Theme parks and cruise ships, popular during winter travel season, increasingly cater to people with asthma and allergies. 

If you have recently been to an airport, train station or even an interstate highway, you know Americans are always on the move. No longer are vacations confined to the summer. Winter travel is as popular as ever – especially to theme parks and cruise ships that take you to warm-weather locales.

Don’t let food allergies prevent you and your family from enjoying your time away. Allergy-free travel is possible – all it takes is a bit of extra planning.

Plan Ahead

In the excitement of going to a theme park or taking a cruise, it’s easy to forget to follow daily treatment routines and keep emergency medications nearby.

“If you have food allergies, make sure you carry two epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times,” says Nancy Ott, MD, an allergy and asthma specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Before you depart:

  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss any health concerns related to your trip and update your Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan.
  • Going on a cruise? Notify the cruise line of food allergies when you book your trip. Some require six weeks notice for special dietary accommodations. Request a cabin with a refrigerator to store allergy-safe foods.
  • If you’re traveling by airplane, contact the airline to report your allergy and ask what foods and snacks are served on board. Make sure your epinephrine auto-injectors are clearly labeled for inspection at the security gate; bring a note from a doctor explaining your need to carry emergency medication. Always pack epinephrine auto-injectors in carry-on bags; keep them with you, not in an overhead compartment.
  • Locate an allergist, hospital and/or pharmacy near your destination. Cruise ships typically have a medical clinic and pharmacy on board.
  • Bring your health insurance cards and identification. Wear a medic-alert bracelet.

Visiting Theme Parks

At most theme parks, restaurants and quick-service eateries will accommodate people with food allergies. Mention your food allergies when making restaurant reservations, and again on arrival.

Most theme parks allow guests with food allergies to bring their own snacks and meals. Check to see what documentation you may need.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Orlando, Florida, has installed epinephrine auto-injector stations throughout the park and marked them on guide maps. In addition, the first aid stations have nurses nearby trained to administer epinephrine auto-injectors.

Cruise Control

“Buffets are common on cruises and cross-contact with allergenic foods can cause an allergic reaction,” Dr. Ott says. “Allergens can also accidentally contaminate your food via shared pots and pans, cooking oil and utensils.”

She adds: “Eat in ship restaurants that will cook and serve individual meals instead of buffets. And before ordering, talk with the server or ask to speak with the chef so you can discuss your food allergies and cross-contact concerns.”

Check out restaurant menus for the next day and alert the staff of any concerns. Land excursions require your full attention: If you’re uncertain about eating at restaurant on shore, pack your own snacks or meal. And don’t forget your epinephrine auto-injectors.

Reviewed by Tera Crisalida, PA-C