Have you always wanted to travel more but have been afraid to venture afar because you have severe allergies or asthma? If so, there are a number of steps you can take that will allow you to discover new destinations while still staying safe.
Really Know Your Allergies
If your allergies have never been formally diagnosed, make an appointment with an allergy clinic so you can discover exactly which items you are truly sensitive to. You might be surprised to learn you aren't actually allergic to some items you thought you were, but sensitive to other materials you had no idea about. Knowing what your allergy triggers are will make it much easier to avoid them while on the road.
Take Charge of Your Food
Do you have severe food allergies? Then your best bet when traveling is to do your own cooking. This is especially true if you will be journeying to foreign countries where they may not understand the complexities of your food allergies.
For example, a restaurant in a developing country may not understand that your nut allergies restrict you from eating dishes that were cooked with utensils that were used for a peanut dish. So consider:
- Booking accommodations with full kitchens so that you can cook your own meals in your room.
- Choose your destinations carefully. Some countries, such as Thailand, use nuts in many of their dishes. So if you have a nut allergy, you will need to take extra care when ordering out.
- Buy or create allergy translation cards in the language of the country you will be visiting. These cards, which describe your specific allergies, can be shown to the staff at restaurants and at grocery stores.
Bring Medication with You
Always make sure to carry your medications -- especially rescue medicines such as epinephrine pens or asthma inhalers -- with you. Don't pack them in your checked luggage. In addition, you should also:
- Obtain a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care plan from your allergy clinic and keep copies of it with you. You may also want to consider scanning a copy and storing it on the cloud or on a mobile device so that you can have access to if you should lose your hard copy.
- Ask the allergy clinic doctor for prescriptions you can carry with you in case you lose your allergy or asthma relief medications while traveling.
- Carry a note from your allergy clinic doctor that describes the medication you are carrying just in case you are questioned by TSA agents.
As part of your pre-trip planning, take the time to locate the names and contact information of hospitals and allergy specialists for the destination you are planning to visit.
You should also look into purchasing travel insurance, which may cover your expenses if you should have a medical emergency while abroad. Depending on your coverage, travel insurance could also pay for your trip if a severe allergy reaction should abruptly end your vacation.
The more people that are aware of your asthma and allergy conditions, the better. So if you are traveling with a group or on a cruise ship, for example, inform the tour operator or your guide that you may need immediate help if you should go into anaphylactic shock or suffer a severe asthma attack.
Certainly, traveling when you have severe allergies or asthma can be tricky, but you shouldn't let them stop you from discovering the beauty of this world. By taking precautions and being proactive, you, too, can enjoy a life filled with adventures to new and exciting destinations.