June 1, 2020
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with travel dates on or after
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with effective start dates on or after
Ukraine; Belarus; Moldova, Republic of; (North) Korea, Democratic People's Rep; Russian Federation; Israel
Travel — especially international travel — can feel like a huge risk when you have a serious food allergy or food intolerance. What if you experience a reaction when you’re far from medical help? What if a waiter misunderstands what you’re saying? What if there’s just nothing you can eat?
Don’t let your allergy stop you from seeing the world! While traveling with food allergies can be challenging, you can do it successfully and safely with some thoughtful preparation.
We can’t overstate how important it is for travelers with food allergies to protect themselves with travel insurance. Specifically, you need a plan that includes emergency medical and dental benefits and emergency medical transportation benefits. Here are the top reasons why:
Our most popular travel insurance plan for international trips is OneTrip Prime. Not only does this plan include a wide array of benefits, but kids 17 and under are covered for free when traveling with a parent or grandparent (not available on policies issued to Pennsylvania residents).
Please note that a food allergy may be considered a pre-existing medical condition. Travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance can cover losses resulting from a pre-existing medical condition, but certain requirements must be met when you’re purchasing your plan. Read your plan documents carefully, and contact us if you have any questions about what’s covered.
In Thailand, crushed peanuts are a popular topping on many dishes. In Peru, peanuts are an unexpected addition to many traditional meals, such as ají de gallina (chicken stew) and cuy con papas (guinea pig with potato stew, hot peppers, and toasted peanuts). If you or someone in your family has a life-threatening peanut allergy, it may make sense to steer clear of countries where peanuts are widely used.
Allergy-friendly travel destinations include the U.K., where restaurants are required to provide information on allergens and Japan, where nut dishes rarely appear on menus (seafood, however, is common).i In Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, the E.U. and several other Central/South American and Asian countries, major allergens must be listed on packaged food.ii However, the definition of “major allergens” varies by country.
What about gluten-free travel? Lonely Planet recommends Italy, India, and Ethiopia as a few delicious destinations for gluten-free travelers.iii
Travel providers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect travelers who have serious food allergies. When you’re planning your trip, ask the cruise line or resort company about their policies. Some cruise lines train youth staff to administer Epi-Pens, for instance, while others only allow medical staff to do it.iv Some cruise lines want you to communicate your allergies to them a few months ahead of time; others advise speaking with your server or the maitre d’ once you’re on board.v
Allergy-friendly all-inclusive resorts can be hard to find, but they do exist. Palladium Hotels & Resorts is one favorite of travelers with food allergies. Guests are given dietary cards that specify their allergy, which helps staff serve them appropriate meals. Specific menus are available for diners who are gluten-free or allergic to nuts, eggs, dairy, seafood, MSG or fruits, and vegetables.vi
When you have a serious food allergy, a language barrier can be life-threatening. One family that spent a year traveling the world with a peanut-allergic child has one essential piece of advice: “If you are sitting at a restaurant and your waiter does not speak English very well, do not even verbally mention your peanut allergy.” That’s because the server may understand only the word “peanut,” they explain, and assume you want nuts added to your food.
If you’re traveling with food allergies in a country where English is not widely spoken, you may:
If your allergy requires rescue medication, carry it with you at all times. Always pack essential prescription medications in your carry-on, not your checked bags.
You should also research the availability of your medication at your destination. Epinephrine auto-injectors are not typically available at pharmacies in Mexico, for example.vii Talk to your doctor about your travel plans and ask him or her to prescribe extra medication you can bring on your travels.
One last thing: Before you leave, download the free TravelSmart app from Allianz Global Assistance. It’s not just a convenient way to access your travel insurance; this robust travel app helps you find nearby, pre-screened medical facilities, and includes glossaries for medical terms and medications in several languages, and puts local emergency numbers at your fingertips.