Travelling with an Allergy

Don't let food allergies hold you back from exploring the world.

Find out more about allergy translation cards

Embarking on a journey should be a thrilling experience, but for those with food allergies, it can also be daunting, and can bring extra challenges. Simple things like choosing location, booking a flight or picking accommodation can be filled with extra questions and things to consider. This page will provide some useful guidance to help you plan, prepare and travel if you have an allergy or are travelling with someone with an allergy.

On this page:

Allergy Translation Cards

When traveling abroad with food allergies, language barriers can pose significant challenges. Allergy UK’s innovative allergy translation cards are designed to bridge this gap, ensuring that travelers can communicate their dietary restrictions effectively and enjoy their journey with peace of mind.

Allergy translation cards are handy, pocket-sized cards that feature translated allergy information in multiple languages. These cards help travelers convey crucial details about their food allergies to restaurant staff, chefs, and food vendors in foreign countries where language barriers may exist.

Available in 35 languages for over 150 different allergens

Balinese, Bulgarian, Cambodian (Khmer), Chinese (Simplified), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese, Lao, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Slovene, Spanish (mainland), Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.

Find out more and how to order

Planning ahead

Having an allergy means you have to be aware of triggers which could affect your allergies on a day-to-day basis.  However, if you plan, you can still enjoy travelling and holidays abroad.

The destination of your travel and choice of transport are important considerations when planning a holiday or travel.

When booking a holiday abroad, consider:

  • How will you get there?
  • Do you understand the language?
  • Do you have adequate supplies of medication for your holiday?
  • Do you have translation cards available?
  • Have you found out where the nearest emergency department is?
  • Do you know the number for emergency services?
  • Does your travel insurance cover your allergies?

Travelling overseas may mean that language can be a barrier to communicating the needs of someone with a food allergy. Translation Cards are a useful way of communicating food allergy in another language and are useful for travel and when eating out whilst on holiday.

Food allergies and travel

Traveling with food allergies can be both exciting and challenging. To ensure that your journeys are safe, enjoyable, and stress-free, download our comprehensive information factsheet tailored specifically for travelers with food allergies.

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Travelling with an allergic infant

Traveling with a food allergic child can present unique challenges, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it’s possible to ensure their safety and enjoyment while exploring the world. Our information factsheet is specifically designed to provide parents and caregivers with essential guidance and practical tips for navigating travel with a food allergic child.

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Airlines and flying with a food allergy

Individual airlines will have their own policy on food allergy management, this will vary depending on the provider. Make sure you’re aware of the policy for your chosen provider and that you’ve alerted them in advance of your trip. Keep in mind the airline you’re talking to may not be the one that’s flying the plane. Some are franchised to other airlines, who may or may not have the same policy or be unaware of specific arrangements.

Here is a list of the main airline providers and links to their policy information.

Aer Lingus · Air Asia · Air Canada · Air France · Air India · Air New Zealand · Alaska Airlines · American Airlines · ANA/All Nippon Airways · British Airways · Cathay Pacific · Asiana Airlines · Delta · Easyjet · Etihad Airways · Emirates · Finnair · Hawaiian Airlines · Japan Airlines · JetBlue · Jet2 · KLM · Lufthansa · Malaysia Airlines · Qantas · Qatar Airways · RyanAir · Singapore Airline · South African Airlines · Spirit · Southwest Airlines · SWISS · Thai Airways · Turkish Airlines · United Airlines · Virgin Blue · Westjet

If you wish to know whether snacks or foods containing specific allergens are served during the flight, then it is advisable to raise this question when you contact the airline before booking.

The 100ml liquid rule for hand luggage does not apply to medication in liquid form (for example antihistamine in syrup form) but a copy of your prescription or letter from your doctor as proof of need may be required.  The same documentary proof is required for Adrenaline Auto-Injector’s (AAI’s).

Top tips when flying or planning to fly with a food allergy

  • Before booking your holiday check the airlines policy on food allergy so you can make an informed decision on travelling with them or finding an alternative.
  • The time you travel could have an impact, airplanes are typically deep cleaned overnight, so the first morning flight is likely to lower the chances of cross contamination on the surfaces. However, if you have a milk or egg allergy, flying in the evening could reduce the amount of potential allergy triggers on your flight.
  • Consider arriving early to allow plenty of time to reconfirm your requests regarding, seating and early boarding.
  • Carry your allergy medication in your hand luggage, ensuring it is always accessible, in your suitcase in the luggage hold is not a suitable place for storage.
  • Check your allergy medication has not expired or will not expire whilst you are travelling.
  • See your doctor/nurse for prescriptions to cover your holiday, a letter about any medication needed and an up-to-date allergy and/or asthma plan.
  • Communication is key-inform airline staff of your food allergy at every opportunity, at booking, on boarding the aircraft and before any food supplied by the airline is eaten.
  • Take a pack of wipes with you, to clean down the seating area especially the tray table.
  • Avoid using the airline’s pillows and blankets, as they are frequently not washed and just re-wrapped between flights.

For more information and advice on flying with an allergy, download our travelling with an allergy factsheet and if you are travelling with an infant, read our travelling with an allergic infant factsheet.

Tips for backpacking and traveling with a food allergy

Embarking on a backpacking adventure or traveling to new destinations is an exhilarating experience, and for those living with a food allergy it is essential to take extra precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. Here are some important considerations and tips to keep in mind when backpacking and traveling with a food allergy:

  • Before you set off, research the culinary landscape of your destination. Learn about common ingredients, local dishes, and potential allergens prevalent in the region’s cuisine.
  • Brush up on key phrases related to food allergies in the local language. Being able to communicate your dietary restrictions effectively can help you navigate dining situations with confidence.
  • Always carry a supply of safe, allergy-friendly snacks with you. This ensures that you have something to eat in case suitable options are not readily available.
  • When purchasing food items, carefully read labels for allergen information, even if you’re familiar with the product in your home country. Ingredients and manufacturing processes may vary from one place to another.
  • When dining out, communicate your food allergy to restaurant staff. Clearly explain your dietary restrictions and ask about ingredients and preparation methods to ensure that your meal is safe to consume. Translation cards from Allergy UK will help support any language barriers.
  • Always carry your emergency medication, such as an epinephrine auto-injector, with you at all times. Ensure that it is easily accessible in case of an allergic reaction.
  • If you have severe allergies, consider staying in accommodations with kitchen facilities. This allows you to prepare your meals using safe ingredients and reduces the risk of accidental exposure.
  • Invest in comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, including allergic reactions. Familiarize yourself with the policy’s coverage for pre-existing conditions and emergency medical evacuation.
  • Keep abreast of local news and health advisories related to food safety and allergen recalls in your destination. Being informed allows you to make informed decisions about where to dine and what foods to avoid.
  • Finally, always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right or if you’re unsure about the safety of a particular food or dining establishment, trust your instincts and err on the side of caution.

Advice for young adults travelling

If you are a parent of a young adult about to embark on an unsupervised holiday or trip, our information and advice featured in our Parent Pathways digital hub can be viewed below.

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Socialising, travel and festivals

As your young adult ventures into the world of festivals and events, it’s natural to have concerns about their safety, especially if they have a food allergy. At our website, we provide invaluable resources and guidance to help parents navigate this exciting yet potentially challenging chapter in their child’s life.

Find out more