As someone who has been cursed with a borderline ridiculous amount of allergies, I’ve now decided to live in a constant state of denial about them and have, in effect, stopped preparing for the fact that I may die at any moment. I am aware however, that this probably isn’t the best course of action to take while travelling, so I’ve compiled a list of the things you should do if you’re like me and are predisposed to death whenever your surroundings change.
1. Always keep your meds on you
This might seem like a simple concept, but believe me, it catches everyone out. When I was returning from Peru this summer, a guy sitting near me started having an allergic reaction and luckily I had some antihistamines on me. You do not want to be stuck in that situation surrounded by healthy, medication-less people. You should also always carry extra medication in a resealable bag in case the first set get wet/otherwise damaged.
2. Notify airlines, hotels and other relevant people/places of severe food allergies
I’m pretty lucky when it comes to food allergies, because I have yet to discover any life-threatening ones. However, I’m aware that some of you will need to take extra precautions. In terms of airlines, it is best to notify them a few days before you fly, because you really do not want to go into anaphylactic shock at 30,000ft. If you’re also worried about the food wherever you are staying, there are plenty of self-catered options available. Look for hotel rooms with kitchens or hostels with apartment-style complexes. If you do some research before you set off and you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
3. Be aware of nearby emergency services
Although I hope this information isn’t necessary, things do occasionally go awry. For safety which extends beyond allergies, it is best to know where the nearest clinic or emergency room is. That way you can save yourself prolonged hours of pain whilst trying to ask for directions in a language you most likely don’t know. When I thought I had decompression sickness in South Africa (it luckily turned out to be a minor chest infection), my teacher knew the location of the nearest hospital, saving us hours of aimless driving.
4. Don’t forget every day necessities
This might sound a bit redundant, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget the things you take for granted. I’m allergic to soap, which means I either have to slather myself in eczema cream after touching it, or I have to remember my prescribed cream that can double up as hand and body-wash. I’m also severely allergic to a lot of detergents, something I frequently forget. This summer, I stayed in a Peruvian hostel and had the worst night’s sleep ever. This whole situation could have been avoided if I just remembered to bring full-coverage pyjamas.
5. TRAVEL INSURANCE!!!!!!
This one’s self-explanatory. Even if you think you don’t need it, you do. And if you’re bothering to read this article, you definitely do.
Even though I’m basically allergic to life, I don’t let it dictate my travel destinations or what I do. If I’m still in one piece after my skin turning scaly upon landing in South Africa; my toes and fingers melting in the Tuscan heat; and my entire body rashing up due to pollution levels in Hong Kong, you can go anywhere and do anything you want to.
Life’s all about taking risks and just living, so don’t let your shoddy health stop you.
Read more about of Sophie’s adventures on her blog ‘The Reformed Flake’