Are you worried about travelling with allergies? Read Ella’s great advice on planning for a holiday and some simple precautions that we should all be taking before we head off on our adventures.
When your child has eczema, particularly if they have an associated condition, such as asthma or a food allergy, a trip away requires more planning. From ensuring that you book suitable accommodation to taking all precautions to ensure you are prepared should they experience a flare up while you are on holiday, travelling is not a question of simply booking a trip and packing your bags! However, your family can still enjoy a break together when you follow the advice below.
If dust mites trigger your child’s eczema, you may prefer to opt for allergy-friendly accommodation. Here they use items such as anti-allergy duvets, mattress protectors and pillows to lower the risk of a reaction. However, this type of accommodation is also usually happy to provide suitable food if one or more of your group suffers from a food allergy or intolerance. If your child has a severe reaction when even traces of the allergen are eaten, you may still prefer to sort out your own meals, in which case self-catering accommodation is the best option.
Travelling by air
In certain cases you may need a fitness to fly certificate depending on your child’s medical condition or that of anyone else in your party. When booking your flight, state if anyone has an allergy so that an appropriate meal is available; though this is best avoided if you have anaphylaxis and even if this is not the case, always double-check with staff that the meal is allergen-free before eating it. However, if they have a severe nut allergy triggered by merely inhaling tiny particles of nut, be aware that even if the airline doesn’t sell nuts themselves, other passengers may take them on board; make the cabin staff aware of their allergy when you board. Always make sure that an EpiPen or any essential medication is easily accessible should you need it during the flight. When carrying these items though, you need to have a letter from your doctor explaining their health problems and treatment; you may be asked to present this at airport security and it also ensures the correct treatment is given in an emergency.
Medication on holiday
Always make sure that you arrange any necessary prescriptions in plenty of time and that you take more medication than you actually need in case of loss or damage; though it’s always useful to know where the nearest doctor or emergency department is to your destination should you need them. If you child uses an EpiPen, it’s advisable to take two or more kits away on holiday in case they suffer from more than one attack. It’s also worth remembering that exposure to sunlight and high temperatures causes changes to the adrenaline in these pens, so whenever possible keep them in the shade.
Arranging holiday cover
If you are travelling outside the UK, always arrange travel insurance before you go. This is especially important when one of you has a medical condition that may need attention while you are away. With so many policies to choose from, you might be unsure where to start when selecting one suitable for your child’s medical needs. However, to begin with, it’s no different from selecting any other travel cover; you need to check which policies are suitable for the age range of your party, the destination, duration of travel and the activities you plan to take part in while you are away. Having established which policies meet these criteria, it’s then time to check which will cover treatment for the health problems in question, as it’s never safe to assume that allergies or any other condition are covered automatically. However, even if they cover the necessary condition, check exactly what help is available – for instance, if your child requires an EpiPen to manage an allergic reaction and uses it while away, will they offer a replacement? – and the excess you can expect to pay on any claims. It’s then time to compare costs between the policies, but the best policy to cover your child’s medical condition won’t necessarily be the cheapest. When it comes to making the purchase, always be clear about the medical problems your family has and what these entail, so there is no dispute if you need to make a claim. If for any reason you can’t find a suitable standard travel insurance to cover your conditions, policies designed for people with pre-existing health problems are available and don’t forget that some providers have links with allergy and health charities to offer specialist insurance at no extra cost.
Highlighting your medical needs
Although your child may already have a medical alert bracelet highlighting their medical needs, when travelling to another country where English is not the main language, it is also sensible to invest in a card that states their health problem and its management in the right language. If it’s an allergy, a message for restaurant staff should also be included. While you can make one of these cards yourself by researching the appropriate translation, you can buy ready-made allergy translation cards at a small cost from Allergy UK to give you peace of mind while you are away.