Safe Travel for Children With Severe Allergies

Planning is key for a safe trip when your child has a severe allergy.

Start with these tips to make the journey go smoothly.

Before You Travel

Contact the airlines ahead of time. Tell them about your child's health issue when you book your flight, and ask about its policies.

For instance, if your child is allergic to peanuts, find out if they’ll be served during the flight. If so, ask whether there are zones on the plane for people who don't eat peanuts. Or, if your child is allergic to animal dander, will there be pets flying with passengers?

Book an early flight. Allergen levels tend to be lowest in the morning, because most airlines clean their planes at the end of the business day. Aim for the first flight you can make.

Pack your own food, including allergy medications. That's the best way for you to know exactly what's in it and how it was prepared. For example, even if an airline doesn't serve peanuts, the meals they serve may be prepared in kitchens along with peanut products.

Contact your hotel. If your child has food allergies, book a hotel that offers rooms with kitchens. That way you won't have to eat all of your meals in restaurants.

Is your child allergic to dust mites? In that case, you might want bring your own mattress covers. If she’s allergic to mold, ask for a room far from the pool.

Talk to your hosts. Planning to stay with friends or relatives? Tell them about your child's allergies ahead of time. They’ll know not to offer foods with her triggers. If your child is allergic to cats or dogs, don’t stay with people who have pets.

Talk to your child. Remind him that even though travel is special, it doesn't mean he doesn't need to be careful. For instance, it's just as important away from home as it is there to watch what he eats or to avoid known triggers like someone else's pet. Practice ordering meals and reminding your child to start his order explaining his allergies and once meal is served give another reminder. Asking for confirmation from the manager is never a bad idea.

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Scope out menus. If food allergies are the issue, check menus online or ask the hotel staff to suggest a place. Then you can call and ask questions, or tell the staff about your needs. With advance notice, many chefs will prepare dishes that address allergy issues.

Check the map. You probably won't need it, but it may make you feel better to have the name and address of the nearest hospital or urgent care center.

See the doctor. Take your child to the allergist within a month of your trip. Make sure her health is good and her medication is up to date. Ask for a note to explain your child’s epinephrine auto-injector. It isn’t required, but it might cut down on questions and delays at airport security.

Get the latest security info. Check the Transportation Security Administration's website before your trip. Requirements for carry-on bags and check-in policies change often.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on December 14, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Anne Miranowski, MD, pediatric allergist, The Pediatric Lung Center, Fairfax, VA.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: "Tips to remember: traveling with allergies and asthma;" "On the Road With Allergies and Asthma;" and "Allergies make travel planning essential."

KidsHealth: "Food Allergies and Travel" and "Food allergies."

Food Allergy Initiative: "Traveling."

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