Creating a Plan B: How to Handle Allergic Reactions on a Family Trip

Child sneezing into a tissue in a field of purple flowers

From sneezing to itchy skin, runny eyes, and anaphylactic shock, allergic reactions are no walk in the park. And unfortunately, they don’t take a break just because you do.

That’s why planning a vacation with your family is more stressful when you or your child suffer from allergies.

But fret not!

We’re here to give you some tips on how to handle that extra baggage on your family trip.

This post is part of our Family Travel Advice Series

Proper preparation is the best preventative measure to avoid an allergic disaster on holiday. So, before you jet off, take a moment to consider the following when packing:

Handy Hand Luggage

Your hand luggage is your best friend in the case of an airborne allergic reaction. Keep it close during your flight rather than in the overhead compartment.

In your carry-on, it’s a good idea to store any medication you may need, like an adrenaline injector or an asthma pump. If you have an allergy action plan, pack this in too, and make sure that it’s signed by your doctor and describes what allergies you have and how they should get treated.

A child holding an asthma pump - supplies you will want to take when dealing with allergies

Wet wipes are another handy item to pop in your hand luggage. These wipes go a long way when there’s no guarantee of running water or soap, and you can easily store them in your bag or pocket. You can use them to wipe any of the seating areas in planes, trains, ships, or buses where you and your family are more likely to encounter allergens.

When in the air, it’s also a good idea to avoid areas of potential concern like airplane cushions and blankets, which may carry allergens. If you’ve got the space in your carry-on, rather pack your own pillow.

Make Space For Safe Foods

Allergies will follow you onto your plane, into your hotel room, and off your plate, so it’s important that you check whether your transport and accommodation accommodate your needs!

Most airlines have their allergy policies online, and you can alert the staff to your needs. Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia has a comprehensive comparison of different airlines’ preparedness for dealing with food allergies.

When booking accommodation, check whether there are refrigerators or microwaves so that you can safely store your own food. If meals are included, ensure that they can cater to your family’s dietary needs.

Researching the restaurant menus at your proposed destination beforehand is a sure way to avoid allergic reactions. And, if you’re not sure about a dish, you can always ask the waitstaff. If in doubt, however, it’s a good idea to opt for something else, especially if your allergy is serious.

Carrying an allergy avoidance list around with you can help you to remember the foods that may trigger your allergies. If you don’t speak the language of the country that you’re traveling to, make sure that your list is translated so that you avoid any misunderstandings.

Be Aware of Allergy Triggers

Traveling may increase your exposure to allergy triggers. Certain foods like shellfish and tree nuts may crop up more frequently than at home, so you need to be aware of what’s in the local cuisine.

Dust, mold, seasonal pollen, and insects are just some examples of allergy triggers that may increase as you travel.

a preteen in a field of flowers sneezing into a tissue

A quick Google on flora and fauna of your desired destination can go a long way in mitigating an allergic reaction. Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and fire ants cause the most common insect stings, and knowing whether they frequent your destination and how to treat their stings, could prove lifesaving.

Be Medically Minded

Running out of allergy medication is sure to put a damper on any adventure. To keep the fun going, top up your prescriptions and check their expiry dates before leaving your hometown.

Should you have to consult local healthcare services when traveling, check that your health insurance policy covers doctor or emergency visits abroad and that your travel insurance covers your existing allergies.

It’s also important that you study the emergency contact details of your travel destination.

Now that you’ve got your bags packed and brimming with medical assurances, it’s time to pay attention to your holiday look. While a medical ID bracelet may not be one of the latest fashion trends, it could save a life as it speaks for you or your family member when you cannot.

a medi alert bracelet for children traveling with allergies that can also look fashionable

Before You Sit Back and Relax

All the preparation in the world only goes so far if you are the only person equipped to assist with an allergic reaction. Should you be poolside while your family enjoys the buffet, ensure that they also know how to administer necessary medication in the event of an allergy attack.

Having local emergency numbers stored on more than one person’s phone is a good idea too. This ensures that more than one member of your family can call for help if it’s needed.

Allergies will always invite themselves on your family trips. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your time away.

It just takes a little extra thought, a bit of knowledge, and some additional packing!

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A child sneezing into a tissue with title Creating a Plan B how to deal with allergic reactions on your next family trip
Two children holding tissues to their faces text overly handling childrens allergies when you travel

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