Traveling Safely with Allergies
Holiday season usually means lots of travel and road trips for families. And for anyone with allergies that means taking along needed medications and also knowing what to avoid on the trip.
If you’re driving to your holiday destination, take enough safe snacks to get you there. Keep the snacks and your child’s medications in a bag or container that’s handy. Be sure to bring your own epinephrine auto-injectors with a few extras just in case and be careful not to leave it in the car where it might become overheated or freeze.
It is also a good idea to carry a phone list of your food-allergic child’s doctors and an emergency contact number of someone near home who could answer questions about your child if you become ill and are unable to speak for them. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but knowing where the location and phone number of the emergency department nearest your destination could save valuable minutes.
If you’re flying, call the airline and ask about their allergy policy before you book your ticket.
When you book your flight, make sure to tell the reservations agent about your allergies, and what specific accommodations you need. Book a flight that’s earlier in the day, because the planes get cleaned overnight. Nuts are rarely served early in the day, so you have a better chance of avoiding nut allergen on seats and in seat pockets.
Bring your auto-injectors and/or asthma medications with you on the plane. Ask your doctor for a letter authorizing you to carry medications on the plane. Security requires that your medications show a prescription label in the name of the patient/traveler.
Tell everyone you deal with – the check-in agent, the staff at the gate, the flight attendants – about your child’s allergies. Even if the booking agent said you will be accommodated, play it safe and make sure everyone knows.
Bring your own food. Don’t eat meals prepared by the airline’s caterers, even if a flight attendant tells you there are no nuts or other allergens. You don’t know if there has been cross-contamination in the preparation. Bring extra food in case of delays.
More information about traveling with medications is available from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
If you or someone traveling with you has asthma and uses a peak flow meter, be sure to bring it along on your trip, with the chart that’s used to record results.
To protect against dust mites, pack your own allergy-proof pillow or mattress casings. Avoid offending relatives or friends who may think you do not consider them good housekeepers by explaining the allergenic affects. If you have acute asthma and allergy conditions, consider wearing a medical alert-type necklace or bracelet at all times.
If you’re traveling in areas where pollen or mold is high, carry your asthma inhaler with you and be on guard to take necessary precautions.
It’s good to know exactly what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements are for passengers who have asthma or allergies. Be sure that you clearly understand what is expected of you to avoid any problems or delays when traveling by air.