According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), more than 15 million Americans are living with a life-threatening food allergy, and every three minutes, a reaction sends someone to the hospital.
For this reason, many people with allergies are often afraid to go on vacation. They feel like managing allergies at home is hard enough. And someplace new comes with additional dangers and chances for cross-contamination.
But, safe and enjoyable vacations are possible, if you prepare. Inside this post, you will find tips for traveling safely with food allergies.
Pack your medicines and then, pack some more.
First things first.
In general, you never want to leave the house without a pair of epinephrine auto-injectors. You shouldn’t split them up. If the first one misfires or isn’t enough, you will need to inject a second dose.
For vacations, you never want to leave the house without two pairs of epinephrine auto-injectors. That way, if you do have a reaction, or misplace a set, you still have one more set to travel home with.
If you’re sharing a vehicle with family or friends, be vocal about your allergies. This part can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re traveling without family. But, it’s necessary. Help educate everyone on the signs and symptoms to watch out for.
Store your medicine where it can be quickly accessed in case of an emergency. If possible, leave it in its original packaging where your name and information are displayed. Also, have your insurance information and action plan available.
Research your stops.
Find Point A and Point B on your map and figure out a game plan for everything in between- bathroom breaks, food breaks, and hospitals too.
Depending on the state you’re traveling to, it’s possible there are welcoming centers with your allergen being offered out in the open. For example, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Texas are responsible for over 80% of peanut production. Some of their rest stops offer pecans and boiled peanuts. If you have a nut allergy, that’s not exactly the kind of thing you want to stumble upon. So, research your stops in advance.
Call ahead of time and find out if the hotel you’re booking accommodates guests with food allergies. Let them know exactly what you need like if you want your room cleaned twice before you arrive.
As an added precaution, always have your own wipes handy and give everything an extra wipe down before you bring in your luggage.
Save your wild side for all the adventuring you plan to do and stick to safe, familiar restaurants in the area to dine at. Don’t take a chance on something you haven’t tried before.
If you plan to stay for several days, book a room with a kitchen and appliances to cook all of your meals.
Use the help of apps.
If you do need help finding something in the area you’re staying at, there are apps to help you, like AllergyEats or Spokin. Both are peer-reviewed collections of tried and true allergy-friendly products and places to find across the United States. Users can look over menus, read reviews, and rate their own experiences for others to see.
In this generation of technology, anything and everything can be found online.
Bring extra snacks.
Traffic jams and detours happen. Life happens. Make sure you have enough safe snacks on hand to last you in between meals or in case you are unable to get to one of the points you planned.
On your road trip playlist, of course.
This one isn’t a “safety tip,” but it’s a road trip, isn’t it? Whether it’s Motown, Country, Classic Rock- or KidzBop- that you’re into, roll down the windows and press play. You’ve got everything else covered. Enjoy the ride.
Do you or someone you know have food allergies? What are some safety tips you practice when you’re out of town?