Ease the stress of travelling with food allergies internationally
Do you suffer from allergies and find travelling to be a stressful experience? Whether you’re travelling domestically or internationally, allergies can pose a serious threat to your health and wellbeing.
Whilst avoiding known foods or products is the best approach, accidents happen, thus being prepared to manage any developing or serious situation is vital. But fear not, with the right planning and precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip.
In this article, we’ll share 8 important tips for travelling with allergies, from seeing your doctor before you travel to knowing where to seek medical assistance in case of an emergency. So, pack your bags and let’s get started!
Allergies occur when the immune system reacts, like a form of defense, against a food or product (allergen). Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some may even be life-threatening.
Common allergens include:
- dust mites
- pet hair
- food such as gluten, nuts, eggs and seafood.
When someone with an allergy comes into contact with the food or product they are allergic to, their body mounts an immune response. Cells in the body release histamine causing common reactions such as swelling, itching, breathing problems (asthma) and stomach upset. The most severe form of life threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. It occurs in a small number of people, with its severity requiring immediate treatment.
8 important tips for travelling with allergies
#1. See your doctor before you travel
See your doctor or 6-8 weeks before you travel. They’ll be able to assist with:
- Ensuring you have sufficient medications for your trip.
- Provide a doctor’s letter outlining your medical conditions and any required medications.
- Provide adrenaline auto-injectors. This is particularly important if travelling with food allergies internationally as auto-injectors may not be readily available in some countries.
#2. Ensure you’re up to date with immunisations
Allergic asthma can be triggered by a respiratory infection, so consider influenza vaccinations prior to departure along with any other shots recommended for your destination. Not sure what immunisations you need? Get in touch with our team to determine the best course of action.
#3. Bring your action plan for anaphylaxis
One of the biggest stressors when travelling with allergies is for those who may suffer anaphylaxis and require adrenaline. Be sure to take your Action Plan for Anaphylaxis and a Travel Plan for Anaphylaxis (see the link below). Both need to be completed by a doctor, and it’s important to have these with you at all time.
An example of these helpful resources can be downloaded:
#4. Prepare ahead when flying with food allergies
If you’re flying with food allergies it’s vital to inform the airline. Every airline is different, so find out what policies they have in place for passengers with allergies. It also helps to:
- Wipe down surfaces, tray-tables and arm rests at your designated seat on the plane.
- Stow your medication in your hand luggage or keep on your person, where it’s easily accessible.
- If traveling by yourself inform the flight attendant where you are storing your medications.
- Bring your own food onto the plane to eat instead of the food provided.
#5. Consider self-catered accommodation
Book accommodation ahead of time and inform hotel staff of your allergy. Accommodations with a kitchen may be a safer option for those travelling with allergies in order to stay in control of what you eat and prepare food yourself ‘at home’.
#6. Choose where you eat carefully
- If eating out, eat at reputable places.
- Advise your restaurant about your food allergy, preferably ahead of time, so they may be able to suggest suitable meals and provide a list of ingredients.
- Avoid buffets due to the high risk of cross-contamination.
#7. Organise translations if travelling with food allergies internationally
If travelling to a foreign country where you can’t speak the language, consider purchasing a travel card outlining your allergy. These cards help to communicate what you are allergic to in the native language. An example can be found at www.selectwisely.com
#8. Know where to seek medical assistance in case you need it
Research your destination and ensure you know where the nearest medical centre is and how to get there from your accommodation. If you have an anaphylactic reaction whilst away requiring the use of adrenaline, its advised to seek medical attention soon afterwards. World Travel Protection has a pre vetted network of providers all over the world, so calling us a a good place to start.
With plenty of planning, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip even when travelling with allergies.
Looking for more travel health and wellbeing advice? Find it here.
Travel safety begins before you take off – here’s how
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