Having allergies often means planning, preparation, and routine. Yes, you have an extra EpiPen in your locker or briefcase, you know which foods to avoid in every restaurant within a ten mile radius of your house, and you’re used to taking the long way home when walking from work to avoid that pollen-laden park. Bravo to you for taking the bull by the horns (well, unless you’re allergic to fur…) and learning to live with your allergies. But wait. What happens when you’re out of your comfort zone? When your routine gets broken up? We’re talking about…traveling with allergies! New time zones, unfamiliar food, foreign languages, unknown pharmacies!
Relax. You can do this! Going on vacation may throw off your regular routine for dealing with your allergies, but with some forethought and planning ahead, there’s no reason you can’t have a great trip. Whether you’re passing city limits or flying to parts unknown, here are some tips for managing the experience of traveling with allergies. And remember to consult with your doctor if you have any specific concerns.
Tips for Traveling with Allergies
- Stock up on your medication: This means both prescription and nonprescription. If you’re going to be gone for longer than 30 days, speak to your pharmacist about getting an extended supply. (You may need to contact your insurance company directly for approval on extended quantities first.) Remember that you can’t be sure your destination will have your medications on hand, especially if you’re headed overseas.
- Bring your own: If you have a food allergy, be sure to bring some easily-packed foods from home, such as prepackaged foods. These will help in a pinch. Remember this especially when going overseas. Just because you recognize a food item doesn’t guarantee it has the same ingredients or that it’s prepared the same. This also goes for those with allergies to products such as sunblock, detergents, etc.
- Speak the language: If you’re going to a foreign language speaking country, allergy requests can seem especially tough. Before you go, take the time to make yourself a guide with important allergy-related words and phrases translated into the relevant language.The website for Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) has great “chef cards” in a number of languages for you to fill out and print.
- Check the breathability: Look up the pollen count in the area you’ll be traveling to ahead of time to get an idea of what the breathability will be like. Weather.com has a handy allergy tracker you can use- just type in your destination and get a pollen forecast for up to ten days out.
- Choose your destination wisely: Where you choose as your vacation destination can be based on how well they handle your particular allergy. If going overseas, check out FARE’s excellent list of food allergy travel info listed by country. You’ll get info on your prospective destination’s emergency services, their policies on traveling with an EpiPen, and some general tips for traveling with allergies to foods.
This may seem like a lot, but you can totally do this! Just like learning to live with your allergies in everyday life, all you need is some planning and forethought to have a safe and wonderful experience traveling with allergies. Now get out there, get planning, get packing, and have a blast! And remember that if you have any questions, AAPRI is always here to help, so contact us anytime.