Nothing can ruin the trip of a lifetime faster than a medical emergency. While many of these situations may be unavoidable and unpredictable, that's not the case when a traveler is stricken with severe allergies. A recent survey from Sanofi US and Wakefield Research found that as much as 70 percent of adults who have intense allergies have had a bad reaction when traveling. In addition, about 65 percent of children in a similar situation have had a severe attack during a vacation.
Here are a few ways travelers with allergies can prepare themselves for their adventures:
Clear the air at restaurants
Dining out is a staple of many vacations, but for people with allergies, it can be difficult. If anyone in a travel group has a severe food allergy, the party should be sure to inform the staff before ordering. In fact, it may even be best to call around before mealtimes to find an establishment that can cater to specific needs. Anyone traveling to a land where a different language is spoken should be sure to learn the words for the problem foods ahead of time. Carrying around a card with the words written out may also be a helpful way to bridge a communication gap.
Take steps to avoid insects
Sometimes insect stings can produce a surprising severe allergic reaction. Bees, wasps and other bugs are often found at campgrounds or waterfront areas frequented by travelers, and as many as 70 percent of adults who are allergic to insect stings have experienced a bad reaction while on vacation. To prevent this, be sure to always wear shoes when outdoors and avoid packing bright colors or floral patterns that may attract bugs.
Have an emergency plan
Even if travelers take all other steps to prevent an allergic reaction, they should have an emergency plan in place in the event they find themselves in this type of situation. Pack any medications that may be needed, have contact information for nearby doctors or hospitals and consider investing in travel medical insurance to protect against high cost of care in foreign destinations.
"The high percentage of people surveyed experiencing anaphylaxis while away still points to the need for increased education on allergen avoidance," said Dr. Myron Zitt, the director of the Adult Allergy Clinic at Nassau University Medical Center. "... I want my patients to enjoy their vacations, which is why I emphasize the importance of having an action plan in place to be prepared for an unexpected allergic reaction."