Being able to say a few words in a foreign language is a savvy travel skill. Everyone appreciates the effort to be addressed with familiar words, even if you’re making a clumsy attempt and the accent is all wrong.
Communicating your needs and wants to others is especially essential when you have to tell them something really important, like about life-threatening food allergy. People with allergies face this issue head on in every day life, but it can be even more intense when travelling. These life-saving travel tips for travelling with food allergies will help you navigate foreign meals in four languages.
Live-Saving Tips for Travelling with Food Allergies
It is difficult enough to decipher a menu in German or Japanese when you don’t have to worry about being allergic to any of the food items on offer. But, if you have food allergies including gluten, peanuts, marlin or milk, it’s a whole other world of uncertainty that can transform your lovely holiday into a nightmare, in just one breakfast, lunch or dinner.
As always, it pays to plan ahead to prevent such problems from ever taking place, and to give yourself some precious travel peace of mind.
Pack an Epi pen and allergy medication
If you or a family member have a food-related, life-threatening allergy, ensure that you have packed a new, labelled Epi (epinephrine auto injector) pen. Include it in your carry-on luggage or purse, along with some Benedryl to counter any lower-level allergic reactions.
Any specific allergy medications, and equipment, like an inhaler, should always be part of your standard travel first aid kit, including such things as pain medications, band-aids, and anti-bacterial cream.
These items should be accessible in your carryon if flying on an airplane. Be sure to advise your flight attendants of any food allergies when flying. Ask for safe snacks onboard or better yet, pack safe food that you know you can enjoy during a trip.
Check your emergency medical insurance coverage
Ensure that your travel insurance coverage includes emergency medical assistance for the country that you are visiting. If you need specific riders on your policy, discuss these with your insurance professional well ahead of time.
Print allergy translation cards
Can’t speak the language to advise about your peanut allergies? Prior to departure, write up and translate (using Google Translate or with a friends’ help) key phrases in the languages of your destination, that you can use in the event of an emergency.
These phrases should be in clear language that identifies the issue of concern, such as “I have allergies to peanut products” or “Does this contain milk (or) nuts?” or “Is this gluten free?” You can even add symbols with a big red strike through it, for extra effect.
It’s great to have these on your phone or iPad as well, but a hard copy (you could even laminate it) is important as well. Phone batteries die often at the worst possible times.
Foreign Language Phrases
We’ve included some examples below in various languages (French, Spanish, German and Mandarin) to help you get started.
I’m allergic to peanuts / milk / gluten . Does this contain peanuts / milk / gluten? (French, Spanish, German, Mandarin)
Je suis allergique aux arachides / au lait / au gluten. Est-ce que ça contient des arachides / du lait / du gluten?
Soy alérgico al mani /la leche / el gluten. ¿Esto contiene maní / leche / gluten?
Ich bin allergisch gegen Erdnüsse / Milch / Gluten. Bedeutet dies enthalten Erdnüsse / Milch / Gluten?
Wǒ duì huāshēng, niúnǎi hé miànjīn guòmǐn. Zhège bāohán rènhé huāshēng, niúnǎi huò miànjīn zài lǐmiàn ma?
You can practice saying these phrases as well, but given the nuance of language, having the security of the written phrase will help ensure that nothing is lost in translation.
Do you have food allergies? Share you tips in the comments below.