Flying somewhere new can be daunting and risky for those with food allergies and their families. Avoiding forbidden foods and ingredients in unfamiliar territory requires some forward thinking and planning early on. You may have to be forceful when it comes to explaining your allergy to those who prepare your meals while you're away.
What else can you do to make traveling with food allergies go smoothly? You can bring along items that might help you avoid coming into contact with foods and ingredients that make you sick.
We spoke with doctors, allergists and nutritionists to get their top tips on traveling with food allergies. Here's how to be better prepared for your next vacation, according to them.
-Your passport-Cash or credit cards-A change of clothes-Toiletries-Medication-Your phone and charger-An extra set of keys-A book or something to keep you entertainedWhat to bring in your carry-on:
-Cash or credit cards
-A change of clothes
-Your phone and charger
-An extra set of keys
-A book or something to keep you entertained
When traveling with food allergies, it is best to be prepared in order to minimize stress. It is a good idea to plan for the unexpected and to over-prepare. It is always best to consult with a doctor before traveling, in order to find out any additional precautions that may need to be taken.
Doctor Katie Marks-Cogan, Chief Allergist at Ready, Set, Food!, says that individuals who use an EpiPen should carry at least two of the devices in their carry-on bag when away from home. In the case of delays, you should have ample supply to cover you or your family should the need arise. If you keep EpiPens in your travel bag for emergencies only, they should be checked regularly to make sure that they are not expired.
If you or your child has food allergies, it can be helpful to travel with an alert bracelet or card that states your allergies. This is especially important when you're traveling to a different country.
"The card will list your or your child's food allergies in English and other necessary languages," Marks-Cogan says.
It is ideal to order or create your own card that spells out your food allergies in the native language of the country you are traveling to. Fortunately, you can easily do this on your own using Google Translate or other translation apps.
Meghan Pendleton, a registered dietician, also recommends carrying some safe snacks in your carry-on bag.
"The best way to ensure you have safe food to eat is to bring your own," she says. Above all, she recommends bringing dry foods from home that don't need to be refrigerated. "Solid foods are allowed to be brought through TSA checkpoints so that you may enjoy them in the airport or during your flight."
"While many airports now list their restaurants online, there are always chances of cross-contamination or missing menu information," Pendleton says. "And, in the case the airline you're traveling with doesn't have any allergen-free snacks on board, those that you've brought yourself can make the flying experience much more enjoyable."
There are several items you can purchase ahead of time to make traveling with food allergies less stressful. Consider this packing list as you prepare for your next trip:
-A travel-sized container of your allergy-safe cooking oil
-A travel-sized container of your favorite condiment
-A travel-sized container of allergy-safe hand wipes
-A travel-sized container of allergy-safe laundry detergent
If you have food allergies and are traveling, Pendleton suggests bringing some disinfectant wipes. Wipe down surfaces like seat armrests and trays when you get to your seat, as they may have unsafe food particulates from previous passengers. A travel pack of disinfectant wipes that fits nicely into your carry-on luggage or travel backpack is ideal.
The experts we spoke to agreed that wearing a food allergy bracelet can help inform others of your condition in an emergency. This set of bracelets, which includes one large and one small bracelet, is customizable with eight allergy charms: peanut, shellfish, wheat, fish, soy, tree nut, egg and one medic charm. This food allergy bracelet is geared specifically toward children aged 3 years to 8 years, and its bright colors are meant to draw the attention of others in an emergency situation.
18 dollars at
When seeking out a bracelet style for adults, American Medical ID has a great selection. You can pick from a range of jewelry for men and women, with options like food allergy bracelets, necklaces, pendants and more. You can also customize your jewelry with your food allergy information and other details. With materials ranging from stainless steel all the way up to 10-karat gold, you're sure to find one that fits your style.
This is our editor's favorite item!
This item is our editor's favorite!
We're huge fans of these reusable Stasher bags at Underscored. They make it easy to pack safe, clean food options from home when you're traveling. You can use them for sandwiches, wraps, chips and other travel snacks you might want to enjoy on the plane journey or after you arrive at your destination. Plus, Stasher bags are dishwasher-safe, so you can easily use them over and over again. That makes them a sustainable and eco-friendly option for packing food when you travel.
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If you have food allergies in your family, it makes sense to bring along reusable cutlery. This three-piece bamboo travel silverware set can help you avoid contamination that can take place with forks, spoons and knives that might be exposed to risky foods or ingredients based on where they're kept. The reusable case makes it easy for you to store washed cutlery in between meals as well. This set is also BPA-free and dishwasher-safe.
