Tips for travelling abroad with allergies

If you suffer with an allergy, then travelling abroad can feel like quite a daunting process, especially if you are travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language.

To put your mind at ease, I have collated many tips for travelling with allergies so you can relax and enjoy your holiday.

Read on to learn how best to manage travelling with allergies.

Tips for travelling abroad with allergies

Understand your allergies

For some people they have lived for allergies for years and know the protocol if they have an allergic reaction, however if you have only recently been diagnosed with an allergy then you should learn as much about your allergy as possible and the symptoms to watch out for.

The first step in finding out what you are allergic to is by taking an allergy test so you are aware of all the allergens you need to avoid.  You can see a professional in person to be tested or you can conveniently take an allergy test at home by yourself. 

Once you have the results you can consult with a doctor or medical professional for treatment options or ways to manage your symptoms when you have a reaction.

You can also research and learn as much as possible about the triggers and symptoms so you know what to look out for.

Carry at least two adrenaline auto-injectors if you are at risk of an anaphylactic shock

If you are at risk of an anaphylactic shock with your allergy then you should carry at least two of your auto-injector pens on your person at all times.

These special pens can help stop an anaphylactic reaction from becoming life threatening.  There are three types of adrenaline auto-injectors: EpiPen, Jext and Emerade. 

They all work in slightly different ways so you need to learn how to use each and make sure your travel companions know how to administer them to you if you have a shock.

Make sure your travel companions know what to do if you have symptoms of anaphylaxis

It’s all very well you knowing all about your allergies and what to do if you have a shock, but make sure your travel companions are well aware of the symptoms and what to do.  You might not be able to administer your adrenaline yourself, so someone else needs to know the protocol.

Share this useful information with them which is from the NHS website:

“If someone has symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should:

  1. Use an adrenaline auto-injector if the person has one – but make sure you know how to use it correctly first
  2. Call 999* for an ambulance immediately (even if they start to feel better) – mention that you think the person has anaphylaxis
  3. Remove any trigger if possible – for example, carefully remove any stinger stuck in the skin
  4. Lie the person down flat – unless they’re unconscious, pregnant or having breathing difficulties
  5. Give another injection after 5-15 minutes if the symptoms do not improve and a second auto-injector is available”

* Make sure you know the correct number for the emergency services in the country you are visiting.

Tips for travelling abroad with allergies

Order allergy translation cards

Allergy UK sells allergy translation cards which are credit card-sized cards explaining your allergy in the language of the country you are visiting.  These can be shared in restaurants with staff members if you have a food allergy, or they can be shared with doctors or nurses if you need medical attention.

Translation cards ensure the severity of your allergy is explained to the waiting staff when you have a food allergy that can be life-threatening.  They will know yours is not simply a food lifestyle choice, but a severe allergy and they must be diligent.

Of course, you can always make your own cards too.

Learn a phrase or two to explain your allergy

It’s advisable for you and your travelling companions to learn at least some phrases if possible to explain what your allergy is in the language for the country you are visiting. 

This is especially important if your allergy is serious and can cause an anaphylactic shock.  Being able to explain what is happening to you will be very important for your travelling companions too.

There are lots of free language translation apps you and your travel party can download.

Food allergy?  Make a list of all the foods that contain the allergen and translate

If you have a food allergy then it’s important to avoid the ingredients that contain your allergen when shopping in the supermarket.  Make a list of all the foods that contain the allergen and translate into the language of the country you are visiting.  Then you are able to check the ingredients list when shopping in supermarkets or grabbing food on the go.

Consider packing your own food and snacks that you know are safe.

Tips for travelling abroad with allergies

Choose your accommodation and location wisely

To ensure you enjoy your holiday and are at low-risk of suffering from your allergy symptoms, make sure you pick the location and even accommodation wisely, depending on your type of allergy:

  • If you have a pet allergy, then don’t choose accommodation that allows pets.
  • Hayfever?  Try mountain locations or coastal locations as they will have lower pollen counts than being inland.
  • If you have a dust mite allergy then take your pillow and mattress protectors with you.
  • Food allergies?  Choose a location that doesn’t use the allergen in abundance in its local cuisine.  If it’s too risky to eat out then pick self-catering accommodation so you can prepare your own food.
  • Know where the nearest hospital is if your allergy is severe and you may need medical attention.

Airbnb is great for finding self-catering accommodation! 

Pack plenty of medication and documentation

If you take allergy medication then make sure you take plenty with you – enough for your holiday and extra in case of any delays or unexpected circumstances.  My mum was once stranded abroad because of a volcanic eruption which grounded all flights!

Carry a doctor’s letter that proves your allergies and lists the medication you require.  This is helpful at airport security and also if you need any medical attention.

Prepare beforehand where possible

There may be some symptoms of your allergy that you can prepare for before your holiday and reduce where relevant. For example, some allergies can cause an excess of wax in the ears as explain: “Unfortunately allergies also cause swelling of the Eustachian tubes, meaning they don’t open as they should. This causes the Eustachian tubes to become clogged with the excess fluid and wax, and the result is a feeling of fullness and pressure in the ears that can negatively affect hearing.”

This is something that can be reduced before a holiday to ensure you have the most pleasant time. By visiting specialist clinic Cleaner Ears just before your holiday, you can safely have any buildup of ear wax removed to ensure your hearing is at its best on holiday, ready to take in all the sounds!

If you have any other issues from your allergies that can be resolved before your holiday, then plan these into your schedule.

Let flight staff know about severe food allergies

Check out the airline’s policy for food allergies at the time of booking and make sure you contact them to let them know about any severe food allergies you have before booking.  Make sure you are comfortable with their procedure for flights when someone aboard has a severe food allergy before choosing to fly with them.

If you are happy with their policy, see if you can board first to wipe down seats and trays to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned from the last passenger.

Tips for travelling abroad with allergies

Declare your allergies on your travel insurance

Firstly, make sure you book travel insurance.  This is important whether you have allergies or not, but if it’s likely you’ll need medical attention if you have an allergic reaction, then you won’t want to be lumbered with a hefty medical bill during your holiday.

Make sure you declare your allergies properly on your travel insurance to ensure they will pay out if you need medical assistance whilst abroad.

Get Going travel insurance offers affordable policies for 1000s of medical conditions.

Final thoughts

Travelling with an allergy can be stress-free with some preparation and an action plan in place should anything go wrong. Follow the tips above and do plenty of research before your trip so you are well prepared in the event of an emergency.

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