Allergic Living’s Travel Guide: Travel by Air

in Managing Allergies, Travel & Dining
Published: September 2, 2010

Travel by Air

Pack your medications. Always remember to bring your allergy and asthma medications with you – and if you’re flying, don’t pack them in your checked baggage. Keep them with you at all times.

Pack food. If you’re not sure what foods will be available on the road or in the air, bring some of your favourite safe foods and beverages along for the ride. Always bring plenty of non-perishable snacks that don’t require any preparation. And if you’re taking a car trip, pack a cooler and keep it in the trunk. Travel cooler bags come in many shapes and sizes, and are a cheap and simple way to make your food portable.

Pack cooking supplies. If you’re staying in a hotel or even with friends, it never hurts to travel with a basic cooking set. Lightweight, compact sets are available at any major retailer that sells camping supplies. While you’re there, pick up a lightweight cutting board, and a small cutlery and dish set, and you’ll be all set to go.

Pack wipes. Hand wipes can be wonderfully convenient when you’re traveling. Use them to wipe your hands and other surfaces.

Talk to the staff. If you’re flying, mention your allergies to all airline employees that you deal with – in particular the employees at the check-in counter, at the gate, and on the plane. That way it’s less likely there will be any crossed wires.

On the Plane

Pre-board. If you have a serious allergy, you can take advantage of pre-boarding, and use the extra couple of minutes to wipe down the table tray and the arms of your or your child’s seat, and to cover the seat with a sheet, blanket, or seat cover.

Ask if they can make an announcement. Some airlines’ official policy is that they will not make an announcement asking other passengers to refrain from eating foods that could cause you trouble. But sometimes the crews at the gate and on the flight are more flexible, so don’t hesitate to ask.

See Chart: Comparing Airlines

Wash your hands. Before you eat, make sure to wash your hands to remove any allergen that you may have picked up in the airport or on the plane.

Only eat your own food. If you’re thousands of meters up in the sky, you don’t want to experiment with new foods. Bring foods that you know are safe and stick with them. And even if you bring foods that have been safe for you in the past, make sure to re-read the ingredients in case they have changed.

Talk to the flight attendants. If there is anything that causes you concern, or if you experience any reaction in-flight, tell the flight attendant. They are trained to deal with all kinds of medical emergencies and are generally happy to help.