10% is $1.10
$11 at 10% is $1.10
If you're traveling with an EpiPen and various other medications, it can be helpful to have a dedicated storage bag for travel. This particular bag has multiple mesh compartments for pill bottles, as well as room for several EpiPens, antihistamines and other supplies. It's made of durable materials that will last you for many trips, and it's also waterproof.
$19 at 7:15
A travel journal can be a game-changer. If there's a language barrier between you and someone at your destination and you're trying to detail your food allergy, being able to communicate on paper is essential. As an added bonus, carrying this travel journal around on your travels will help you to document each trip you take to reflect on it for years to come.
$15 dollars at 7:00pm
Kids need their own way to snack when food allergies are an issue, and this makes safe snacking a real possibility. This container has two separate compartments which is ideal for fruits, vegetables or crunchy snacks of any kind. The built-in lid keeps foods free of contamination until your little one is ready to eat. The easy-open latch also makes this container perfect for kids, and this product is dishwasher safe and available in six different colors.
-Educate yourself and your travel companions about your food allergies before you leave.
-Pack safe snacks and meals with you, in case you can't find anything safe to eat at your destination.
-Carry your epinephrine injector with you at all times.
-Be cautious of cross contamination when eating out, and always ask about the ingredients in your food.Other tips for traveling with food allergies include educating yourself and your travel companions about your food allergies before you leave, packing safe snacks and meals with you, in case you can't find anything safe to eat at your destination, carrying your epinephrine injector with you at all times, and being cautious of cross contamination when eating out, and always asking about the ingredients in your food.
There are some steps you can take before and during your travel to avoid a reaction to off-limits foods. Consider these additional must-dos during your next trip:-Talk to your doctor before you go and get a prescription for an EpiPen, just in case.-Pack plenty of safe snacks and foods that you know won't trigger a reaction.-Carry your EpiPen with you at all times, and make sure to pack it in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost.-When you're eating out, always ask about the ingredients in each dish, and be sure to let the waiter or chef know about your allergies.
When you dine out, be firm.
If you have food allergies and are worried about contamination, it may be easier to prepare your own meals during travel. However, dining out is a big part of the travel experience, so it makes sense to want to enjoy your trip as much as you can.
"It's crucial to let restaurants, hotels, airlines and tour guides know ahead of time about food allergies and items you and your kids have to avoid," said NYU Langone Health Allergy & Infections Diseases Doctor Purvi S. Parikh. "And keep reminding them."
"This is an area where having your food allergies spelled out in the language of the country you're visiting can help," Parikh says. Utilizing a travel journal or notepad for this reason explicitly can help take the stress out of trying to communicate when needed.
According to Dr. Marks-Cogan, you can save this information on your phone if you're worried about losing a physical card, piece of paper, or carrying along a notebook on all of your adventures.
"When you arrive at a restaurant, or if you are getting food from a stand, it is important to repeat your food allergies multiple times and ask questions to make sure the food you are eating does not contain the allergen of concern," she says. "Never feel bad about asking too many times!"
Whenever possible, it can be beneficial to speak to the chef directly about your food allergy information. That way, your information won't get mixed up before you receive your meal.
Ask how your food was cooked as well.
"Telling restaurants about specific foods you're allergic to, such as eggs, nuts or shellfish, may not be enough," said Doctor Sudeep Singh of Apprize Medical. "You also have to ask how your food was prepared and cooked, especially when it comes to what kind of oil was used."
Approximately 1.8% of the U.S. population has a peanut allergy, yet Dr. Singh says that peanut oil is commonly used in restaurants for frying and sauting.
"In my clinical experience, I have had patients that have ended up in the ICU on a ventilator to protect their airways from the anaphylactic reaction even after small exposure to a triggering food," Dr. Singh says. "If in doubt, don't eat it."
to see if they will allow you to bring your pet on the plane
Before you travel with your pet, check with your airline to see if they have any restrictions on bringing animals on the plane.
Pendleton suggests that you communicate with your airline well in advance of your trip, as many carriers are willing to accommodate food allergies by not serving items like nuts on flights. Your airline might also be willing to make an announcement about the presence of allergies on your flight.
Pendleton recommends communicating with airlines before booking to see what accommodations they are willing to make. Contact your airline at least 48 hours prior to your flight so the carrier has time to make arrangements with crew, if necessary. You can also request a special meal, such as an allergen meal, gluten-free meal or non-lactose meal, from your airline typically within 48 hours.
She says that you can also communicate with passengers who are seated around you about eating unsafe foods. Although it is up to them what they decide to do with that information, you can ask them to refrain from eating unsafe foods in your vicinity.
'She says that ultimately, these tips come back to open communication and self-advocacy.'
If you take the right precautions and plan ahead, traveling with food allergies doesn't have to be scary.