By the Allergy Quebec team

Accommodation, plane tickets, travel insurance, emergency medication… The list of things to think about when traveling with food allergies can seem endless. Here are a few essentials to help you plan your next trip abroad without forgetting anything.

Choose a travel destination suited to your situation

The first step in planning a trip is choosing your destination. It’s important to know that certain types of travel are better suited to allergen management. Here are a few examples:

  • Essentials for the informed allergic travelerCruises: some companies offer their passengers meals adapted to their health condition if they are informed in advance.
  • Walt Disney theme parks: a family destination par excellence, Walt Disney is brimming with restaurants, most of which offer allergen-free menus on request.
  • All-inclusive: this type of trip can be an interesting option, as long as the targeted hotel offers the possibility of an allergen-free menu. However, you’ll need to contact each establishment individually to find out what measures are in place.

When it comes to choosing your next travel destination, food allergy forums are a great help. You’ll undoubtedly find interesting information on places to visit – or to avoid – if you’re allergic. You can also consider consulting a travel agent, who can take steps on your behalf to identify safe destinations, hotels and restaurants.

Inform your airline of your allergies

Did you know that in Canada, airlines must comply with certain safety requirements for allergy sufferers? If you request it, the carrier must:

  • Establish an allergen-free buffer zone around your seat.
  • Inform passengers seated in the buffer zone of your allergies so that they avoid eating food that could cause you an allergic reaction.
  • Allow you to board before the others, if you wish, so that you can clean your seat and eliminate all traces of allergens.

Please note, however, that to take advantage of these accommodations, you must inform the carrier at least 48 hours before departure, and provide any documents the carrier may require (for example, a copy of an epinephrine prescription, a medical certificate, etc.).

You should also consider bringing your epinephrine auto-injector and other emergency medication (for example, inhalers) in your hand luggage, as well as safe snacks, since carriers are not obliged to offer these, although some do. Don’t hesitate to contact your airline to find out about its food allergy management policy.

Don’t forget your travel insurance policy

For peace of mind, subscribe to a travel insurance policy before you leave. The policy you choose should include emergency medical care.

Also, be sure to tell your insurer about any allergies you may have, as well as any pre-existing medical conditions (for example, asthma, recent surgery, heart problems, etc.).

Eligibility conditions and premiums vary from one insurer to another. So take the time to store around for your travel insurance policy.

Find out about emergency services at your destination

Before you leave, it’s best to know the telephone numbers of the emergency services in the country you’ll be visiting, since 9-1-1 is not a universal emergency number. To reach emergency services in Australia, for example, dial 0-0-0, and in Italy 1-1-8.

The table below lists emergency numbers and local reference organizations according to the country visited:

CountryEmergency serviceLocal reference organization for food allergies
United States9-1-1Food Allergy Research & Education
Australia0-0-0Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia
Italy1-1-8Food Allergy Italia
United Kingdom9-9-9Anaphylaxis UK
Brazil1-9-2Põe no rótulo (in Portuguese)
Japan1-1-9Food Allergy Association of Japan
Spain1-1-2Asociación Española de Personas con Alergia a Alimentos
New Zealand1-1-1Allergy New Zeland

For more information about emergency services, as well as standards and policies for managing food allergies abroad, consider contacting the food allergy awareness organization(s) present in the country you are visiting. In addition to answering your questions, these associations will inform you about local particularities related to food allergy management (for example, priority allergens, food allergen labeling requirements, etc.).

Essentials for the informed allergic traveler

Bonus: create memorable souvenirs

Once you’ve planned your trip, all you have to do is board the plane and let yourself be carried to your destination. There, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your getaway, share magical moments with loved ones and create unforgettable memories… in complete safety.

Enjoy your trip!

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Allergy Quebec

Food without fear

Allergy Quebec is a non-profit organization founded in 1990, whose mission is to promote safety and improve the quality of life of those living with food allergies.

In addition to offering relevant, daily-updated content, the association provides information, support, education, training and awareness programs. A free telephone support line is also available to all. 

To visit our website, which offers a wealth of advice, click HERE.

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