Traveling is an exciting experience, but it can be a challenge for those with allergies. With proper preparation and precautions, you can enjoy your trip without the worry of an allergic reaction. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about managing allergies while traveling, from visiting your doctor before you leave to recognizing symptoms and staying safe during your trip.
Preparing for Your Trip
Schedule an Appointment with Your Healthcare Provider
Visit your healthcare provider or a travel health specialist at least a month before you leave. They can help you get destination-specific vaccines, medicines, and information. Discuss your health concerns, itinerary, and planned activities so they can give you tailored advice and recommendations. Make sure you inform them of your food or medication allergies.
Pack a Travel Health Kit
Prepare a travel health kit with items you may need, especially those that might be difficult to find at your destination. Include prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, enough for your entire trip plus extra in case of travel delays. Depending on your destination, you may also want to pack a mask, insect repellent, sunscreen (SPF15 or higher), aloe, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, water disinfection tablets, and your health insurance card.
Additional Items to Pack
- Allergy medicines such as inhalers and epinephrine (adrenaline)
- Safe snacks or meals for your flight and time at the airport
- Cards listing your food allergies, translated into the local language
- Copies of your allergy emergency response plan, including translations
- A medical alert system like a bracelet or other device
- Travel insurance that covers healthcare and emergency evacuation
Staying Safe During Your Trip
Choose Safe Food and Drink
Contaminated food or drinks can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases. Foods served hot, dry, and packaged foods are usually safe, as are bottled, canned, and hot drinks. If you have food allergies, take additional precautions:
- Always ask about ingredients and check food labels
- Avoid “street food” as it’s difficult to verify ingredients
- Provide anyone preparing your meals with a card listing your food allergies, translated into the local language
Recognize Signs and Symptoms of Allergic Reactions
It’s essential to know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, and when and how to use epinephrine auto-injectors. Carry your auto-injector with you at all times during your trip.
Prepare Your Travel Companions
Make sure your travel companions have a copy of your allergy emergency response plan and teach them how to recognize signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. Ensure they know the location of your epinephrine auto-injector and how to use it in case of an allergy emergency.
Minimize Environmental Allergies
To lessen environmental allergies:
- Limit outdoor activities when air quality is poor or pollen count is high
- Stay in smoke-free and allergy-friendly accommodations
- Pack all necessary medicines and equipment, including antihistamines
By following these guidelines and taking the necessary precautions, travelers with allergies can have a safe and enjoyable trip. Don’t let your allergies hold you back—embrace your sense of adventure and explore the world with confidence!