Summer Travel & Food Allergies
Planning a trip can be stressful for anyone. But people with food allergies may feel particularly anxious about leaving their familiar home environments. It's easy to understand why: Not only do people have to stay safe in a new place, but they also have to handle any social concerns that arise, like asking for special accommodations, avoiding certain activities or places, or explaining their dietary restrictions.
Planning ahead can help you feel less anxious about what could go wrong and more excited about the adventure ahead. Choose where to go: For people with food allergies, deciding on a destination might take some extra thought. For example, if you have a peanut allergy, some places, like a remote village in Thailand, may not be the best option.
It's wise to discuss travel options with your doctor before making any final decisions. Discuss travel plans ahead of time with your allergist to be sure you have all the medicines you need, from antihistamines and inhalers to epinephrine injectors. Don't plan to rely on local pharmacies for your prescriptions — medications may not be the same overseas. Instead, take your meds with you.
There are tools available to help you manage communicating your allergies in foreign languages. Select Wisely offers translation cards in over 65 languages that you can keep in your wallet and refer to when you are ordering foods in unfamiliar territory. Make sure these cards are with you at all times. mPassport® offers you the ability to translate phrases to allow you to communicate your allergies in many different languages.
If you can, bring enough safe food to see you through at least the beginning of your trip. Of course, how much you bring will depend on where you're going and how long you'll be traveling. If you're in an area where you cannot easily purchase or order allergen-free food, stock up on your food supply. If you're someplace where you can buy and prepare what you need, pack less. If you're traveling internationally, you may not be able to read labels at local grocery stores. Again, it's best to bring a sizeable supply of safe food with you.
Staying alert, taking precautions, and carrying meds are just part of normal life for someone who has a food allergy. Once you've done it once or twice, traveling with food allergies feels perfectly routine also. You feel less like you're "traveling with food allergies" and more like you're simply "traveling." (For many, having environmental allergies is also of concern when traveling. When staying in hotels, make sure to ask for non-smoking rooms and non-feather bedding.)
If you have any questions about how to manage your food allergies, or if you are not sure what steps you should be taking to keep allergies from disrupting your summer travel plans, please let us know. We are here to help keep you healthy and allergy free, all summer long.