Up, Up and Away With Food Allergies

For most people traveling is stressful all on its own. Now add to it traveling with a food allergy, and it can be a most overwhelming experience.  However, if you plan in advance, do your research and communicate with the places you are traveling, it can help to make it a relaxing and safe trip instead.  

To start with you should make a list of your special needs and requirements with regard to your food allergies.

  Be sure to think about both your travel and accommodation needs.  Think about who you are traveling with and where you are going, and how this can be factored into planning your trip.  Once you have outlined this information, you can tackle planning the details of the trip. 


  • If you are going to be traveling by air if is most important to read the airline’s allergy policies.  Most of this information is posted on their websites or can be found out by calling them directly.  Be aware that each airline has their own policies so do not assume they are all the same. 
  • Check what type of food or snacks the airline is serving. Depending on your particular food allergy, the complimentary snacks may not be something you are able to consume.   If you have a peanut/tree nut allergy you might want to opt for airline carriers that do not serve complimentary peanuts/tree nuts with their beverage service.  This will decrease your risk of contamination on these flights.  Some airlines, with advance notice, will substitute the peanuts/tree nuts with pretzels or some other more appropriate snack.  However, it is important to remember that airlines can not enforce other passengers to refrain from eating peanuts/tree nuts on board.  The airline can alert passengers about the allergies or ask for them to not eat nuts on board, but it is not enforceable at this time. 
  • When you book your flight, be sure to let the carrier know about your allergies so that the crew can be made aware prior to your trip. Quite often the airline will let you pre-board so that you can check your seats to be sure there is no trace of nuts. 
  • It is often recommended to fly on early morning flights, as most aircraft is cleaned at the end of the day, so there is less of a chance for crumbs or contamination on board.
  • Always be sure to travel with your own snacks so that you are prepared with food to eat on board.  Also, pack extra food in the event that the flight is delayed.  
  • Be sure to have your allergy medication with you at all times, in the event of a reaction.  It is advised to carry a note from your doctor indicating your food allergy. It is important to let someone who is traveling with you know about your allergy and what to do in the event of an emergency while in-flight.


  • Prior to booking your stay be sure to find out if the hotel/resort can accommodate your food allergy needs.  Speak to a hotel manager and be sure to get their name so that you can have a contact person when you get there.  
  • Most hotels can provide refrigerators if needed for any food or medication you may bring with you. It is important to arrange for one in your room prior to arriving. 
  • Find out about restaurants on-site, view menus and make reservations in advance.  Where possible email the restaurant managers to let them know about your upcoming stay.
  • Even if you visited prior, be sure to contact the facility ahead of time to check that they still have options with regard to your allergies.
  • Find out if they have an on-site doctor or nurse in the event of an emergency.  Be familiar with where the nearest hospital or medical emergency center is located.
  • There are many hotels/resorts that now offer special packages and menus for those with food allergies.  Take a look at which places are most familiar with meeting your needs. 
  • Research nearby restaurants or supermarkets that might have additional food options for you to include on your trip.

Additional support

  • Many of the food allergy support groups and foundations offer carrying cards that explain details of various food allergies.  Keeping these cards in your wallet while you travel often come in handy.  You can provide them to your waiter/waitresses to help them to better understand your needs while dining out.
  • Check out menus on-line, especially for chain restaurants, that might have specific menus for those with food allergies.  Pre-planning what you might order while on your trip may alleviate some of the travel anxiety.
  • Be sure to ask around to family and friends who might have suggestions on traveling with your food allergies.  Quite often other people with similar food allergies are your best resource with tips on where to go while on vacation.

Following these tips will help to reduce any additional stress that can occur when traveling.  With your food allergy needs addressed, you can sit back and enjoy the flight. 

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