Whether it’s a week at Disney World or a trip to Europe, vacations are a chance to create memories and experience new things. But for families with food allergies, what should be a relaxing break can become a harrowing adventure.
A recent study has shown that families with a food allergic child often limit the number of vacations they take. Many don’t travel outside the United States 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 the availability of medical care is the reason they don’t venture too far from home.
What’s the secret to successful travel with food allergies? Planning ahead and taking precautions are key. This includes having your autoinjectable epinephrine on hand, requesting special accommodations from airlines and hotels and packing allergen-free snacks.
Remember to always personally carry your medication(s) in their original packaging. Losing your luggage would be an inconvenience, losing your medications could be a medical crisis. Be aware of the locations of hospitals near your destination and get the contact information for local medical professionals. Pack extra copies of medical documentation, so you’ll have this information on hand in the event of an emergency.
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 allergen in the language of the country you’re visiting and be able to recognize it on food packaging. However, be aware that food labeling laws in other countries may not be the same as those in the United States. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and when in doubt, just say no.
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Reprinted with the permission of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. © 1996-2008 American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. All Rights Reserved.