Allergies

I have some allergy concerns about traveling to France. I have to carry an Epipen just for emergency reasons. Do I need to bring a copy of my prescription with me? Another question is can I bring it on the plane with me? My allergies consist of shell fish and nuts (peanuts and tree nuts). Should I worry about any food prep and what should I watch for?

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1328 posts

whats that boyscout motto? the allergies i have wont put me in the hospital if it happens (knock on wood). just a little note. one one of my plane trips, they announced over the PA to not eat any peanuts onboard that flight due to someone with a really really really bad peanut allergy. not sure if anyone did, but nothing was ever said of it afterwards. the plane also didnt server any peanuts either. if you know your carrier, i would call their Customer Service and see what they say. happy trails.

Posted by Ann
New York, NY, NY
57 posts

On an index card write(in French) "I am allergic to" than list the foods (in French) and when you order something tell the waiter that you are allergic and ask if any of the items are in what you are ordering. I suggest you make the list very specific, ie clams, crab etc not just shellfish; walnuts, pecans etc. I am sure you aware that these items are often used in places you would not expect to find them, like peanut butter as a thickener in a stew or shrimp to make fish broth. Do this even if you order something vegetarian or vegan, not everyine understands that shellfish is not vegetarian. I am allergic to eggs and chicken and same across an entree in the vegetarian section of a menu that had chicken stock in the sauce...

Posted by Donald
Wichita, KS, United States
52 posts

As a physician I have all my patients who travel domestic or international, carry a letter typed on my office stationary that states their diagnosis and the medications that they need. As long as you have the letter and the meds in their original containers I have never had a problem nor have my patients. I would encourage you to take the epipen in your carry on, if you had an allergic reaction while on the plane it could literally be life saving. I can not stress enough the importance of a signed letter from your physician, TSA and customs people are required to allow emergency meds to be with the traveler in case of need. Hope this helps.
Don

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7935 posts

As a non-physician but somebody who passes through dozens of airports/borders in a year, my stupid pills are in the weekly gizmos rubber-banded back to back and stuffed into a ditty bag. It's been opened once and shook once. The time it was shaken I was asked what was in it. The epipen flops around loose in the tube - - it's never been given a second glance. The problem with writing down something like 'shrimp' in a foreign language is that it leaves off crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and others. In Chinese, for example, there are at least a double dozen critters with distinct names that look like plain old shrimps. A five year old kids drawing of a creature with a couple of claws would probably give a better generic example. The French word, noisette, probably wouldn't encompass all of the things that could bother you, especially if they're incorporated into other products such as oils. What you need is a couple of short paragraphs written by a native speaker - - a good one. My French is fluent, idiomatic, and unaccented but I don't have the guts to take a stab at it because I might miss something. There's a couple of people who post here that probably could if they wanted to stick their necks out. Also, there's nothing wrong with asking to snoop around in the kitchen.

Posted by Kathy
Idaho Falls, Idaho
2 posts

Thank you all for your responses. It is always a little scary doing something for the first time and not knowing what to expect. Don thank you for the words of advice. I hadn't thought of a doctors letter to bring with me. I will get one from my doctor. Again thank you all for the advice.
Kathy

Posted by Valerie
Tacoma
142 posts

Kathy - I have a food allergy for which I carry an Epipen. I do have a printout of the prescription for it, which I carry while I travel, but I have never had anyone question me about it and have taken it in and out of at least 15 countries in Europe, including France. I do worry about food prep when I travel - my particular food pops up on foods in Europe in ways that I would never imagine in the US. Although I do eat in restaurants some, I eat most of my meals in the apartments I rent in each city. An apartment and a nearby grocery store make eating overseas a lot less stressful for me.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7817 posts

Kathy we did a family tour where one little girl had peanut and shellfish allergies.. we went through several countries and the mom was very well prepared.
First off she did not bring ONE epi pen , the little girl herself carried two and the mom carried two or three. The mom told me an epi pen injection does not stop an attergic reaction indefinately and that each shot was only good for 15-30 minutes so they carry mulitiples in case they are far from a hospital. I thought that was smart. The mom also had little cards that stated in mulitple languages the allergy. She had ordered them from somewhere, I am sure this would be easy to find, just google "allergy translation cards" or something. Lastly the mom was concerned about cross contaimnation.. she didn't let the little girl get ice cream because she said they sometimes mix up the scoops between flavors and they avoided any tree nuts ( even though allergy was peanut) just in case.. so mom had packed some treats from home for the child. On this same tour was a lady and dd with gluten intolerance. they brought some of their own snacks too, and in some places they would talk to cooks and were given gluten free pasta dishes.. Good luck, , many people travel with allergies.. you have to take precautions, same as at home.. Have fun.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1963 posts

Kathy, If you would like something to use in restaurants, such as a sentence stating your allergy and list of foods you can't eat, we would be glad to translate it into French for you. My husband is Parisian. We know this allergy can be life threatening. Just send it in a private message. Bets

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7935 posts

For Bets: Ten stars.......and a sloppy wet kiss on the forehead when the other dude ain't looking.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1963 posts

The sloppy kiss and stars are for the other dude because I asked him if he would do the translation and he said "sure." We know how serious these allergies can be.