Heading into peak travel season, we wanted to share some great tips aggregated some of the top resources in the food allergy community.
1) Remember the Auto-Injector!
This one is a no-brainer, but we're adding it anyway--and first--because it's that important! Always bring two or more with you...especially if you will be out of the country for an extended amount of time!
2) Let the Airlines Know About Your Allergy
One of the last things you want is to be on an airline while your allergen(s) are being served. The best solution to this issue is to get in touch with your airline ahead of time. Different airlines have different policies, however. Thankfully, Allergic Living assembled a comprehensive guide to 16 major airlines to get you started!
If you're looking for other flying-related advice from experienced travelers in the allergy community, The Nutty Traveler talks about other helpful strategies that even includes handling a fellow passenger who insists on eating food you're allergic to!
3) Prepare Translations for your Food Allergy
Effective translations of your allergy can make all the difference in the world. And we're not talking about Google Translate or a card that says "no peanuts"...we mean getting detailed translations that explain more-nuanced things like cross-contamination. One of the most widely used methods is a translation card. You can food allergy translation cards on our site, or check out other online resources like Equal Eats, depending on the language you're looking for.
4) Research the Destination & Food Culture Ahead of Time
Allergy Travels is one of the STRONGEST online communities, and is built to people with food allergies travel safely. The supportive group collectively answers questions from other members based on their past travel experiences, and the topics range from understanding different food cultures, locating safe hotels, or even deciding where to travel in the first place!
5) Translated Medical Alert Gear
One of the smartest decisions I made before leaving to live and work in Taiwan for nine months was ordering a translated medical I.D. bracelet. Medical I.D.'s are a simple-yet-effective way to communicate your condition in an emergency. If you're looking for the right term to use, try searching our database.
6) Bring Safe-to-Eat Food to the Airport
One common tip you'll hear from experienced travelers, like Allie Bahn (AKA Miss Allergic Reactor), is to bring safe-to-eat food to the airport. I'd say this goes double if you're going to a different country. In Thailand, for example, even the Burger King in the airport used peanuts!
Looking for good snack ideas? Check out the Allergy Store!
7) Ask for Help Preparing Ahead of Time
There's a number of resources available to help navigate a foreign country. In my personal travels, I was able to find support from people that lived in countries I was going to that educated me about different foods, helped me translate, and even stayed with me at the hospital when I had a severe allergic reaction!
I was lucky enough to have amazing coworkers in Taiwan, and reached out to Kavee Suwdjit, (whom I met through the Allergy Travels group) before going to Thailand. If you don't have connections in the place you are going, or are looking for advice about where to travel, you can also try reaching out to resources like Food Allergy Concierge, that help with the planning process.
8) Have an Emergency Plan
Hopefully, if you take the time to plan your trip out ahead of time, you'll have a safe, worry-free trip! Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans can go wrong, human error can occur, and so on. Should something happen, it's much better to have a response set up BEFORE something goes wrong. Finding where hospitals are ahead of time, thinking about how you'd ask a bystander and/or medical staff for help, and knowing how you'd be able to get transport to a facility are good examples of items to address when you arrive at your new destination.
Our team is dedicated to helping people with food allergies navigate during a crisis (at home or in a foreign country), and developed the AssureTech Mobile App. In addition to translating food allergies, the App also displays a translated "help" message, instructions for administering an EpiPen, locates the nearest hospital(s), and even calls emergency transport.
If you'd like to try the free-to-download mobile app, you can find it on both major app stores!