Food Allergy Holiday Travel Guide

The holidays are here, and for many, that means taking a road trip back home to spend time with loved ones or flying to a long-anticipated vacation destination. While travel can be fun and exciting for some, for those with severe food allergies, it comes with its own challenges. Keep reading for our travel tips to ensure you arrive safely at your destination this year.

Airline Precautions

Boarding an airplane or any confined space with circulating air can be especially difficult with food allergies. Depending on the severity of your allergies, airborne allergens from mid-flight snacks can be enough to cause a life-threatening reaction. To prevent the risk of reaction, there are several essential steps you should take before you board your next flight.

Always call the airline before your flight. Inform the airline of your allergies and their severity to ensure the flight crew is appropriately briefed and can accommodate your needs. If airborne allergens are a concern, you may want to ask airline staff to refrain from serving foods with your allergens or even ask other passengers not to bring your allergens on board.

Spokin has a great list of safety tips and advice for flying with food allergies.

Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP) Patients

For our TIP patients concerned about traveling with their maintenance and treatment foods, we recommend you submit a request for a Travel Letter on TIPConnect. Our Travel letter can be shown to TSA to make getting through the airport a breeze!  Submit your request at least two weeks before your trip under the “Forms & Submissions” tab.

Arriving At Your Destination

After getting off the plane and collecting your bags, you’re going to need transportation to your destination. Rideshare apps are extremely convenient, but they may put you at heightened risk if you have food allergies. There’s no way to know what the driver or previous passengers have eaten in the car, or what traces may be left behind.

Ridesharing can be very dangerous for those with airborne or contact allergies. Instead, you should research other ride options available at the airport you are traveling to, such as car rentals or private driving companies. Call your rental company ahead of time to ensure your vehicle is properly cleaned, or bring your own cleaning supplies to wipe down frequently touched surfaces. 

It is also important to let your hotel know about your allergies. Many hotels stock their rooms with complimentary snacks containing allergens like peanuts or tree nuts. Informing hotel staff of your allergies before your arrival can protect you from any potential exposure or reactions!

International Travel

Traveling to another country requires extreme caution for food allergy families. Language barriers can make reading food labels and communicating your allergens incredibly challenging. Additionally, foods you may eat regularly at home may be prepared differently or contain one of your allergens in another country.

To safely navigate an international trip with food allergies, it is vital to learn how to say your specific allergens in the language of the country you travel to. Communicating with restaurant staff when you have allergies is crucial, but even more so when you are in an unfamiliar place where a different language is spoken. If speaking a foreign language is too intimidating or you want to avoid misunderstandings, print out a sheet with helpful words and phrases to inform staff of your dietary restrictions.

Road Trips

BRING YOUR EPIPEN!!! It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to carry an EpiPen with you at all times (for any method of transportation)! Even if you are careful, accidents can and do happen, so you need to be prepared in case of an allergic reaction.

Have an emergency plan. Identify a list of hospitals and medical providers along your route and at your destination in case of a severe reaction.

Make sure everyone is aware of your food allergies. If you’re traveling with people other than your immediate family, they may not know what they can or cannot eat around you. Educate all passengers about your allergies to help ensure your safety throughout the road trip.

Pack safe snacks. Be sure to take your favorite snacks from your pantry at home before you leave. Convenience stores along your route may not have any allergy-friendly options.

Make stops along your route. You may want to stop along the way for longer or scenic road trips. Whether you stop at a restaurant, a rest stop, or an amusement park, eating will likely be involved, especially in a group setting. For tips on eating out with food allergies, check out our 5 Tips on Dining Out Safely with Food Allergies!

Traveling with food allergies can be anxiety-inducing, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow the tips above you can have amazing and safe trips this holiday season. Safe travels and happy holidays!

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