It is estimated that approximately 15 million Americans have food allergies. I just so happen to be one of those people. Traveling with food allergies isn't something every traveler needs to consider, but for those who do, we've got a few tips and tricks to share that can help you avoid a potential health crisis during your travels.
Prepare a Food Allergy Card
A food allergy card (also known as a chef card) is a way to communicate with chefs, servers, restaurant managers or anyone else what your food allergies may be. Some people might carry a chef card in their primary language to easily present when in situations where food is present. If you're a frequent international traveler, I highly recommend preparing a Food Allergy Card for every language you will likely encounter.
Thrifty Tip #1: Need a template? Check out one of my favorite Food Allergy Card template provided by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).
Using Google Translate to Help Translate Foods
I do speak a few languages, but I definitely don't speak the language of every country I visit. I use Google Translate to help translate foods or things I'm allergic to. Although translations are not guaranteed for full sentences, one-word translations like foods are fairly accurate.
Bring Extra Printed Copies with You on Your Trip
You will want printed copies of your chef card as sometimes the card will be passed onto the chef. There have been numerous instances where I have left a copy of the card in a restaurant or food stop. Keep extra copies of your allergy cards in case this happens. You can even laminate these for extra durability.
Keep a Digital Copy of Your Cards on your phone.
For those times you lose your card or need to show it on the fly, be sure to keep a copy of your Food Allergy card on your phone. I keep copies of them saved right on my phone's photo album as I may not always have the ability to access my email or other sites if I'm limited on data or have no WiFi access.
Peanut Allergies, Special Meals & Planes
For those who have food allergies (especially peanut allergies), many airlines now give you the option to report those allergies prior to the flight. This will help in ensuring peanuts are not served on your flight or that any meals the crew prepares for you do not include any items you may be allergic to.
Thrifty Tip #2: Be sure to contact the airline in advance of your flight to inform them of your allergy. Each airline's procedures may differ. For instance, Delta provides you the ability to report your food allergy while booking.
Don't Forget Your Allergic Reaction Treatment or Prescribed Medications
If I have an allergic reaction, it may require the use of an Epi-Pen (as prescribed) or other medication. If you have any prescribed medications, be sure to bring these with you on your travels. Don't worry, you can carry on all prescriptions during your travels.
Food allergies can be very serious so it's best to be prepared while traveling. Having a Food Allergy Card prepared can immensely help with communication and mitigate the risk of coming into contact with foods you need to avoid.