Socialising, Travel and Festivals

Information and advice for a parent or carer of a child living with allergy

Parent of a 12 to 17 year old

In this section

Eating out

Eating out with friends will become more common as these years go by. If your child lives with a food allergy, it’s important that they’re confident and able to make informed, safe choices when ordering food.

  • From an early age, encourage your child to practice reading food labels, choosing/ordering their own food and explaining to waiting staff about their allergies in a safe environment, so that they become used to doing so.
  • Encourage your child to call the restaurant in advance, to find out if they can cater for their allergies.
  • Remind them to double-check when ordering and again before eating. Good communication is vital.
  • When shopping, encourage your child to help by practicing reading labels and finding ‘safe food ‘ choices.

If they have severe food allergies, stress the importance that they must always have two adrenaline auto-injectors with them, especially when eating, and any other rescue medication they may need e.g. blue inhaler etc. Suggest that it would be good if at least one person they’re eating with is aware of their allergies, how to use their adrenaline auto-injector and, knows what to do if they have a severe allergic reaction.

  • Encourage your child to get a trainer adrenaline auto-injector pen and practice with their friends and family.
  • Tell them that it’s better to stay safe, and if they’re worried about a restaurant’s response or lack of understanding about allergies, it may be safer to leave or not to eat.

Holidays and travelling

Travelling abroad and across the UK is a fantastic way to educate your child and broaden their minds. It’s important that their allergies do not prevent them from living these wonderful experiences.

When travelling with allergy medication, guide and encourage them to:

  • Order prescription medication in plenty of time.
  • Take more medication than required to last the entire trip. They may find their particular medication is not available in every country.
  • Make sure they always have their medication with them (trips like skiing or scuba diving may throw up challenges of how to carry, so they need to plan ahead).
  • When flying, take a letter showing your allergies to help with security and carrying over 100ml medicines on flights. Make sure all prescribed medication has names clearly printed (the pharmacists label) as this may be checked against passports when travelling through customs.
  • When travelling with emollients, suggest they take sample sizes in their hand luggage and pack large unopened emollient tubs and pump dispensers in hold luggage.
  • If they’re travelling with inhalers for asthma, remind them to always keep their reliever inhaler with them. These can be safely taken on a plane in hand luggage. If travelling long distance, it’s prudent to keep their preventer inhaler in hand luggage too.
  • For allergic rhinitis and hay fever, remind them to keep their relief medication in their hand luggage. This should include treatments such as antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, and any other prescribed treatments.
  • When packing, encourage your child to pack in their hand luggage rescue medication i.e., adrenaline auto-injectors, antihistamines, inhalers etc. and any other medication they might need urgently, so that it’s with them all the time. They should not put these in their hold luggage.

Additional tips for travelling with food allergy:

  • When booking flights, it’s sensible to contact the airline in advance to find out what their policy is for food allergic passengers. Some airlines offer the following: early boarding to allow you to wipe down seats and tables, special meals for dietary requirements, onboard announcements, and allowances for travelling with fluids for infants. But this does vary between airlines and country of origin.
  • Encourage them to pack snacks, as free-from foods may be harder to find when travelling.
  • Wet wipes can be helpful on a plane, train etc. to wipe down seating areas and their hands.
  • Suggest that they could order Translation Cards from Allergy UK to help with the language barrier when ordering food abroad.

Remind them that trigger allergens can be different across the world and throughout the UK e.g. pollen allergy, hay fever seasons differ across Europe and even across regions of the UK. While travelling to new environments, they may be exposed to unexpected allergy triggers, which may exacerbate their allergies. Air conditioning on transport may also expose them to unexpected allergy triggers.

Events, festivals, and gigs

Attending events with their friends, without adult supervision, may become a popular way to enjoy evenings and weekends. These tips can help you prepare your child for attending these events and staying safe.

If your child carries medication, ensure they know the medication should be carried with them at all times. It’s handy to have medication labelled where possible e.g., keep in original box or reapply pharmacy sticky labels to inhalers.

  • If they carry medication, such as an adrenaline auto-injector or asthma inhaler, make sure they tell all the friends that they’re going out with about their allergies, what might trigger symptoms, and where they keep their medication.
  • Encourage your child to confide in their friends. It is a good idea for them to show their friends what to do if they experience symptoms of an allergic reaction and how to administer their medication in an emergency.
  • If possible, buy them a medical bracelet, necklace, or wristband, or encourage them to keep a card with their personal details and allergy triggers on, or to keep a copy of their allergy management plan with their rescue medication. Being at an event where people will be drinking alcohol, symptoms might be mistaken for something else. Wearing a medical bracelet or carrying a card with their allergy details on, or their allergy management plan, will make sure your child’s taken care of in the appropriate way if they suffer a severe reaction.
  • If they’re under 18, ideally, they shouldn’t be drinking themselves, but if they do, remind them of the risks.
  • If they have a food allergy, taking their own ‘safe’ snacks is recommended, if the venue allows you to take your own food items in. Many venues will agree so long as the food is in sealed packaging. Suggest they contact the venue in advance to check if this is allowed. If this is not allowed, the venue may make an exception if your child can take a GP letter or show a copy of their allergy management plan.
Travelling with an allergy

Travelling with an allergy

On this page you will find information about travelling abroad with an allergy, airline polices for customers with allergies and top tips for holidays, from booking and packing to eating out while you’re there.

Allergy translation cards

Allergy translation cards

Translation cards are available from Allergy UK and will ensure others are made aware of your allergy despite any language barriers. Available as plastic cards or digital.

Food allergies and travel

Food allergies and travel

It is not uncommon for those with a food allergy or who are the parent/ carer of a food allergic child to feel anxious about the thought of travel.

Living with anaphylaxis

Living with anaphylaxis

If your child uses any form of allergy medication it should always be easily accessible for use at any time during travel to and from the travel destination, and should be taken.

Reactions to Alcohol

Reactions to Alcohol

Young people will look to emulate adults and experimenting with alcohol before the legal age can often be seen as a ‘rite of passage’ by their peers which is why it is important to be aware of any hidden allergens.

Sanofi UK has provided a financial contribution to the production of this digital destination but has had no editorial input into the design, content or other outputs.

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