IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|
Photo By: Thommen Jose

How to travel with food allergies

Travellers with food allergies have to be extra careful when planning a trip abroad. If your trip takes you to a country where the main cooking ingredients are on your blacklist, it can be tricky to ensure that your meals are safe, especially when you don’t speak the language.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Research the common foods of your destination country and talk to your health practitioner about your travel plans.
  • Pack the medications you need to prevent an adverse reaction like antihistamines or epinephrine injectors with refills.
  • Find a reputable doctor or hospital prior to your trip in case of an emergency. Carry a personalized translated allergy card or a letter from your doctor outlining your food allergies to alert healthcare providers of your condition.
  • If you’re grocery shopping abroad, read labels and be aware of packaging that does not list ingredients. Note that in many countries there are no or weak food labelling regulations and some products may be partially labelled.
  • Tell others about your food allergy. Carry a personalized translated card detailing your allergies to show restaurant waiters, chefs, grocery store clerks, or food vendors. You can get a translated card from SelectWisely, Allergy Translation and Celiac Travel. You can also download the Allergy Food Translator mobile app.
  • Contact the restaurant ahead of time to ask them if they can accommodate your allergy and advise the waiter again before ordering.

Last reviewed and updated: December 11, 2020.

Travel Health Journal