March Break is Finally Here!

March Break is Finally Here!

It’s finally that time of the year when a lot of us Canadians can finally get the chance to escape to some warmer climate places and away from our cold winters!  Food allergies tend to get overlooked when planning a family vacation.  If you are travelling and have food allergies, here are some tips to make sure you have a safe and relaxing vacation.

Inspect your gear
Get out your auto-injector and asthma medications and check to see that they are up to date. (EpiPen for example, offers a free service notifies the user when they are due for a replacement). If you have asthma, check your medications to see how much is left and whether you have refills ready.

When travelling with auto-injector and asthma medications, it is recommended that you keep this with you in your carry-on luggage and NOT in your checked luggage for two reasons:  The cold air in checked luggage can ruin an auto-injector and the second reason is you never know when you may experience an allergy or asthma emergency.

Depending on your allergies, you may be packing a meal or snacks as well. Assume that there could be delays in your travel and pack enough food or drink to get you through.

Know your surroundings
Make sure you understand the language, culture and health care system of the place you are visiting. Contact the hotel/resort or place you’re staying at to find out about the location, as well as services you may need (grocery stores, allergy-friendly restaurants, etc).

It is beneficial to always purchase travel insurance whenever possible, and be prepared for an emergency.  You can usually purchase travel insurance through your local bank (RBC, CIBC, BMO, etc.).  Some credit cards (travel credit cards) will also have built in travel insurance coverage as well, so it’s recommended you read up on these details as well.  Find out whether your destination an emergency contact number and identify the closest hospital or health care center to your location.

Eating out
Find out which restaurants are in the area and learn about their allergy policies. Many restaurants also include allergy info on their websites, or you can phone ahead. Facebook also has travel groups for people with allergies, where travelers can share recommendations.  Yelp is also a very good app to provide lots of restaurants based on your location and can provide reviews and pictures of the restaurant.

Eating in
If you’re staying in a place that is equipped with a kitchen, you may want to consider bringing your own cutlery and cookware as this may reduce any food allergy emergencies.

If you’re staying in a standard hotel room without kitchen, bring a hot plate to cook your own meals. Many rooms include a microwave and fridge (ask ahead).  You can also try ordering room service (if they provide it) and inform them of any food allergies so they can prepare the food to your preferences.

A note on air travel
There can be a big difference between airlines in terms of their food allergy policies. Some companies offer buffer rows or make announcements asking passengers not to eat peanuts: others don’t. Phone ahead, preferably before you reserve a flight, to find out their policies.  Luckily most major airlines are very aware of food allergies and will take the necessary precautions to ensure passenger safety.

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