Monday, 16 February 2015

Travelling with allergies

Travelling is a stressful prospect at the best of times. People always look forward to their holiday but when it gets closer it's the worry of forgetting last minute things such as sun-tan lotion or extra underwear. For an allergic person it's a lot more complicated than that. It's the worry of going to another country where they may speak a different language altogether or allergies may not be as widely known about. It's the worry of "what if" and the stress of making sure that there is enough medication to last the holiday. Here's some useful tips on travelling for those with allergies.

1. Make sure you have a supply of medication
Particularly if you are travelling on a plane this is important. The rule I usually follow is have 2 lots of medication. So for example 4 epi-pens instead of the usual 2. The reason for the 2 sets is in case something were to go wrong and you misplaced one set. Particularly where epi-pens are concerned, if they're left in heat past a certain temperature they may not work as efficiently so it's always good to have an extra supply.

2. Have adequate travel insurance
If travelling somewhere within the EU (European Union) or the USA it is vital to have travel insurance. I think a lot of people assume allergies don't need to be covered by insurance but you don't want to be caught out in the unfortunate incident of ending up requiring medical care and potentially ending up with a large medical bill. When travelling within the EU it is a good idea to get a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). These are free to get as long as you do not need them fast tracked and entitle you to free or reduced cost health care within most European Union countries. When travelling to the USA there are many companies offering health insurance, it is a good idea to shop around.

3. Have a note of your details
An idea is to have a note of your details written on either card or a piece of paper in case of an emergency. If you are going to another country a good idea would be to have this written in not only English but the country's language too. Due to one of the symptoms of anaphylaxis often being difficulty in breathing and/or speaking it can often be great for the emergency services and other people when trying to convey necessary information across. Ideas of things to write down are:
  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address 
  • GP name and address
  • Next of Kin contact
  • Medication
  • Allergies
You could also put a note of things like any consultants you are under as well as how your allergies affect you (such as anaphylaxis, rash, vomiting etc.)

4. Have a doctor's letter
This is particularly important if you are travelling on a plane somewhere. Sometimes airlines can be very picky about letting people take medication on board if there is no doctor's letter stating you need it, in particular if it needs to be carried in hand luggage. Due to the ban on liquids over 100ml being in place on a lot of flights airlines are reluctant to let people carry liquid medication if it's over 100ml. An example of this would be liquid piriton.

5. Have an emergency plan
No one wants to be caught in an emergency situation, particularly on holiday, but it's always a good idea to have a plan in place if anything were to happen. Have a note of what the local emergency services number is (you can find this on google). Another good idea is to know where the nearest medical centre is (in case you need medical help but it's not a dire emergency) as well as the nearest hospital with an emergency department.

6. If going to a country with a different language get translation cards
It can be difficult enough to communicate in a foreign country if you don't have allergies but allergies make it a whole lot more difficult. An idea would be to get translation cards with the chosen language on them to make portraying important information across. It would be good to have what you're allergic to written in that language as well as what to do if you were to have a reaction (for example call the emergency services).

7. Plan ahead for eating
If possible try to get somewhere self-catering, this really helps out when it comes to allergies as you know exactly what would be going in to the food you are consuming and cooking. If this is not possible then make the place you are staying in aware of your dietary requirements. Make sure the remind the waiting staff at every meal so as to make sure nothing that will cause a problem comes in to contact with foods. Look up well-known food places within the country you are going to be staying and find out the locations of them. Making a list of safe places can be a really good idea. Seeking advice from other's who are well-known to allergies via social media (facebook, forums etc.) is also a good idea.

1 comment:

  1. Great advice, thanks! I've travelled a lot and don't have allergies, but my toddler does, and it's a real learning curve.