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Can I travel if I have an allergy?

Man with allergies sneezing into his elbow
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Advice for travellers with allergies

Travel can be daunting if you have an allergy – but with a bit of planning you can still relax and enjoy your time away.

How can I alleviate my allergy symptoms while travelling?

Talk with your allergist about managing your allergy symptoms while on vacation or travelling for work, and make sure you have good supplies of your usual allergy meds. You will need enough for your trip and then enough for a few days’ extra to allow for delays. Bring copies of your prescriptions to answer any questions that security or border staff might ask. Put your meds in your hand luggage while travelling – this will ensure that you can get to it if you need it.

Avoiding allergy triggers while on vacation

Many people actively avoid allergy triggers to manage their allergic condition. This may be simple enough at home where you have lots of control over your environment, but when you are travelling you may have less control. There are still some steps you can take to avoid contact with your allergy trigger, though: you may want to take your own bedding with you, for example.

Travel insurance for allergies

Check that your travel insurance covers you for any allergy-related health problems. Make sure you mention your allergies when you buy your travel insurance.

Allergy translation cards

People whose food allergies can result in a serious or life-threatening reaction may wish to carry translation cards with them. Equal Eats and Select Wisely can supply such cards, or ask your allergist to suggest a text and get it translated by a professional translator.

If you have an allergy to latex or any common medications, similar cards will be very much needed if you have to have medical attention while travelling.

How do I get emergency help if I have an allergic reaction while travelling?

When booking a trip abroad, be aware that not every part of the world has as responsive an emergency service as Canada does. In some regions, you may have to get yourself to a medical centre because there are no ambulances.

Find out the emergency number at your destination, and learn some key phrases that you may need to summon help. You may want to brief your travelling companions on what they should do if you experience anaphylaxis or an asthma attack because of your allergy.

Our article on how to get healthcare while travelling has some advice about accessing emergency services abroad.

Should I get vaccinated before I travel if I have allergies?

Six weeks before your trip make an appointment with a travel health adviser (for example, at our Toronto clinic). They can tell you if you need any travel vaccinations before you go – for example, for Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever or hepatitis. Let them know if you have allergies, and they will check that all the vaccines are safe for you. You can also discuss the recommended vaccines with your allergist. If you cannot have a particular vaccine because of your allergies, our travel health experts can advise on reducing your exposure to potential pathogens, so make an appointment even if you think travel vaccines are not suitable for you.