Living with a life-threatening allergy can turn planning for a holiday from an exciting endeavour to a daunting task. Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, planning is the name of the game. Careful planning and preparation are essential to making sure you have a happy and safe trip.

Do your research

Before taking off, learn how dishes at your travel destination are often prepared, what ingredients are commonly used and where hidden allergens might be lurking. Fortunately, unlike many other food intolerances, peanut allergies are widely understood worldwide, so menus will often be clear about foods containing peanuts.

You probably know the foods you need to avoid at home, but foods abroad can be a little trickier. You should not be afraid to eat adventurously with food allergies, but you do need to prepare. If you are looking forward to enjoying a particular food abroad, look online first.

Don’t leave without the essentials

Of course you know it is important to bring a full supply of any medication you need to cope with your allergy, but you should also bring information regarding your condition, written in English and in the local language. Remember to bring the documents for your travel insurance policy and instructions for potential doctors regarding the medications you are taking. Prepare for the worst and you will be more likely to stay safe given a bad scenario.

Do ask ahead of time

Many companies will be accommodating to your needs, but do be sure to communicate your specific needs ahead of time—this applies to airlines, hotels and tour groups. If you do not see ingredient information listed on websites, don’t be afraid to give the company a call. Do not go into the call upset by their lack of foresight, but do be clear and direct regarding your needs.

Packing your own healthy travel snacks before leaving home can also come in handy in a pinch. Flight attendants and hotel staff are only people, and they may make mistakes. Take a look at a few of our healthy travel snack suggestions and don’t let this ruin your whole trip.

Don’t be afraid to cook

Cooking is a wonderful way to save money on the road and be sure you know what is in your meals. Incorporate local flavours by looking up recipes online or asking residents. Do take precautions when cooking, though, and be sure you understand the water quality in the country you are visiting, as this can complicate your abilities to cook.

Do stay protected

If you have an existing medical condition, such as a life-threatening allergy, remembering travel insurance is important. Many travellers with existing conditions think they cannot obtain travel insurance, but this is incorrect. Consider a pre-existing travel insurance policy from Cover-More. Not only does travel insurance protect you in the event of an emergency, but it makes sure you see an approved, English-speaking doctor. Shop around for a travel insurance policy that meets your specific needs.

If you are travelling to New Zealand or the United Kingdom, do not forget to consider travel insurance. While Australia does have a reciprocal health insurance agreement with New Zealand, it does not have one with the United Kingdom. In addition, some health needs (like ambulance rides) are not covered in the reciprocal agreement. As SmarTraveller says, ‘if you can afford to travel, you can afford travel insurance’.

Don’t be afraid to bring kids with allergies

Many parents of children with peanut allergies think foreign travel is too risky. While this may be the case in specific scenarios, it is not true for every child. If you do decide to travel with your gluten-free child, arm yourself with knowledge. Take all of these tips to heart and work twice as hard to make sure they are executed.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Herr Hans Gruber; cropped from original