When I was in college, I was first diagnosed with a gluten allergy. Now, I have around 50 allergies in total. As an avid traveler, I never wanted my food allergies to deter me from visiting new places and experiencing all that this world has to offer. I know firsthand how stressful and overwhelming it can be to travel with food allergies. However, with the proper planning and packing, you can enjoy your trip while staying safe and healthy! In this blog post, I’m sharing my 7 essentials for traveling with food allergies. These are the exact items I pack every time I take a trip. Let’s dive in!
Life Lessons From Traveling With Food Allergies
There’s no doubt that traveling with food allergies isn’t the easiest feat. However, I choose to look at my travel experiences with food allergies as life lessons. When traveling with food allergies, you have to learn to be flexible and do your best to overcome the fear. You grow not only in your skills of traveling with food allergies, but also in your confidence. Having an allergic reaction is a scary reality that those of us with food allergies have to plan and prepare for before traveling. However, learning to travel safely and still enjoy experiences is an important life skill that will stay with you forever.
When traveling with food allergies, you also learn to focus more on the experiences, memories, and people you’re with than the foods you may be missing out on. This helps you stay more present and grounded throughout your trip.
7 Essentials For Traveling With Food Allergies
Going on a trip isn’t the easiest for a family with food allergies. However, I’ve learned that by packing a few necessary items, you can feel more prepared, safe, and confident. Check out my list of 7 things I pack when traveling with food allergies.
#1: Food Allergy Chef Cards
I like to pack Food Allergy Chef Cards not only in the local language of the country I’m visiting but also in English. Getting a card made with your safe meal shown on the card in addition to your food allergy card can help restaurant or hospitality staff narrow in on what you can have instead of trying to think through the whole menu to find what is safe for you to eat. If you’d like to learn more about Food Allergy Chef Cards, you can read about them in depth in this blog.
#2: Medication, EpiPens, & Doctor Notes
Medication can be different overseas with different inactive ingredients. Therefore, it’s better to pack any medication you might need to be safe with you. Having multiple EpiPens with you is best when traveling. Spread them out amongst everyone’s bags so if a bag gets stolen or lost, you have backups. Never put EpiPens in checked bags, only in carry-ons. It’s also important to have a doctor note stating what your allergies are and what medications and EpiPens are necessary for your safety. This doctor note can go a long way if questions arise, like at TSA or when you are requesting to pre-board and wipe down the seats on an airplane.
#3: Shampoo, Lotion, & Body Care Items
Food allergies extend beyond the table and are often present in many hair and body care items. Bringing your own shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, and other body care items ensures there are no surprises when you are using hotel amenities. A good rule of thumb is, if it touches your skin, bring your own. Breaking out in rashes or having an anaphylactic reaction isn’t worth the risk.
#4: Safe Food / Cooking Tools
According to Your Europe, if you are traveling to Europe from a non-European country, you can’t bring meat or dairy products with you in your suitcase. However, you can bring a limited quantity of some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, eggs and egg products, honey, and restricted amounts of fish and fish products. If you are traveling from one European country to another, it is legal to carry your own meat or dairy products in your suitcase if it is intended for your own personal consumption. This rule also applies to plants or plant products, such as fruits and vegetables. If you plan to visit multiple countries, it may be helpful to shop locally and then carry those foods with you throughout your travels.
Depending on the type of accommodation you booked, if you plan on doing your own cooking, bringing or buying cooking boards and spatulas upon arrival are best to avoid cross contamination and add an extra barrier of safety.
Sometimes when I get to the accommodation, after reviewing the items there, I will purchase a pan or a pot just to be extra safe, or I will double clean the existing ones along with the plates, bowls, silverware, and any other utensils or dinnerware I’ll be using.
You can also bring in your own stash of those harder to find items like safe bread, snacks, and non-perishable foods that can be carried in your suitcase.
*Always check current regulations around allowed food before traveling from the United States or even crossing borders in Europe, as regulations can change at any time.
#5: Temperature-Controlled Pouch for EpiPen
If you are journeying to a location that has hot weather, make sure you keep the epipens at the right temperature to avoid overheating in a temperature-controlled pouch. The same goes if you are traveling to a location with cold weather, as you don’t want it to freeze.
#6: Wipes & Hand Sanitizer
As mentioned before, food allergies are not only present in foods, but also on seats, tables, etc. Be sure to carry wipes and hand sanitizer so you can clean the airplane or train seat, restaurant tables, menus, and more. Make it a point to keep your hands clean and practice frequent and thorough hand washing during your trip as well.
#7: Portable Phone Battery
A portable phone battery is one of my favorite things to pack when traveling with food allergies. It’s important to make sure your phone is always charged so you can access the restaurants you researched beforehand or through my Restaurant Research service.
Not only that, but having a charged phone is important so you can use Google Maps, make emergency calls if needed, and more. Every phone provider has different plans. Some offer a $10/ day plan while others have various pricing depending on your location and length of stay.
BONUS: Sweatshirt, Long Sleeve Shirt, or Cardigan
Last up on my list of essentials for traveling with food allergies is a sweatshirt, long sleeve shirt, or cardigan. On travel days, I like to wear one of these types of clothing items to provide an extra barrier between myself and the seat area, which could carry food allergens and residues. Plus, it keeps me warm on chilly flights, which is an added bonus!
I hope this list of 7 things to pack when traveling with food allergies helps you feel prepared, safe, and confident for your next getaway. If you’d like to feel even more comfortable and supported in your food allergy travels, visit my contact page to book a consultation call to learn more about my full-service travel planning and food allergy travel services.