Allergy Awareness Week is an annual campaign by AllergyUK that aims to raise awareness about allergies and living with them. The awareness campaign is ongoing, running from 23rd April to 29th April. This year’s awareness week is designed to focus on travelling with allergies and what issues are faced by people who suffer from an allergy when travelling. AllergyUK has shared a lot of good advice on the topic, and be sure to check their site for more, including their early 2018 flying with allergy survey.
Do you travel a lot?
Do you find yourself plagued by allergies whenever you enter a new environment?
Do you worry that you might be in danger when travelling to new places?
Travelling is no simple feat when you or a loved one suffers from allergies. When you are at home, it is much simpler since you already have everything you need set up. Everyone around you is accustomed to the routine and knows just what to do in case something goes wrong. When travelling, you don’t have these systems and networks set up.
From getting on a plane to entering a new environment to staying in unfamiliar lodgings, the dangers of allergy triggers abound. There are many different challenges that you need to first be aware of, then work to overcome to avoid any untoward incidents - some of which could prove quite risky or even fatal.
It’s important to make a plan and be prepared.
Planning to travel overseas already includes so many different aspects. When you or someone you are responsible for has allergies, the list of things to consider becomes even longer. You must consider the following when booking a holiday in another country.
At home, it’s easy to tell staff at restaurants about allergies. In a foreign country, and even on a flight with foreign staff, it may not be so easy. A language barrier can be a difficult challenge that puts you in danger. You must prepare to effectively communicate the needs of someone with allergies, particularly when it comes to dangerous food allergies. AllergyUK recommends using Translation Cards that you can carry around and present whenever needed. It eliminates the language barrier and makes it easy for you to ensure safety without having to learn the language or risk making critical mistakes.
Different airlines have their own policies with regard to food allergy management. As policies vary, it is important to know what specific policies are maintained by your airline of choice. You must also confirm any restrictions before booking and officially inform your airline about them well in advance of your flight. This way, you are fully informed about any food items served that contain allergens or any other possible triggers.
In addition, you should inform airline staff of food allergies every chance you get, from the time that you check in for the flight, to the time that you board, and every time any type of food is served.
In case anything goes wrong on the flight and at your destination, you should always have a backup supply of snacks and simple meal substitutes with you. This means that you have to make the additional preparation of checking on the quarantine laws of the country that you will be visiting. They may have strict food restrictions that can get you into trouble or leave you without anything to eat.
If your allergies are triggered by contact allergens, be sure to clean your area and wash your hands to avoid contamination. Thoroughly wipe down your seat area and tray table, especially before eating or putting fingers in your mouth. The same cleaning ritual also applies for your hotel room and any place that you visit at your destination. To be safe, bring along your own hypoallergenic pillow and beddings, or at least a hypoallergenic pillow case, to avoid triggers - some of which you may not even know can cause your allergies.
Wherever you go, always have a copy of your Allergy Action plan with you so that it can be referred to by anyone assisting you or providing treatment in case of a bad reaction.
You must ensure that you can either carry a sufficient supply of allergy medications with you to your destination, or confirm that you will be able to purchase what you need when you get there. A good thing to note is that the 100ml limit on liquids carried in hand luggage does not apply to medications. To make carrying needed antihistamine syrups onto the plane go smoothly, prepare a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor that explains why you need to have this medication on hand. Prepare the same documentary proof for adrenaline auto-injector devices (AAI) or any other medications that you carry with you.
Access to emergency medical facilities
Before you book your flight, always research the areas that you will be visiting. Note down where you can get access to medical treatment in case you ever need it. Learn how to contact emergency care, and make sure that the language barrier does not get in the way of getting help when you need it. Translation cards that ask for help can also be useful here in addition to your allergy information cards.
In addition, you should also find out if these medical facilities will honour your insurance, and if your insurance provider themselves will cover any untoward incidents while you travel.
Travel within the UK
Even when you travel within the UK, there are certain things that you need to plan for. Take a look at this list from AllergyUK to help you prepare: