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Safe Trip: How to Handle Your Food Allergies While on Vacation

From informing the airline of your allergy to carrying translation cards, these tips will help you to have a worry-free trip

Woman sipping tea and looking out train window

Going on vacation is fun and exciting, but if you’ve got food allergies, there are a few extra steps you’ll need to take. Follow these simple tips for a safe and worry-free trip.

Plan ahead:

Call the airline before you book your flight; let them know of any life-threatening allergies you or your children have and ask about the food that will be served on the plane. “More and more airlines are trying to be accommodating,” say Kim Koeller, author of Let’s Eat Out! and founder of AllergyFree Passport. “They offer gluten-free and peanut-free meal options, and also let you bring snacks on the plane.” Koeller recommends taking the first flight out since it’s generally the cleanest. She also suggests reminding the airline of your allergy 24 to 72 hours before you depart, and again when you board the plane.

Be prepared:

If you carry an epi-pen, auto-injector or medication of any kind, check the expiry date before you leave. Although you probably won’t run into problems with security, it’s still a good idea to get a doctor’s note to document the allergy and your need for medication. Before leaving, write down local emergency phone numbers such as the 911 equivalent and research where to get medical help. And make sure to purchase travel insurance before you leave. CAA has some great, flexible options.

Do your homework:

Find out the different names of the foods you’re allergic to in other languages, and learn what ingredients are commonly used in the local dishes. Allergic to nuts? Be extra cautious with Thai food. Shellfish allergy? Avoid Lobster Fest. “The more people educate themselves on food preparation, the more comfortable and confident they will feel to ask the right questions,” says Koeller.

Know your options:

It’s important to be able to communicate your allergy to restaurant staff. Many websites such as AllergyFree Passport offer translation cards that list (in the country’s local language) what you’re allergic to and how severe it is, some even indicate what sort of medical treatment is needed if you have a reaction. Print these at home and carry them with you at all times. It’s your responsibility to make sure restaurant staff understand your allergy. “Talk to the server first,” says Koeller. “If you don’t feel comfortable, talk to the manager or chef. If you still feel uncertain, consider going somewhere else to eat.”

Planning for a vacation is an exciting time. If you’re flying solo, there are some important tips to keep in mind to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Read on for more.

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