Traveling for the first time with your child who has a mild to severe allergy can be very stressful. It racks your nerves as you check, and recheck all the things you need to pack, and all the precautions you need to take. But have you done enough? Did you forget something major? Consider these five helpful tips for traveling with family who have allergies:
1. Alert your service providers. If you are traveling by air, speak with the airline well in advance to make sure you prevent an unexpected reaction. Depending on the allergy, the airline may have information for you on how they deal with this specific allergy. If it is a food allergy they may have to make other arrangements for the type of catering they have on board the aircraft. They may ask for a doctors note or for specific incidents when your family member had a reaction. They will want to know your needs, because they undoubtedly want to avoid a problem as much as you do.
2. Get a doctor’s note. This may have its advantages when you are checking in for your flight. If the airline has adjusted their procedures to accommodate your family, you may want to present the note as a double check measure. It reinforces the potential seriousness of your situation and keeps your needs fresh in the crew’s mind as the flight prepares for takeoff.
3. Keep at least one Epipen backup. An Epipen only lasts around fifteen minutes, and it may take some time to get an airplane back on the ground in an emergency. When flying overseas, ask your doctor for advice, as an emergency landing would be much more difficult. You might want two backups, just in case.
4. Be aware of what’s being brought on board. Planes are confined spaces, and the air is circulated over and over again, making someone more susceptible to a reaction. Passengers may bring or purchase food that your family member is allergic to, so you ought to speak with your flight attendant- perhaps they could make an announcement, or at the very least help keep an eye out for passengers nearby who may be eating peanuts, etc.
5. Always plan on a severe reaction, even if it isn’t likely. Allergies can always change over the years. A mild allergy can became severe without one’s knowledge. You don’t need to frighten the flight crew, but you may as well prepare them for the worst, and assume your child’s allergy is potentially severe. As long as they take it seriously, they will be ready to help in an emergency.