If you are one of the millions of people around the world who suffer from a nut allergy, you know only too well the stress this can bring when you are travelling to a foreign country. Peanut allergies, in particular, can be severe, and an allergic reaction can sometimes be fatal. While you know to always read food labels and keep your Epi-pen to hand, it pays to be a bit more prepared when you are on vacation. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Have an Emergency Plan in Place
In case the worst happens and you suffer an allergic reaction, make sure that you carry an Epi-pen on you at all times. If your family members or friends are travelling with you, inform them of the right way to administer the medication should you find yourself unable to do so. It can also help to have a doctor’s note of the name of the medication and the dosage required if you are admitted to hospital. You will need to emphasize the fact that you need to be seen immediately as some foreign hospitals may not understand the severity of your reaction.
Carry All Meds with You
Speaking of Epi-pens, make sure you pack more than one. You ideally want spares in your hand luggage in case your check-in baggage is delayed or lost, and check the use by dates of all of them. Always carry a copy of your prescription so that your medication can easily be explained at airport security, nightclubs etc.
Make Yourself Understood
If you are traveling to a country where the language is not your own, it can be a good idea to learn at least a few basic words in order for you to be able to make yourself understood. Additionally, if you suffer a peanut allergy in Thailand, for example, research nearby hospitals that have interpreters on hand so that nothing gets lost in translation. Learning the translations for the foods you are allergic to can also be useful to have written down on a piece of card to show in a restaurant.
Be Careful with Both Restaurant and Packaged Foods
Although experiencing the local cuisine is part of the holiday experience, you need to exercise extra caution here. Ask to speak the chef if you need to, to find out exactly what ingredients are used in a dish. Avoid spicy foods if you can, as the strength of the spiciness can actually mask the beginning stages of an allergic reaction. Also know that packaged foods in some countries are labelled according to different standards. For example, in Italy and France you will find almonds and pistachios in many cakes and pastries even if it is labelled ‘nut-free’. And in Brazil, cashew nuts are commonly found in chocolate without a mention on the ingredients list.
If you have a long flight ahead of you, or you have booked a coach tour, know that you will have to plan ahead when it comes to food. Take a packed lunch if you don’t want to take the risk of there being no nut-free options available, or phone ahead and see if this can be catered for.
Living with a nut allergy doesn’t mean you have to miss out on vacations. Keep these tips in mind while booking your next trip for extra peace of mind.