As we begin to emerge from the pandemic and positivity rates fall as vaccination rates rise, Americans are starting to plan for summer travel. I think everyone is ready for a vacation! People are also thinking of ways to stay safe as they travel. But safety concerns during travel is nothing new for those with food allergies, since managing food allergies never “takes a vacation”. Still, it is possible to travel confidently with food allergies by taking some important precautions and preparing ahead. Here are five tips for traveling with food allergies.
- Research BEFORE you book travel. Find out about your accommodations and locale. Consider questions like: Is there a dedicated kitchen to store and prepare safe meals if needed? Where’s the closest emergency room/hospital? Are there food allergy friendly restaurants nearby? What kind of accommodations do I feel most comfortable with if flying?
- Be sure to have chef cards and emergency information in the language spoken at your destination. Chef cards help you communicate your food allergy in writing to wait staff, cooks and chefs, and others involved in dining services. Remember, language barriers can be risk factors, so be sure you know what is being communicated about allergens.
- Refill any emergency or maintenance prescriptions well ahead of scheduled departure. You don’t want to be delayed because of a prescription refill – and you definitely don’t want to travel without your meds!
- Keep epinephrine with you at all times – don’t check it with your luggage. In case of an emergency, you want to have immediate access to your epinephrine auto-injector whether on a plan, train, or automobile.
- Have a great time! Dr. Mustafa Shahzad once shared the term “relaxed readiness” in a presentation I attended. He used it to describe the idea that those with food allergies should take precautions, know what to do in case of a reaction, and then relax because they know they’re ready. While food allergy safety doesn’t get a vacation, with appropriate planning and precautions, you can enjoy a state of relaxed readiness.
Wherever you’re traveling this summer, know that having food allergies doesn’t mean you can’t have fun!