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7 Tips for Traveling With Allergies and Anaphylaxis

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Traveling is a stressful prospect at the best of times. People always look forward to their holiday but when it gets closer it’s the worry of forgetting last minute things such as sun-tan lotion or extra underwear. For a person with allergies, it’s a lot more complicated than that. It’s the worry of going to another country where they may speak a different language altogether or allergies may not be as widely known about. It’s the worry of “what if” and the stress of making sure there is enough medication to last the holiday. Here are some useful tips on traveling for those with allergies.

1. Make sure you have a supply of medication.

Particularly if you are traveling on a plane, this is important. The rule I usually follow is have two lots of medication. So for example, four EpiPens instead of the usual two. The reason for the two sets is in case something were to go wrong and you misplaced one set. Particularly where EpiPens are concerned, if they’re left in heat past a certain temperature they may not work as efficiently so it’s always good to have an extra supply.

2. Have adequate travel insurance.

If traveling somewhere within the EU (European Union) or the USA it is vital to have travel insurance. I think a lot of people assume allergies don’t need to be covered by insurance but you don’t want to be caught out in the unfortunate incident of ending up requiring medical care and potentially ending up with a large medical bill. When traveling within the EU it is a good idea to get a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). These are free to get as long as you do not need them fast-tracked and they entitle you to free or reduced cost health care within most European Union countries. When traveling to the USA, there are many companies offering health insurance; it is a good idea to shop around.

3. Have a note of your details.

An idea is to have a note of your details written on either a card or a piece of paper in case of an emergency. If you are going to another country a good idea would be to have this written in not only English but the country’s language, too. Due to one of the symptoms of anaphylaxis often being difficulty in breathing and/or speaking, it can often be great for the emergency services and other people when trying to convey necessary information. Ideas of things to write down are:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • GP name and address
  • Next of kin contact
  • Medication
  • Allergies

You could also put a note of things like any consultants you are under as well as how your allergies affect you (such as anaphylaxis, rash, vomiting, etc.).

4. Have a doctor’s letter.

This is particularly important if you are traveling on a plane somewhere. Sometimes airlines can be very picky about letting people take medication on board if there is no doctor’s letter stating you need it, in particular if it needs to be carried in hand luggage. Due to the ban on liquids over 100 mL being in place on a lot of flights, airlines are reluctant to let people carry liquid medication if it’s over 100 mL. An example of this would be liquid clorphenamine.

5. Have an emergency plan.

No one wants to be caught in an emergency situation, particularly on holiday, but it’s always a good idea to have a plan in place if anything were to happen. Have a note of what the local emergency services number is (you can find this on google). Another good idea is to know where the nearest medical center is (in case you need medical help but it’s not a dire emergency) as well as the nearest hospital with an emergency department.

6. If going to a country with a different language, get translation cards.

It can be difficult enough to communicate in a foreign country if you don’t have allergies but allergies make it a whole lot more difficult. An idea would be to get translation cards with the chosen language on them to portray important information. It would be good to have what you’re allergic to written in that language as well as what to do if you were to have a reaction (for example call the emergency services).

7. Plan ahead for eating.

If possible try to get somewhere self-catering, this really helps out when it comes to allergies as you know exactly what would be going in to the food you are consuming and cooking. If this is not possible then make the place you are staying in aware of your dietary requirements. Make sure to remind the waiting staff at every meal so as to make sure nothing that will cause a problem comes into contact with foods. Look up well-known food places within the country you are going to be staying and find out the locations of them. Making a list of safe places can be a really good idea. Seeking advice from others who are well-known to allergies via social media (Facebook, forums, etc.) is also a good idea.

Photo by Helena Sollie on Unsplash

Originally published: November 12, 2018
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