I have travelled extensively to 50 countries across 6 continents and consider myself a pretty savvy traveller. But going abroad with a food allergic toddler is a whole new experience!
Eating new foods and visiting local restaurants used to be an exciting part of my travels but now the idea fills me with dread. I want to keep exploring but need to take a lot more steps to protect J and plan ahead for travelling with food allergies.
We took J to visit family in America shortly after his diagnosis at 9 months and have just returned from a trip to France with an 18 month old J. Here are my top tips:
Food allergy travel insurance
It is important that you make sure your food allergies are covered by your travel insurance. You usually need to declare the allergy, if you are at risk of Anaphylaxis and any recent hospital stays. Some insurers will then choose not to cover you, ask you to ring up (if you have filled in the application online) and give more details, or offer you cover at an increased price.
We have used Media Travel Insurance for our recent trip to France and it cost £30 for 4 days. This is not that much, but still 4 times the original price! I have also heard good things about AA.
Medication and doctor’s note
It is important that you carry your medication with you everywhere. We have small travel bottles that we distil antihistamine into for our hand luggage and pack a full bottle in the hold. For the epipen, some people recommend a doctor’s note but we have been told that the repeat prescription letter with the patient’s name on it is enough. This time we travelled with the letter from the consultant which outlines J’s treatment plan, but no-one has asked for documentation on either trip.
Aeroplane nut bans
There has been a lot of controversy about nut bans and I recently wrote a post about the problems with nut bans. As J has multiple allergies, a nut ban doesn’t necessarily protect him but one less allergen onboard has to be a good thing. We flew with Easyjet who have a good nut ban policy and they made a short announcement after I informed cabin crew of J’s allergies. Check individual airlines for their policies.
Remember to clean your seat and tray table when you board and also to clean any carseat you hire. I didn’t think about this and J’s face swelled up on our car journey from the airport as a child must have eaten an allergen in the seat beforehand.
Allergy translation and emergency contacts
If you are travelling to a non-English speaking country then it is a good idea to get some allergy translation cards. These allow you to have a written translation of your allergies and useful phrases like ‘Does this contain…’ and ‘please call an ambulance’. Allergy UK produce these for a small fee, or we made our own with help from a French speaking friend.
I also read a great tip on MyItchyBoy blog to include translations of your child’s symptoms so you can communicate these to doctors in an emergency.
Also, make sure you have looked up the emergency numbers for the country you are visiting and have your address written down.
While it might not be possible to travel with a case of J’s favourite food – Mackarel! – we take some staples. These include his Alpro Soya Junior milk, snacks and refillable fruit pouches. It is worth noting that you can take up to 1 litre of soy milk in your hand luggage if it is for a baby who needs it for medical reasons.
It is easier to focus on buying fresh produce than having to read multiple labels in a foreign language. It is worth paying for an overseas data plan though as Google translate allows you take a picture of a label and it will translate all the text.
What are your top tips for travelling abroad with food allergies?