Managing Food Allergies While on Vacation
This article has been reviewed by Thanai Pongdee, MD, FAAAAI
Whether it’s a weekend get-away or a trip to Europe, vacations are a chance to relax and create memories. But for families with food allergies, a relaxing break can become a harrowing adventure.
Studies have shown that families with a food allergic child often limit the number of vacations they take. Many don’t travel outside the country and others avoid certain types of transportation, such as planes and boats.
But it isn’t necessarily a fear of the unknown that keeps these families close to home. Some say that accessing medical care is the reason they don’t venture too far.
Follow these steps to avoid reactions:
• If you’re traveling by airplane, always hand-carry your medications – especially your autoinjectable epinephrine. Do not put medications in checked luggage.
• Anticipate problems and hidden allergens. Does your host know about your child’s food allergies? Does the airline you’re flying serve peanuts as a snack?
• Know who to call in the area you’re visiting if you have an emergency. Keep your allergist’s phone number or other emergency contact information on-hand.
If you’re traveling to a foreign country, consider carrying a card that explains in the local language what foods you can’t eat. Show this to your server, and if possible the chef, at any restaurant you visit. You can also research regional cuisines in order to get an idea of the dishes you’ll want to avoid. If possible, learn the word for your allergy in the language of the country you’re visiting.
Places families with food allergies are least likely to visit:
• Beach resorts in foreign countries