety.
Learn How to Explain Your Allergy in The Local Language
If you will be traveling to a country where you don't know the language, it's important that you at least learn key phrases that help you explain your allergies when ordering food out. Learning key vocabulary words like "peanuts", "tree nuts", "I am allergic to", and "does this contain . . .?", can help you avoid allergens on your trip. Take some time to practice pronunciation so that you are ready to explain your allergy when at a restaurant. You may find it helpful to write down certain phrases so that you don't forget them, and you could even show them to your server to help you better get your point across. Better yet, download an allergy card and print enough copies to give to servers wherever you will eat on your trip.
Plan Ahead in Case You Have a Reaction
Regardless of where you are traveling, it's important that you plan ahead and make sure you are prepared in case you have an allergic reaction on your trip. Make sure that you carry your EpiPen, allergy cream, medication, or whatever treatment you use while out and about on your trip. You should also have a copy of your allergy action plan from your doctor, if you have one. Carry extra allergy treatments to make sure that you are prepared no matter what happens, and find out how you can get an emergency refill if necessary while on your trip. If you will be in a foreign country, make sure you research how to get medical treatment if you have an allergic reaction. It is particularly important that you know the emergency phone number (equivalent to 911) for the country you will be in.
Research Your Dining Options
Before your trip, take some time to research your dining options. Not only will this give you a chance to read reviews and find the best restaurants at your destination, but you can also look up menus to see what restaurants offer allergy-friendly options. If you are staying in a hotel, you can also ask your concierge for advice on places you can eat given your allergies. They will have in-depth knowledge of the dining options in the area that can accommodate your allergies.
If you have space in your luggage, pack some non-perishable snacks (cereal/protein bars, dried fruit, pretzels, etc.) that you can bring while you’re out and about on your trip. That way, if hunger strikes you won’t feel panicked about where to find safe food, and you can take your time evaluating your options as you go.
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While traveling with allergies can feel overwhelming, taking the proper precautions and steps to prepare can ensure your trip is safe and enjoyable.