How many Epi-pens should I travel with for a 2-week trip?
We recommend taking a minimum of 2 Epi-pens with you when travelling but as a traveller with anaphylaxis travelling for a 2-week trip its best to try and take 2-4.
What about taking other medications with you like Benadryl while travelling?
The best rule to live by is to take all your medication with you when travelling. In general, it probably won’t be that simple to obtain certain medications in a foreign country. For example; in Israel, Benadryl isn’t a medication you can buy over the counter- it requires a prescription from a Doctor and can be hard to obtain.
Is there anything else I should know about my medication before travelling?
Bear in mind the weather in the country you are travelling and how you are planning on spending your time there, particularly when travelling to hot climates and are planning on doing a lot of outdoor activities such as hiking. Epi-pens can’t be in direct sunlight and can’t be stored safely in extreme temperature- therefore if travelling to hotter locations include a small thermal bag in your suitcase along with some ice packs so you can ensure the longevity of your Epi-pen.
I am scared about clearing customs and not being allowed to take my EpiPen on the plane- could this be a problem, will they let me take my Epi-pen on the plane?
In general, this is a common fear that people have when travelling by plane but usually it’s not a problem. To be extra safe take a letter from a doctor explaining your condition and medication needs.
Are there any other documents I should take with me on the when travelling?
When travelling we recommend you take with you all your medical information, this includes your medical history, and a letter from your Doctor written in English detailing, when your last reaction was, what a reaction looks like and which medication has worked for you in the past. This is very important as if G-d forbid an anaphylactic reaction does occur you have all the information on hand to show to your Doctor. Even if you think you can say everything important off-hand, in situations of intense stress especially in a foreign country even a parent can forget vital information- trust us – this has happened before. If the traveller who has anaphylaxis is travelling alone there is also the unfortunate possibility that they may not be in a position to communicate when the paramedics arrive so these documents are of vital importance. You should also take your medical cards with you such as a Medicare card etc
Do you recommend disposable seat covers for the seat on the plane? Anything else about flying we should know about?
Seat covers are a great idea, but wipes are also important as well for all other surfaces such as the tray table, entertainment screens and the remote control. Ask to pre-board a bit earlier so you can have a chance to do this before the plane fills up.
Lastly, research your airline's policy regarding allergies, such as nuts. Make a copy of it and carry it with you. Knowledge is power and sometimes even employees are unaware of their company’s policies and ask the stewardesses not to serve nuts on the flight if that is one of your allergens, as well they are usually willing to announce that there is someone with a particular allergy on board.
Do different countries have more risks for travellers with allergies and should, therefore, be avoided? Are there any countries you recommend for people with allergies?
Our philosophy is- ‘never let your allergy get in the way of you travelling and exploring the world.’ That is not to say you shouldn’t take the necessary precautions- of course it would be foolish not to- but if your heart is leading you someplace- let your feet take you there!
The main difference between different countries is their awareness level. When the awareness of allergies are low, the knowledge of issues such as hidden allergens and cross-contamination are even less. Some awareness of allergies always makes things easier for people travelling with allergies. Places like Israel, Malaysia and Asian, for example- have very low levels of awareness. In addition, there are also issues regarding labelling and cultural differences in local cuisine. In regards to Asian countries- their local cuisine includes a lot of peanuts and sesame oil. For Israel- sesame is a big issue, where there is literally no safe bakery for someone with a sesame allergy as well as additional concerns with regards to contamination in other products as well such as breadcrumbs, combined that with no mandatory allergy labelling- and it can be very challenging travelling to these locations without help from a professional service such as Food Allergy Concierge. With regards to buying products from a supermarket- this is easier when travelling within the United States due to mandatory labelling- however, at this point, unfortunately, the law doesn’t include all allergies, such as sesame, so that’s something to be aware of.
A person can always plan on bringing their own safe food along with them- canned items etc, but that can be difficult for trips that are more than a few days, in such cases our advice is to do plenty of research before you begin your travels; contact companies of products that you wish to buy along the way and ask the relevant questions, call up recommended restaurants and speak to the manager and the chef- or you can search the internet with Facebook groups being a great resource.
If all of this seems to be too overwhelming for you, consider hiring a company to do the research for you- even if it’s only for remote management- which is a more economical option.
Is a more expensive hotel safer for allergies because, for example, they are cleaner?
Not necessarily- there are many average priced hotels that have a high level of cleanliness. This has no relation to how much you pay. The difference between the different levels of accommodation is that in general the more you pay the more accommodating they are to your needs.
As always we recommend contact the hotel directly before you book. Speak to them and see how accommodating they are willing to be and if perhaps they have had experience dealing with allergies before. Often a hotel says they can accommodate allergies up to a certain point- this could be for many reasons such as the size of their kitchen- and then you can make a decision based on what they reply.
Which services that you offer would you say to never travel without?
100% the Allergy card. I would never ever leave the house without it. Some additional points that are important to consider- is that it has to be translated into the language of the country you are travelling too as well as include instructions about cross-contamination and hidden allergens.