Gillian loves to travel, and she's determined not to let her food allergies stop her. She says feelings of awkwardness and worry about her food allergy have faded as she gets older. Now she doesn't hesitate to ask questions about food, no matter where she is. She knows that ignoring her food allergy could lead to a bad reaction — and draw a lot more attention to her, not to mention put her in some serious (and vacation-wrecking) danger.
Yes, people with life-threatening food allergies really can take off on weekend road trips, spend a summer abroad, or vacation in the wilderness. It just takes confidence and planning.
Planning a trip can be stressful for anyone. But people with food allergies may feel particularly anxious about leaving their familiar home environments. It's easy to understand why: Not only do people have to stay safe in a new place, but they also have to handle any social concerns that arise, like asking for special accommodations, avoiding certain activities or places, or explaining the need to prepare and eat their own food.
Even among friends, people can sometimes feel embarrassed or uncomfortable raising food allergy concerns. So it's natural to worry that it might feel even more awkward in a new environment or culture.
Perhaps the best way to boost confidence and calm nerves is to research and plan your trip thoroughly. Think ahead. Instead of trying to push worries aside, use them as a guide to prepare yourself for the kinds of situations you might face in a new place. Remind yourself that your anxiety is real — and understandable.
You already know how to manage your food allergies — you do it every day. The strategies that help you cope at home can work well on trips too.
Think about what kinds of situations might come up and how to deal with them. Talk through any worries with supportive friends and family who will be joining you on the trip. Not only can they help you avoid risky situations, they can also be your emotional support system.
If you're traveling overseas, talk to someone who understands the country's traditions and culture to get tips on how to manage your allergy and still fit in.
If someone other than you or your family (like a teacher or friend's parent) is organizing your trip, be sure that person is clear on what your needs are. Be sure that he or she understands enough about food allergies to look out for you.
Planning ahead can help you feel less anxious about what could go wrong and more excited about the adventure ahead. Start a couple of weeks to a month in advance by making a detailed to-do list. List each of the tasks below — along with any others your doctor or nurse educator recommends — starting with the one that needs to be done farthest in advance.
Staying alert, taking precautions, and carrying meds are just part of normal life for someone who has a food allergy. Once you've done it once or twice, traveling with food allergies feels perfectly routine also. You feel less like you're "traveling with food allergies" and more like you're simply "traveling."
With careful planning, travel can be liberating and help you feel more independent. You'll learn just how good you are at taking care of yourself.
|Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network for Teens A website for teens who want to take a more active role in managing their food allergies.|
|CDC: Travelers' Health Look up vaccination requirements for travel destinations, get updates on international outbreaks, and more, searachable by country.|
|Nut and Peanut Allergy Peanuts are one of the most common allergy-causing foods, and they often find their way into things you wouldn't imagine. Learn the facts on living with a nut or peanut allergy.|
|Allergies Your eyes itch, your nose is running, you're sneezing, and you're covered in hives. The enemy known as allergies has struck again.|
|Serious Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis) A person with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This reaction can seem scary, but the good news is it can be treated.|
|Food Allergies Doctors are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with food allergies can make a big difference in preventing serious illness.|
|Travel Tips It's always important to take care of your health, particularly when you're traveling. Our article will give you tips for keeping your travel experience as healthy as possible.|
|Allergy Testing Doctors use several different types of allergy tests, depending on what a person may be allergic to. Find out what to expect from allergy tests.|
|Egg Allergy Living with an egg allergy means you have to be aware of what you're eating and read food labels carefully. Here are some tips for teens who have an egg allergy.|
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