Whether it’s a bee sting or a stray peanut, an allergy attack can derail your trip (and possibly kill you). Those with severe allergies may feel like travel is not a realistic possibility for them. While it may seem that allergies can greatly limit your travel options, there are a variety of strategies that allow the allergy-sufferer to travel with a certain peace of mind. In this post, we offer 5 tips for traveling with an allergy that can be adapted to almost any destination.
1. Research your destination(s) before hand
With a combination of guidebooks and the Internet, you can find a lot of information on your destination long before you arrive. Depending on your allergy, this research may have to do with certain foods (a good tip is to look up local dishes and then search for recipes for each one to see what ingredients are used) or it may involve certain kinds of plants or even wildlife (bees!!!!).
By searching message boards and search engines for specific allergy information with respect to your destination, you will likely find testimony from travelers that have previous experience and this can serve as an additional knowledge bank that you can take advantage of.
2. Use available resources to translate your allergy into different languages
Wherever you end up traveling, you should make sure that you know how to inform locals of your allergy. There are a couple ways that you can do this. One way would be to conduct the language research yourself using dictionaries and things like Google Translate. Once you know what you want to say in your target language, you can make a flash card with the phrase and perhaps a picture. Laminate the card and carry it with you wherever you go.
Some companies offer pre-made cards and other resources specifically tailored to travelers who suffer from Allergies. For example, Select Wisely has options for a variety of food allergies and medical conditions.
There are also – as evidenced in the video above – smartphone applications that can do much of the heavy lifting for you, depending on the allergy. Regardless of whether you use a pre-made travel resource or not, you should have a basic understanding of important words in the target language that you can use in case of an emergency.
3. Travel with the requisite medications
Whether you are used to carrying an EpiPen or regular old Benadryl, you should continue with the same program at your destination. If you carry the EpiPen with you everywhere at home, then it goes without saying that you should do the same when on the road. It’s important to note, however, that you should make sure to stock up on all important medical supplies related to your allergy before you travel. Pharmacies abroad may not offer the exact product and you may not necessarily be able to find something that is comparable.
4. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or say no
Even in situations where you may feel obligated to try something (for example, a family has invited you into their home for dinner), you can always say no. The social awkwardness will not be as bad as an allergy attack and it’s better to put your foot down and say no if you are not sure. Of course, ask as many questions as possible before saying “yes” or “no,” and whenever you can, inform locals about your allergy ahead of time. In some places, a particular allergy may require you to repeatedly make your point – there are many places where certain allergies are incredibly rare.
If you are a traveler and you suffer from allergies, please share any strategies you may have in the comments below.
Photo credit: flickr user camknows