Allie of Miss Allergic Reactor shared some super helpful Tips for Traveling with Life-Threatening Allergies—and she’s back again to give us all the details about traveling with your food allergy friend! Here’s Allie with all the info:
Some of my favorite trips have been with friends roaming across the globe. Even with my food allergies, we refuse to let them inhibit enjoying the most magnificent adventures together. Those of us living with food allergies are likely your most adaptable travel friends.
We’ve learned over time to make anything work when we have to. We rarely get hangry because we pack snacks. We are good in any sort of bind and know how to roll with the misadventures.
Since there are now approximately 32 million Americans with food allergies and adult-onset food allergies continue to rise, the likelihood that you know someone that is affected by them or will be is pretty high.
Here are tips for the next time you travel with someone with food allergies!
We are not trying to complicate plans.
The last thing we want to do is to make travel plans complicated. Even after years of traveling all over the world, there are still some things I need to research and plan ahead. This is to help feel safe and allergic reaction-free. It doesn’t mean I want it to affect our plans, dictate everything we do or travel differently because of my food allergies.
Occasionally there may be something that is out of my comfort zone. If we are good friends I am willing to step out and embrace it, knowing you are by my side for positive reinforcement. The likelihood of having a reaction when taking precautions is not high but because it is always a possibility, it remains in the back of our minds.
Keep unsafe snacks separate.
When we are sharing accommodations, we appreciate it when you keep your snacks separate from ours. Most of us feel okay with you eating snacks that we can’t. We do appreciate having them in a different space from where we are eating or making food though. Also, washing your hands after you eat your snack keeps us extra safe.
We appreciate that you asked us about how to use an EpiPen.
Although we’re hoping for no emergencies, I truly appreciate when my friends want to know where my medicine is and what they need to do in case of an emergency. It’s nice to have friends who get it and that I can trust to help me if I ever need it.
We don’t want you to worry.
Sometimes I find my friends are more protective and worry, even when I’m not concerned. I love how protective they can be and they want me to always be safe, but I want them to trust my decisions. The last thing I want anybody to do is to worry about what I eat. Relax and enjoy, friends. I appreciate you but I’ve got this!
Sometimes it’s okay to help us out.
On one trip to the picturesque coastal town of Amalfi, Italy, I was standing in front of a gelato stand with my friend, Melissa, trying to order. The woman taking my order did not understand my Italian explanation to clean the scoop.
I looked over at Melissa who had been living in Italy for a few years at this point. She reiterated my explanation and finally, communication was understood.
If you can help and we are stuck, please jump in!
Please don’t tell us scary stories.
It happens all too often that people are well-intentioned and don’t realize how upsetting it can be to share a story of someone who died from an allergic reaction. We are glad that you can connect with the severity of food allergies but we don’t like hearing those stories, especially when we are eating.
It makes us feel anxious and when we feel anxious it is easy to think we are having an allergic reaction, even when we’re not.
Be supportive of our decisions to eat or not.
Sometimes my decisions about eating or not eating won’t make sense to anyone else. More often than not, it is a gut feeling which has saved me multiple times throughout my life. I trust myself at this point to know how I feel about trying a food. Even if you are well-intentioned, don’t try to convince us to try something.
I will eat if I feel comfortable but ultimately I have to decide.
Sometimes a grocery store may just be easier than dining out.
Finding whole foods and familiar items is just easier sometimes. It can be exhausting to travel with food allergies. Sometimes I’m tired of asking about ingredients and it’s easier to find something at the grocery store. This does not mean that you also need to.
We are happy to sit with you while you dine out (and we’ll have a drink), however after days of being on the go and asking questions, we may just need a break. As someone who has been to grocery stores in 30+ countries, I know what I can typically find and we’ll make it as quick of a trip as possible.
Share your experience with us because we’re curious about what we can’t eat.
For many, a huge part of traveling is trying food in other countries. For us, it can be challenging to try the food of the culture we are visiting. We want to learn about it though. Tell us about what you’re eating. Describe it for us. We can live vicariously through your experience when you share.
Still invite us to travel—we like good travel buddies like you!
As someone who now travels alone frequently for work, I always appreciate a good travel buddy when I have the opportunity. I’ve been fortunate throughout the years to have a number of amazing travel friends. They don’t see me as the friend with food allergies but instead the fun, curious and adventurous travel buddy that I am.
They understand my food allergies are just something I have to deal with, not something that defines me.