5 Things that Travelers with Food Allergies Might Experience (and which may or may not happen to me EVERY. SINGLE. TRIP.)

1. Fear that your epinephrine auto-injector will be confiscated when you fly

Epi-bag

Source

Being an upstanding citizen of the world, I don’t worry about a little thing like airport security, right? Testing my speed and agility while somewhat disrobing in line as TSA officials shout orders? Bring it! A machine that allows complete strangers to see right through my clothes? Do what you will! A pat down by an official allowed to put their hands wherever? Yawn. Even though I have steeled myself to certain indignities, one fear still remains: that airport security will confiscate my epinephrine auto-injector. Right until the last moment when I push my carry-on items through the x-ray machine, I cling to my medical alert necklace like it’s some sort of protective amulet, praying that my auto-injector will remain in my possession. So far, I’ve had no problems, and recently learned that according to TSA rules I should never have any while traveling in the United States. However, as I plan to travel outside of the US more and more, my lingering concern has been compounding. Have you ever worried that your important medications were going to be taken away by airport security? What has your experience been flying with an epinephrine auto-injector?

 

2. You end up drinking your dinner

Drinking dinner1

Source

We’ve all been there. That Thai restaurant with fabrics saturated with gorgeous colors, lilting music, and a deadly side of peanuts. That café with its deliciously wafting aromas, excited chatter, and allergen crossover from hell. That seemingly innocuous restaurant where the servers inform you that they just can’t guarantee your allergen-free safety. Whether it’s because you are too jetlagged to move or are traveling with a friend and don’t want to be “that person,” somehow you end up drinking your dinner. This could range from guzzling tea to gulping beer. People think you’re on a diet or really thirsty or an unadventurous eater, but really you’re just trying not to die. Share how you’ve dealt with a similar situation!

 

3. Peanuts on a Plane!

peanuts

It’s a horrifying scene that plays over and over again for those among us with peanut allergies. The snack tray rolling through, a happy time for many, is nothing short of a nightmare. The flight attendants hand out small packs of nutty death, and we sweat bullets as the people around us carelessly open them, perhaps spill a few nuts about, and crunch on what feels like our nerves. Major air carriers warn that there may be peanut (a known top allergen) dust suspended in the air or on surfaces and that they can’t be held responsible. Translation: Fly at your own risk. Come again? Do you think airplane snacks should undergo an overhaul?

 

4. You find safe meals and you stick to them

Irish breakfast

Source

In January of this year, when I was in Ireland, breakfast was literally the most important meal of the day because it was often the safest and only meal of the day. I’m not complaining. I discovered the sweet joy of raw milk (apologies to Louis Pasteur), devoured surprisingly well-spiced sausages, and found out that the Irish know what they’re doing with potatoes. But why was this the only meal that I was eating? Well, every hotel that I stayed in had just about the same breakfast.  When I informed them of my food allergies during breakfast time, they informed me that I was safe.  For some reason, finding allergen-free dinners both inside and outside of hotels always proved to be a challenge.  For example, one evening in a Galway hotel, I told a waiter about my food allergies and asked if the restaurant could guarantee a nut-free meal.  He responded, in a full Irish brogue, “Ooooh, I’d say you have a 50/50 chance, but the odds are in your favor!” Wink.  I drank my dinner that evening (see #2) and the chips I was hoarding in my hotel room never tasted so good.  Have you found one safe food or meal and stuck to it while traveling?

 

5. Your food allergies make for a conversation starter 

Pulp Fiction

Source (Pulp Fiction 1994)

Somehow, your allergies will probably make it into a conversation with random people you meet during your journeys. I find that the most popular one thus far has been about Pulp Fiction, the one movie that seemingly everyone has seen except me. However, it is mentioned so often that I know that there’s a scene with Uma Thurman getting stabbed in the heart with epinephrine. What does this turn into? A teachable moment that stretches into a conversation. Well, first of all, it’s an auto-injecting shot that goes into the thigh and can go straight through jeans… I know.  Unintentionally sexy.  How have your food allergies struck up conversation?

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4 thoughts on “5 Things that Travelers with Food Allergies Might Experience (and which may or may not happen to me EVERY. SINGLE. TRIP.)

  1. I have always wondered about the peanuts on planes. I had hoped that people with peanut allergies had some sort of option to tell the airline ahead of time that they may die if exposed to peanuts so that the airline would not serve them on that flight! I had no idea that every time a person with peanut allergies flies, they take their life in their hands! I thought peanuts were one of the most common severe allergies in the world! You’d think crackers or cheezits or something would be a safer bet for the airline. I mean, even if they say they can’t be held responsible, it doesn’t really look good for them in the press if one of their passengers dies because they served peanuts, does it?

    1. But you’ll always have most people who want their rights to peanuts! Trumps my right to fly without fear every time. That’s right! I said it.

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