Traveling with food allergies
Unfortunately, you can not leave your allergies at home while traveling ... however, you can follow these tips to prevent them from ruining your plans and traveling safely:
Wash your hands before each meal, ideally with soap and water, or with a hand sanitizer. You can use wet wipes to clean the surface where you plan to eat.
If you are unsure of the ingredients in a meal, avoid eating it.
Bring your own utensils with you.
Plan to bring safe food and beverages with you: you can prepare snacks in advance or bring food that is harder to find during your trip.
You can book a hotel room with a kitchenette or use the kitchen of a hostel to prepare your own meals. Do not forget to clean the equipment thoroughly before using it!
AT THE RESTAURANT
Notify your waiter of your allergy. Ask them about the ingredients used in the dish you want to order and how your dish will be prepared. If in doubt, do not hesitate to ask to speak to the chef.
Never underestimate the severity of your allergy! If you have doubts about a dish, do not hesitate to return it.
Target meal times outside of peak hours if possible: a less busy meal period will allow kitchen staff to be more attentive when preparing your meal.
Avoid buffets: they pose a risk of cross-contamination of food.
Also, think about sources of cross-contamination, for example products fried in the same fryer or cooked on the same grill with the same utensils.
Be informed before departure
Inform attendants about your allergies when you booked your hotel, flight, train... Ask them what their allergy policies are.
If you are leaving to a country with a foreign language, it might be necessary to learn some words or sentences to help you in some situations. For example: we suggest knowing how to pronounce the name of the foods you are allergic to, or be able to ask where is the nearest hospital. An allergy translation card is often useful.
Before traveling, locate the nearest hospitals of the regions you will visit and know how to contact the emergency if needed.
Make sure to have travel health insurance that covers medical consultation fees or hospital stays according to the type of allergie reaction you have.
ABOUT YOUR MEDICATION
Always have your epinephrine autoinjector (Epipen, Allerject, Twinject) on you. It is advisable to bring more than one with you in case of breakage, loss or multiple reactions. Remember to check the expiration date of your auto-injectors before departure and replace them if necessary. Explain how it works to your travel partners or a third party if you are traveling alone (eg flight attendant, tour guide, etc.).
Please note that you should bring your epinephrine auto-injectors with you on board the aircraft (do not leave them in your checked in luggage!). Keep the the pharmacy label on them.
You can request a visual inspection rather than X-rayed inspection since the effects of X-rays are unknown on the the médication. You may want to also bring a note from your physician explaining that your auto-injector contains epinephrine—a medicine for anaphylaxis.
Also bring your other medicines with you in sufficient quantity (inhaler in case of allergic asthma, antihistamine such as Benadryl, regular medication, etc.).
Wear a medical identification bracelet or pendant indicating your allergy (eg MedicAlert).
You can also get a card indicating your allergies. Here are some websites that offer this product and also offer the possibility of translating your allergies in different languages.
Have a nice trip !