30 Tips for Traveling with Allergies

June 2022   Linda Armstrong  |  ✓  Medically reviewed by: Gary Falcetano, PA-C, AE-C; Fabio Iachetti, MD; Rebecca Rosenberger, MMSc, PA-C

A licensed Physician Assistant with more than 25 years of diverse experience in emergency and disaster medicine, primary care, and allergy and immunology, Gary Falcetano is the U.S. Clinical Affairs Manager for Allergy in ImmunoDiagnostics at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Fabio Iachetti is a licensed physician with more than 15 years of diverse experience in several disease areas such as allergy, CV, pain, GI, rheumatology, urology, and diabetology. He is a Senior Medical Manager for Allergy in ImmunoDiagnostics Global Medical Affairs at Thermo Fisher Scientific.In addition to being a practicing Physician Assistant in the field of allergy and immunology for more than 20 years, Rebecca Rosenberger is the Associate Director for Clinical Affairs & Education, ImmunoDiagnostics at Thermo Fisher Scientific. 

If you or your child has allergies, you probably know how to avoid triggers at home. Traveling, however, is a whole different ballgame, particularly because it’s a break from your normal—and safe—routine.

So how can you minimize your allergy risks while traveling? First, it’s important to understand which allergens you’re sensitized to. A simple blood test can aid diagnosis. Once you know your triggers, here are 30 allergy-friendly travel strategies (loosely organized around allergen types) to ensure your allergies don’t trip you up while you’re traveling.

Travel Advice for Allergy Sufferers

A little preparation goes a long way with regard to allergies. Here are several steps to lay the groundwork for a safe and enjoyable trip.1-4

  1. Pack any necessary over-the-counter medicines and refill prescriptions in advance of the trip.
  2. Bring medically necessary liquids and medications in their labeled containers. Keep them in your carry-on bag (as opposed to checked luggage). Such items in excess of typical TSA limits are usually allowed but must be screened.
  3. Locate the nearest hospitals in all of your destinations so you know where to go in an emergency.
  4. Check your health insurance policy to see whether emergency care or healthcare visits are covered at your destinations.
  5. Learn the word for your allergy in the primary language of your destination (if necessary) so you can communicate your allergy effectively.
  6. Wear a medical-identification tag of some sort if you have asthma or severe allergies.
  7. Keep your allergist’s phone number or other emergency contact number handy.
  8. Ask your healthcare provider or allergist for any specific travel-related risks and precautions.
  9. Check your chosen airline’s allergy policies.
  10. Arm yourself with information about your particular triggers and even more ways to potentially reduce exposure. Our Allergen Fact Sheets offer in-depth info on more than 60 allergens. 


Tips for Traveling with Food Allergies

Food allergies can be particularly tricky while on the road. These strategies can help you manage allergies more effectively.1-2,5-7

  1. Make chef cards, and print copies in multiple languages if necessary. The cards should name your allergen and ingredients that typically contain it. You can hand the cards to staff at restaurants. 
  2. Bring printed copies of your emergency care plan and take them everywhere.
  3. Pack your own nonperishable, safe-to-eat food as a fallback.
  4. Determine if your airline has a meal that’s safe for people with your allergy prior to the trip and plan accordingly.
  5. Contact lodging facilities and ask about their food-allergy policies.
  6. Consider selecting accommodations with a kitchen to allow you to prepare some meals yourself and have fresh, allergy-safe food on hand.
  7. Identify restaurants in your vacation destination and call ahead to investigate their allergy policies.
  8. Check the laws regarding food labelling for the countries you’ll visit, as these regulations vary around the world.
  9. Carry your epinephrine auto-injector at all times (if applicable).
  10. Wipe down your airplane seat and tray table with disinfectant to prevent contact reactions or skin contact with food particles. 


Travel Tactics for Seasonal and Year-Round Allergies

Suffering from pollen and indoor allergies can really blow (literally). But there are ways to limit exposure while on the road.1,4,8

  1. Check the pollen forecast for your destination, and plan your itinerary accordingly, especially if you’re thinking of spending considerable time outdoors. Pollen.com is a good resource if you’re traveling within the United States.
  2. Request nonsmoking, pet-free, and mold-free hotel rooms. Or better yet, request allergy-friendly rooms if available.
  3. Consider bringing a hypoallergenic pillow cover if you’re allergic to molds or dust mites.
  4. Replace your car’s air filters and clean the HVAC system to combat pollen and mold allergens.
  5. Bring a saline spray or mist for airplane travel, as dry plane environments can aggravate allergy symptoms.
  6. Keep car windows rolled up and the air conditioning on if traveling during high pollen or pollution times.
  7. Drive in the early morning or late evening, as air pollution levels are typically lowest at this time.
  8. Don’t use airline pillows and blankets.
  9. Close hotel-room windows and use the air conditioning to reduce indoor pollen exposure.
  10. Shower and change your clothes after returning from outdoors to minimize the amount of pollen brought inside.


Preparation is your best tool when traveling with allergies. With the aforementioned strategies and a quick chat with your healthcare provider, you’ll be flying the friendly skies—or hitting the open road—without a care or an “achoo!” in the world. 

Tools for Understanding Allergies

 

Track allergy symptoms and prepare for a visit with a healthcare provider.

Learn about specific allergens, including common symptoms, management, and relief. 

Are you a healthcare provider? Get comprehensive information on hundreds of whole allergens and allergen components.

  1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America [Internet]. Arlington, VA: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; 2015 Sept. Available from: https://www.aafa.org/traveling-with-asthma-allergies. (Accessed Oct 2019.)
  2. Food Allergy Research & Education [Internet]. McLean, VA: Food Allergy Research & Education; 2021. Available from: https://www.foodallergy.org/resources/tips-international-travel. (Accessed Nov 2021.)
  3. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology [Internet]. Milwaukee WI, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2020 Sep 28. Available from: https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/dream-vacation-with-food-allergies. (Accessed Oct 2019.)
  4. Pollen.com [Internet]. Plymouth Meeting, PA: IQVIA Inc.; 4 Aug 2015. Available from: https://www.pollen.com/allergy/travel-with-allergies. (Accessed Oct 2019.)
  5. The Anaphylaxis Campaign (Preparing to Travel) [Internet]. Farnborough, UK: The Anaphylaxis Campaign; 2021 Nov. Available from: https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/living-with-anaphylaxis/travelling/preparing-to-travel/. (Accessed Nov 2021.)
  6. The Anaphylaxis Campaign (The Day of Your Flight) [Internet]. Farnborough, UK: The Anaphylaxis Campaign; 2021 Nov. Available from: https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/living-with-anaphylaxis/travelling/the-day-of-your-flight/. (Accessed Nov 2021.)
  7. Food Allergy Canada [Internet]. Toronto, Canada: Food Allergy Canada; 2021. Available from: https://foodallergycanada.ca/living-with-allergies/ongoing-allergy-management/managing-in-different-environments/travel. (Accessed Nov 2021.)
  8. Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education [Internet]. Lyndhurst, OH: Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education; 11 Feb 2021. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/best-tips-for-traveling-with-allergies/. (Accessed Nov 2021.)