It’s a warm, sunny day. You feel the sun's warm glow on your skin and you hear the sounds of the crashing waves around you: it's a complete getaway from your daily struggles. The only thing that could ruin this moment is the stress of an allergy. But it’s not a time to be worrying about using your epi-pen or what you will eat for the rest of the day. An allergy should not stop you from the number of vacations you take or whether or not you can travel by boat or plane. This is why I decided to write step-by-step instructions on traveling with allergies from the perspective of someone who has gone on many travels with a life-threatening allergy.
In anticipation of your trip, it’s always a good idea to scope out the restaurants around your destination. Checking ahead of time to see what places serve food you can eat will prevent stress on your vacation. If you’re having trouble figuring out if a restaurant is allergy-safe, there are some organizations that share information on the dietary accommodations of restaurants such as the NYC Celiac Meetup Group. If you forget to check ahead of time, there are also a few apps that can help make your life easier. “Find Me Gluten-Free,” “Happy Cow,” and “Allergy Eats” are all great options to try out. I have also found that going to grocery stores in the area, picking up a few snacks that you know are safe, and placing them in your backpack for throughout the trip can be helpful.
Depending on the vacation, a plane, boat, or car may be used for transportation. A car is the easiest way to accommodate an allergy because one can bring as much food as they may like for the trip, but this should not stop you from going on a plane.
Before heading to the airport, I recommend eating a large meal to prevent hunger on the flight. When I eat before a flight, I typically do not get hungry until after landing. If you’re allergic to peanuts, it’s best to check if they are served on the plane before booking your flight. If they do, some airlines like Southwest will not serve peanuts if contacted a few days before about this concern. As you may already know, you should not put your epi-pen in your checked luggage bag. It’s best to keep it accessible in your carry-on bag.
With my allergy, I have found boats to be the hardest to travel by. It is extremely important to check whether a cruise line honors dietary restrictions for you on board. If you cannot eat anything and you are out at sea, that would be one awful and hungry vacation. Each cruise has a different policy, many of which require calling ahead of time to inform them about the allergy. Before booking a room, it is critical that you are informed of their allergen policy and complete it in the correct manner. When in doubt, go on a Disney cruise. Disney may not be everyone's style, but one of my first trips with my allergies was at Disney. I found that they always want you to have the best experience and will accommodate you in any way possible.
Last but not least, traveling aboard. All prior tips and tricks apply, but if you are traveling to a country that does not speak English, I recommend bringing a card that states your allergies in the language of the country you are going to. This card can be shown at restaurants to inform them of your allergy.
All in all, an allergy should not prevent you from experiencing the joys of life. With the proper precautions, any vacation can run smoothly and be fun! I wish you happy planning and safe travels!