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Emily’s Top 5 Tips on Traveling with a Life-Threatening Food Allergy

Emily’s Top 5 Tips on Traveling with a Life-Threatening Food Allergy

Million Mile SecretsEmily’s Top 5 Tips on Traveling with a Life-Threatening Food AllergyMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Emily:   Traveling with a food allergy or other dietary restrictions can be a scary experience.  It’s even more frightening when you have had a near death allergic reaction, like me.

Several years ago, I had an allergic reaction after eating some contaminated food in Spain.

Emilys Top 5 Tips On Traveling With A Life Threatening Food Allergy
I Am Deathly Allergic to Lots of Seafood

Thankfully, I survived that trip, but I literally thought it was my time to go.  Ever since then, I’ve been much more prepared and cautious during my travels.

Here are my top 5 tips for folks traveling with food allergies:

1.   Bring Multiple EpiPens

EpiPens are the single most important thing to take with you.  They combat anaphylactic shock, and can buy you time to get emergency care.  A few minutes can mean life or death.  With my predicament in Spain, the nurse said that if my travel partner, Daraius, had not used an EpiPen on me, I probably wouldn’t have survived.

2.   Bring Other Emergency Medication

Visit an allergy specialist and get prescriptions for the drugs you need.  I always carry Benadryl (available over the counter) and Prednisone (an anti-inflammatory).

3.   Minimize Risk By Formally Notifying Service Staff

I always carry Select Wisely’s chef cards with me.  You can customize them by language and allergy.

These have been invaluable for preventing allergic reactions from happening in the first place.  Restaurants seem to take written instructions more seriously than an informal conversation.

Emilys Top 5 Tips On Traveling With A Life Threatening Food Allergy
The Flight Attendants Took My Allergy Very Seriously on This Flight

In Spain, I verbally informed the waiter that I had a life-threatening allergy (and I speak fluent Spanish, so I know it wasn’t lost in translation).  I think if I had a written card that he could read and take to the chef, it may not have happened.

4.   Bring Back-Up Food

When I travel to extremely remote locations, or to countries with less-than-developed emergency care, I always bring my own food in case I don’t feel safe.  In the Dominican Republic, I was once on a snorkel excursion where fish was served for the group lunch.  So instead, I ate a few granola bars that I brought from home.  My favorites are Probars because they are packed with protein and fiber.

5.   Train Your Travel Partner(s) on How to Administer Your Medication

If you are traveling with others, let them know the signs of an allergic reaction and how to use your medication in case of an emergency.  And consider staying with that person up to 2 hours after eating, which is when most severe reactions occur.  Daraius was thinking of going back to the hotel because he was tired right after we ate dinner, but I asked him to stay with me.  If he would’ve gone back, I might not be here to write this post today!

Emilys Top 5 Tips On Traveling With A Life Threatening Food Allergy
There May Not Be Time to Wait for the Professionals. Your Friends Could Be Your Only Hope!

Bottom Line

I am deathly allergic to a variety of seafood, so I have to be constantly on the alert, especially when I travel!  If I don’t understand the language, can’t read the menu, or can’t proficiently converse with the folks making my food, I always have a backup plan.

If any of you have food allergies, I’d love to hear your ideas for dealing with them while traveling abroad!

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Emily, I was glad to discover this old article today, somehow I missed it in January. It sounds like you and I have the same severe seafood allergy. I find it intimidating to eat at restaurants and travel, although I love traveling. Unfortunately my favorite locations are near the ocean. Just two months ago I had an allergy scare in a restaurant when my verbal communication with the wait staff did not work. I’m going to look into the cards you recommended. I hope to see more articles about this serious and important topic. Thanks!

My daughter has a dairy allergy and we take lots of DF bars, but we also travel with a HotLogic mini portable oven, along with packages of instant oatmeal and freeze dried rice and beans. We even traveled via WOW to Europe with 3 backpacks for 10 days this way. We never leave the HotLogic plugged in when we are not there, but it has been a life saver for us.

Dawn, thanks for sharing that tip about the HotLogic. I’ve never heard of such a thing but it could come in handy in many places when traveling with diet restrictions for health!