Travelling abroad with a food allergy

(KnowRisk)

Travelling with a food allergy can be tricky business.

Australia has one of the highest allergic incidence rates in the developed world with one in 10 people suffering from a potentially fatal food allergy.

While you have probably developed ways of dealing with your food allergy at home, it’s not always so simple when away on holiday.

Travelling with food allergies can be challenging and will require you to take extra care, especially if you’re eating unfamiliar food. You should also know if your travel insurance policy will cover you for any pre-existing food allergies.

Work out if you’re covered

Many travel insurance policies won’t cover you for a pre-existing food allergy that requires an EpiPen or Anapen but will offer additional cover at an additional cost. Like with any policy, make sure you double-check the terms and conditions.

Often policies will exclude allergies where:

  • you have been hospitalised for any condition (including day surgery or emergency department attendance) in the last 24 months
  • you haven’t received a medical opinion regarding your condition
  • you are in the process of getting your condition diagnosed
  • you are waiting on the opinion of a specialist
  • you have any other pre-existing medical condition not included on the list of Automatically Covered Medical Conditions.

Be prepared

Before you go on your trip, make sure you schedule an appointment with your doctor so you’re well-stocked with any antihistamines or adrenaline injections you may need. Your doctor will also need to complete and sign a travel plan for people at risk of anaphylaxis.

On the trip

While away on holiday, you should always be mindful of what you eat. To help deal with any unanticipated situations, make sure you always have your injections with you and make sure anyone you’re travelling with knows how they’re supposed to be used in case you have an allergic reaction.

Be extra cautious about what you’re eating. If you’re eating out, be mindful of language barriers as simply asking whether a dish contains nuts may not be understood.

You should also be aware of cross-contamination if you’re eating in a restaurant that uses nuts elsewhere on the menu. A good idea is to always carry a safe snack with you in case there’s nothing for you to eat.

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia has more information on travelling with allergies.