Remember: Allergy Translation Cards are only one of many precautions you should take when traveling with allergies. Translation cards are a tool that helps to manage risk and must be combined with other strategies to ensure safe dining. Do as much research about your destination ahead of time and be on high alert at all times during your trip.
Before your Trip
- Print out several copies of your Allergy Translation Card to ensure you will always have one in a convenient location or in case you lose one. Save it as an image on your smartphone as well.
- Research the country’s local cuisine in order to familiarize yourself with possible dangerous dishes, spices, and sauces.
- Educate your family and traveling companions on all the issues. This includes what not to order, how to provide emergency treatment, what to look for in a reaction as well as knowing where you keep emergency information (e.g. emergency contact info, insurance card, and doctor’s name).
- Check expiration dates on medicine before you go.
- Write down emergency numbers for the foreign country.
- Research your hotel’s food options.
- www.foodallergyalliance.org is a site with links to organizations in North America, Europe and Asia. The site can point you to food labelling regulations among other food policies.
- If carrying epinephrine, make sure it is labeled verifying that it belongs to you. It is also recommended to get a doctor’s note to prove it is needed on-board the aircraft.
- Pack enough of your own flight food to reach your destination.
- Contact the airline and inform them of your allergy ahead of time and inquire about their allergy policy.
During your Trip
- Do not assume foods that are safe at home are safe abroad. Different ingredients can be used for varying international tastes (e.g. peanut butter to thicken chili).
- Call restaurants in advance. This gives you the opportunity to tell a restaurant about your allergies ahead of time and ask questions about their safe options.
- Use common sense to avoid restaurants where cross-contamination could easily occur such as going to a seafood restaurant with a shellfish allergy.
- If you have printed many copies of your Allergy Translation Card, tell the wait staff to give one to the chef to reinforce the seriousness of your allergies.
- Carry at least 2 doses of epinephrine with you at all times.
- Most importantly, enjoy yourself but be safe!
After your Trip
- Had experiences that would help others with the same dietary restriction? Start a blog or contribute valuable information to others on message boards or forums.