Travelling to Tanzania with Food Allergies

My name is Caitlyn and I am allergic to wheat, eggs and nuts.  One of my biggest interests is travelling.  I personally caught the travel bug in high school when I travelled for a week and a half to England and France on a school trip.  My first solo trip happened right after I graduated high school when I travelled to Costa Rica for two weeks, where I volunteered to work at a sea turtle conservation site. Currently, after finishing my second year of nursing school, I am combining two of my passions—travelling and nursing by volunteering for three weeks in Tanzania working in a hospital with the organization Work the World.  With any kind of travelling there is a lot of planning and organization involved, especially if your travels are for an extended period of time.  On top of this, having allergies adds a lot of responsibility and things that need to be accounted for.

Though this isn’t my first time travelling abroad, to organize this trip there were still a lot of measures and precautions I had to take to make sure I stay safe with my allergies.  Precautions that I took included making sure I will be able to safely eat when I am in Tanzania.  To do this, I informed the organization I am working with about my allergies very early on.  This allowed them to take steps to ensure there is food for me. I will be staying at a house through the organization that has a cook who can make sure all meals will be allergy friendly.  When it comes to eating out, language barrier is a huge issue and something that always concerns me a great deal when travelling.  To help with this, I was able to find a company that provides wallet size pocket cards that state all my allergy information in Swahili.  I will still have to be vigilant when eating food, always carry my medicine with me and make sure I know where local medical facilities are located just in case.

Other preparations I have taken to make sure I stay safe during my trip with my allergies include making sure all my medications are up to date (something that should be done anyways!) and making sure I have multiples of my medications as well.  I will be packing these medications in different bags reducing my chances of losing any medications for reasons such as loss or misplaced luggage.  In order to make sure I am safe in flight, I contacted the airlines I will be travelling with and made sure all snacks provided are nut free—I have a nut allergy and some airlines apparently will still distribute peanuts as snacks, luckily my airline does not.  I did have trouble finding a meal that is offered by the airline which is egg, nut and wheat free since my airlines were unfortunately not that accommodating.  Since I am aware of this I am able to plan ahead and make sure I bring enough food to last me for the long flight.

There’s no question there is a lot of extra planning needed for travelling when you have food allergies but your allergies should never be a limitation from exploring the world.  Stay tuned and I will post a follow up blog in June talking about how my trip went and how I was able to manage my allergies while travelling.

What are some of your travel experiences, and how did you accommodate your allergies?

Travel

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4 responses

  1. Thank you so much for posting this blog post! While I have more allergies than you have, you have made me let go of my fear of not being able to travel internationally with food allergies. After being rejected for an international program because of my food allergies (they couldn’t guarantee a cook or a kitchen for me), I became worried that I would never be able to travel out of the country. I felt that my food allergies were hindering me but your blog post has provided me with the hope and confidence that I will be able to travel abroad, food allergies and all.

  2. I am a mother of a young boy who has the exact same allergies as you do. He is on a gluten free, vegan and nut free diet. He has had an anaphylactic reaction before. So amazed at your courage and positive attitude. We find it a challenge. I think our little guy feels he is the only one with these allergies. I think you set a really positive example. Do you ever reach out to young kids to give them that sense of faith and encouragement?

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