Traveling Internationally with Food Allergies
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Monday, January 08, 2018
By Suzanne
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Traveling out of the country can be scary enough with language barriers, but if you or a loved one has a life threatening food allergy it can be even scarier. There are times when the best choice is to stay closer to home or choose countries where the native language is English. But, with the right preparation you can successfully explore our entire world and keep safe with allergies. We've done it many times and you can too! Here are my favorite tips for keeping safe during travel: 

Plan ahead! Learn as much as you can about the local diet and what key ingredients are. Work with a native speaker to put together allergy cards that explain in full detail what the allergy is and the seriousness of it. Be detailed. For example, do not just list a milk allergy, also say that it the allergy is to butter, cheese, cream and all products made with milk or cooked with milk. Also include on the card that you would like to speak to an English speaking manager or chef, if possible. Take lots of copies of the cards, you might not get your copy back in a restaurant.
 
Work with your doctor to take along extra medicines - epi pens, antihistamines, steroids, etc. Be prepared to deal with as much of the emergency yourself as possible if you cannot avoid the emergency all together. Also, do your homework in advance about where the nearest western style hospital is in relation to where you are staying. It doesn't hurt to have a native language card available that explains that an emergency allergic reaction is taking place and you need to get to the hospital immediately. 
 
Take lots of pre-packaged safe snacks. Part of the fun of traveling to new places is trying new food but there are going to be times when you just are not sure and it's helpful to have treats and snacks on hand just in case. 
 
Use google translate. If you like to look around in local markets and grocery stores you can often input an ingredient list and get a good enough understanding of what's in something to make a decision about trying it. Keep in mind that many other countries do not adhere to the same manufacturing and labeling standards that we do in the US. Each family will have to make their own decision about eating something from the grocery store. And, just like at home, keeping to simple, single ingredient foods are a great way to go! Try out those exotic fruits at the market! 
 
Don't shy away from amazing family experiences because of food allergies. World travel can be done and lifetime memories created. 
 
Travel. Travel often. Travel with kids. 
 
-Suzanne
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