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It can be tough to travel to foreign countries if you suffer from food intolerances – and even harder if you’re planning to traverse the globe with a peanut allergy. However, whilst it can pose its challenges, it shouldn’t stop you from living your holiday dreams and seeing the world.
It may be tricky to find travel insurance that covers severe allergies, but that's why we're here to help!
You’re going to have to do some research in order to find a travel insurer that will cover your peanut allergy.
Typically food intolerances such as coeliac disease or lactose intolerance and some allergies like rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, eczema and hay fever are automatically covered. However allergies to peanuts or shellfish (that you already knew about) are not.
When trying to ascertain whether an insurer does cover, look for the words "anaphylaxis" or "allergy" in the policy wording. It's fair to say you should never just assume you are covered or you could end up seriously out of pocket if you find yourself in hospital overseas.
Call your insurer directly to see if they will insure you. More likely they will assess your condition on a case-by-case basis. The general rule of thumb is that insurers do not cover any condition that already exist before your trip, therefore you may be required to complete a medical evaluation before you are given the green light on cover.
The good news is that most insurers cover conditions that are unknown. So if you experience an allergic reaction for the first time during your holiday, you may find that you are covered if you were not aware of the allergy at the time of purchasing your policy.
We've done a bit of research and found a few companies that will consider cover for peanut allergies; but you do need to complete a medical assessment and apply for cover with most insurers directly for this condition.
There is one insurance company that we found that automatically include peanut allergies and that was Covermore. They provide cover automatically if you fit the below criteria:
- in the last 6 months, you haven’t required treatment by a medical practitioner for this condition.
- you have no known respiratory conditions (e.g. Asthma).
- the condition has been stable for more than 12 months;
- and there is no planned surgery, treatment or specialist review;
- and you have not attended hospital for treatment for the condition in the past 12 months;
- and cover does not extend to cover any routine treatment or management of your approved pre existing medical condition(s); for example, blood test and prescription renewals.
Research your destination: Before you decide where you’re going, have a good think about the implications should you get sick overseas away from loved ones. It might be wiser to pick a destination which has a lower risk of attack.
Go to your doctor: Once you’ve decided where you’re going, take a trip to your good old GP and they may be able to advice you on foods or places to avoid. As well as tips for travelling with allergies.
Inform your airline: If you know the airline serves peanuts they should be able to change the snack and meal on your particular flight.
Take medication: A Epi-Pen can save the day and your life! When visiting foreign lands don’t go anywhere without it. Make sure you have this on you at all times as well as any anti-histamines you have been subscribed.
Ask what’s in it: Always always always check the ingredients of your food, even if you are usually confident in what something contains.
Learn the local lingo: Make sure you’re clued up on ‘nut’ ‘peanut’ ‘allergy’ etc in the language of the destination you are visiting. This will be invaluable when eating out in restaurants. Even better write down the words to show the waiters or chefs in case your accent doesn’t quite make the cut. Getting lost in translation saying you are allergic to eggs rather than peanuts will do you no favours.
Bring your own snacks: When in doubt, prepare your own meals and snacks so you can enjoy your trip and all the fantastic things that come with visiting new places without the worry (or impending doom) of having an allergic reaction.
Have an emergency plan in case complications occur. This should include a list of any emergency contacts, information about the medications you are how to administer.
Be prepared: You can’t always predict when a peanut reaction will happen, but you can be prepared. Making sure you have taken the time to should an reaction happen.
Depending on how severe your nut allergy, flying may not be on the top of your list of fun things to do! Whether it’s a severe allergic reaction, or a mild rash, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s going to be a frightening experience having an allergic reaction when you’re 35,000 feet up in the air. Here’s some tips to follow so you can (hopefully) reduce that from happening.
Contact your airline: Find out if your airline is one of the pesky ones that still serves peanuts as snacks. If they do, let them know your dietary requirements ahead of flying so they can accommodate your snacks and meals.
Bring your own food: Always a good option to give peace of mind so you know what your food contains.
Pick the first flight of the day: That way you can be pretty sure the plane has been fully cleaned after the last flight the day before.
Talk to ground staff and flight attendants: At the gate, and onboard to notify the staff of your peanut allergy.
Clean your seat: Wipe down your seat and surrounding area to eliminate any previous food crumbs that may have dropped from previous passengers.
Have your meds with you: Always carry your Epi-Pen with you with a letter from your doctor for security explaining why you need to take this on the plane with you.
The world’s a diverse place, and these days you can get almost any cuisine your heart desires no matter where you are on the planet. Having said that there are certainly some countries that are more notorious with their love of peanuts than others, so you might want to consider this when choosing where to holiday.
Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and most of South-East Asia use a lot of peanuts in their cooking. As well as South American and Chinese dishes. And India uses a lot of cashews. However Europe, Japan and the USA not so much.
If being around peanut really freaks you out, stick to destinations where there are lots of foods choices, and follow our tips for eating out overseas….
Just because it might be harder to find a nut-free meal, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try the local cuisine. Here’s a few tips to help you eat out in foreign countries.
Research the ingredients: If you know you’re going to be eating Nasi Goreng in Indonesia, Gumbo in Louisiana or Paella in Spain…do your research before you tuck in. Even if you can’t see any peanuts, there could still be there, so find out all the ingredients and ask the chef what’s in your delicious dish.
Watch out for breakfast buffets: Especially in the States, beware of the bowls of peanut butter that can be out in force at the all-you-can-eat buffets. A mis-placed finger could cause chaos!
Stick to well-known restaurants: We’ve all done it, been in a remote island but been desperate for a burger. If you’re worried about the local cuisine, there’s nothing wrong in sticking to foods you know will be safe to eat. Did someone say Mcdonalds!
Realise the language barrier: It’s far better to not put words into your waiters mouth. If there is a clear language barrier, it can be better to stay quiet rather than confusing the situation. You may end up with extra peanuts rather than none at all!
Use Google translate: To look up all the names of the ingredients that are listed on the menu.
Eat slowly: Some people can tell almost immediately that they are going to have an allergic reaction. Eating slowly will reduce the amount of peanuts you may consume if you realise there is some in your food.
Have your Epi-Pen: If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again. Always carry your Epi-Pen with you in case of a reaction.
Whilst living with a peanut allergy can make things a tad tricker, it shouldn’t stop you from travelling and living out your bucket list. A bit of forward planning, along with a comprehensive travel insurance policy you can go anywhere your heart desires!