Tips For Travelling With Nut Allergies
May 13, 2014|Posted in: Advice
Now some of you may already know, but I have a pretty severe allergy to Walnuts and Pecans (yes, I know, I like being oddly specific). And when I say severe, I mean, full blown anaphylactic shock, looking like something out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, can’t breathe, sort of severe. In other words, it can be fatal. BUT, this is only the case if I’m not prepared. And (sorry, mum!) but whilst in the UK, this is pretty much exactly how I am. Unprepared. I constantly forget to pack my Epipen, the one thing on this Earth that could save my life, because sometimes, that huge needle just doesn’t fit in my tiny, tiny handbag!
However, whenever I travel abroad I am very aware that food standards and labelling can differ wildly from the UK, and so I never know for sure what has been placed into that tempting chocolate brownie or yummy curry dish. So, I’m pretty aware that I need to carry my Epipen around with me.
However, this can be one hell of a pain – especially when the airport security stops you for thinking you’re carrying a weapon! But, once you’ve explained what it is they are usually okay about it – as I’m sure they’d rather me have it, than someone open up a bag of mixed nuts in the seat next to me and I die mid-flight…(morbid!)
So, here are a few tips for travelling with nut allergies, to make your trip safe and hopefully help to avoid any sort of allergic reactions!
1) ALWAYS carry around you’re medication. Seriously, just popping down the road to grab a snack from the food stall – take it! Going out climbing to the top of a mountain – take it! And this doesn’t just mean your Epi-pen, as this could also include steroid tablets and antihistamines. I’m usually pretty good at realising when I’ve eaten something bad (tingling lips) and a hard dose of Piriton usually kicks it back!
2) Make sure you have back-ups. I’m awful at this, but check use-by dates. Yes, even Epipen’s have them, and usually they don’t last very long!
3) Make sure you are travelling with someone that knows how to use an Epipen or tell them where to locate the pen if you cannot reach for it! There’s got to be nothing worse than being unable to tell someone you have medication in the backpack a few metres from you when you’re throat is closing up!
4) If you are travelling alone, make sure you have some way of showing people that you do have allergies i.e. a dog tag or bracelet with all information on it. I’ve seen a wide variety of company’s offering ‘translation cards’ which you would hand over to inform people around you if you are unable to speak the language.
5) Ensure your travel insurance covers allergies. Most do, but it is always best to double check!
6) It’s so tempting to ‘eat like a local’ and this is generally a part of the experience whilst travelling, however food safety standards vary differently in every country as I mentioned before, and in some countries ‘nut allergies’ are rarely heard of. In some Chinese foods, peanut oil is used extensively and using the same pan for different meals is pretty common and so cross contamination is pretty likely. So, just be wary.
7) If you think you’re having a reaction, trust your gut and react. Better safe than sorry!
Have you ever had an allergic reaction whilst abroad? If so, let me know what happened! Or do you have any other tips for travelling with any other sort of allergies?
Amy is the founder of thewanderlustadventures.com. Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!