I have always been hesitant to travel internationally with my food allergies. With the stress of dealing with different languages, different food allergy procedures, different cuisines, etc., it has always seemed like an out-of-reach goal to travel the world.
This past month, however, I finally decided to take my first trip abroad to the UK. While I still haven’t gone to a country that doesn’t speak my language, it’s a first step in the right direction. Today, I’m going to share my tips with you on how I traveled internationally with my food allergies!
1. Pack lots of snacks!
I’ve found throughout my life that, for the most part, certain meals just aren’t accommodating for my allergies. For example, since breakfast tends to consist of a lot of pastries, other bakery items, and coffee with nut milk, I tend to make my own breakfast. However, when it comes to traveling, it isn’t always possible to make your own food.
This is why I brought a lot of food from home on my trip! I brought a lot of cereal and snacks, such as crackers, candy, and other items that I could eat in a pinch and that would stay good throughout my trip. I also went to a bunch of little corner stores to pick up some new safe snacks – such as nut-free Cadbury chocolates in the UK! Fruit is also a good go-to meal for when nothing else is safe.
2. Bring your EpiPens!
I don’t know how many times I am going to have to say this, but triple-check to make sure that you have packed your EpiPens with you! I always bring extra EpiPens with me, too, so bring any and all EpiPens that you have with you. Also, check your EpiPens’ expiration dates before you leave so that you have working EpiPens with you on your trip. If you aren’t able to find some non-expired EpiPens before you go on your trip, just bring whichever ones you have, since expired EpiPens still work better than no EpiPens in an emergency.
3. Get an allergy card in the language of the country you are going to.
If you are going to a country that speaks a different language, I recommend getting an allergy card in the language of the country you are going to! This helps to ensure that your waiter and the chef know about your allergies, even with a language barrier. FARE has some printable options here, and there are many companies that you can pay to make custom allergy cards, too!
4. Know the emergency number of the country you are going to.
When I traveled to the UK, I didn’t think about the fact that the emergency number there is different than in the US. In the UK, 999 is the equivalent of 911 in the US. Make sure to check what the number is in the country you are going to!
5. Find the closest hospital to your hotel.
To make sure that you are prepared in case an emergency ever were to happen, figure out which hospital is closest to your hotel, how you would get there, and how far away it is. It is always better to be prepared and not have an emergency than to not be prepared in an emergency!
6. Consider getting an Airbnb or a hotel with a kitchen.
Having a kitchen available to cook food if needed is always a plus on vacations. This takes the stress off of feeling like you have to find a safe restaurant. Is everyone else eating at a restaurant that isn’t safe for you? It’s ok, you can just make something safe at the Airbnb. This makes it less stressful for everyone!
7. Plan out where you are going to eat.
It helps to have a plan of where you are going to eat during your trip. I didn’t plan out a day of eating for my trip to the UK, and it wasn’t fun walking around for a long time with no safe options around!
I recommend making a list of what you are doing each day and seeing what safe options are around to eat for each meal. I recommend using the Spokin app for this! I love getting to see other people’s reviews of restaurants there, and it definitely takes the stress away when I know that other people have had a good experience there, too. If you would like to see what safe restaurants I ate at in the UK, follow me on Spokin at @nallergy!
8. Enjoy your trip!
Last, of all, make sure to enjoy your trip! With a little bit of extra planning, you can ensure that your food allergies won’t get in the way of enjoying your trip.
That’s it for my tips today! If you want more tips on how to fly on an airplane with food allergies, check out this blog post that I wrote for Just Allergy Things last year. I hope that you have an awesome trip abroad!