1. Brush up on your geography
Research your desired destination, including its type of cuisine, health care options and the language spoken. You may want to avoid certain destinations if the risk for allergic reaction is too great.
2. Stock up on your meds
Discuss your travel plans with your doctor and ensure you have all the medicine you need including antihistamines, inhalers and epinephrine injectors. Get a letter from your doctor authorizing the medications and carry it with you to prevent delays at security checkpoints.
Air Canada allows passengers to carry medication in original, labelled containers. Syringes or needles (i.e. EpiPen) for personal medical use are allowed onboard provided the needle guards are intact and that they are accompanied by the prescription medication with a printed label identifying the medication name and the issuing medical office or pharmacy.
Also, it's important to check with your airline for in-flight dietary accommodations before you book, and most airlines ask at booking if you have any dietary restrictions.
3. Carry an allergy translation card
Also known as a "chef" card, an allergy translation card is a small credit card-sized dietary card that is used to communicate your food allergies or special diet when travelling in a foreign country. Websites such as allergytranslation.com create personalized translation cards for about $8 -- all you have to do is select your food allergy and the language of your travel destination, then print off as many cards as you require. These cards are very useful when you're eating at restaurants in a foreign country.
4. Avoid buffet-style dining
The risk of cross-contamination is greater at a buffet, says Lisa Schoenfeld, allergy specialist with Allergies Freed in Brantford, Ont. "If you are not sure what the food is, or what's in it or how it's prepared, don’t try it."
However, don't be afraid to try new foods -- just do it one food at a time and wait 24 hours before trying something new again. "This helps to better identify the food that may have caused a reaction, if one does occur," says Schoenfeld.
5. If you’re on a cruise
Several of the major cruise lines are able to accommodate dietary requests. Make sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork beforehand, and when on board the ship, befriend the kitchen and dining staff. It might be helpful to be consistent when it comes to where you sit and the times you choose to eat -- it will make it easier for the staff to identify you and care for your special diet needs.
More quick tips:
6. Carry hand wipes or sanitizer in case access to running water and soap isn't convenient.
7. If you can, bring "safe" food on your trip. Ideally, rent accommodations with a kitchenette so you are able to prepare your own dishes.
8. Ensure your travel companions know how to administer your emergency treatment. Also, let them know where you keep your insurance information and emergency contacts, such as your doctor's phone number.
For more travel tips, visit caamagazine.ca.