If you have a food allergy or intolerance, travelling to another part of the world where you may be more at risk of anaphylaxis, skin irritation or swelling can be a daunting thought. For many, preparing to travel can be a stressful process and in some cases, non-existent; however it is in fact possible to travel abroad if you have a food allergy if you are careful and take some precautions.
Cakes on a Plane?
Notify your airline before you travel and let them know of your allergy or intolerance. Ask what their food procedures are, for example if you have a nut allergy, do they serve bags of peanuts? Usually the airline staff members are very accommodating and in certain situations (such as very severe allergies) they are more than happy to put out an announcement to make other customer's aware. Often they will go to great lengths to not serve products containing your allergen (nuts in chocolate bars for example) allowing you to travel safely and stress-free. If your allergy is severe, carry hand wipes to use on your seating area before you take off, but always carry your medication with you just in case you still need to use it.
If you need medication with you at all times including on the plane, such as Epi-pens or antihistamines, obtain a written Doctor's note to confirm this. Your medication should be stored in your hand luggage or on your person (not in your hold luggage!). Always carry enough medication with you for the entire duration of your trip including spares and prescriptions.
With regards to eating, find out where you can eat beforehand and ask the restaurants directly if they can advise you of items on the menu you can eat. When you arrive at the restaurant, it is a good idea to remind them about your previous communication and that you have an allergy or intolerance. Ask to speak directly to the restaurants chef - don't rely on the waiter or waitress to pass the information on for you correctly.
Print out the words for your allergies in the language of the country you're visiting. If you're not confident in your pronunciation, consider printing a few travel-sized cards with this information on which can then be given directly to the chef preparing your food. Include helpful phrases such as "œI'm allergic to...", "œNo dairy, nuts, wheat, etc", and "œPlease do not cross-contaminate".
If you are worried about eating out, consider staying in self-catered hotel or hostel and prepare your own meals. Most hostels will have a kitchen and the ability to store your own food items there safely. If you are bringing your own food to store at your accommodation from home, check with your airline provider as to what is, and isn't allowed on the plane (such as meats, dairy and whether the food has to be strictly sealed or not); and remember this will need to clear customs, so check out the rules beforehand. If you are using any kitchen utensils, equipment or appliances, just make sure that you clean them thoroughly before use to eliminate any remaining food traces.
If you found these tips and advice to be helpful, then please spread the world to others who have food allergies or intolerance. You never know, it could help them too!
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