Cuba!

What’s up internet world? My name’s Gardner. I’m 21 years old, allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and currently enrolled in an Ontario university.

In stereotypical university-style, my friends and I decided that we were going to go away for Reading Week, and we decided on a 5-star resort in Cuba.

Map of Cuba

Prior to leaving, especially with my allergies, I was concerned. I had never flown on a plane before or been to a country where English was not the primary language spoken, so I was naturally nervous. I got in contact with the resort, and found out that they often have families with allergies stay with them, and there were no peanuts or tree nuts on the resort. However, they couldn’t promise that the food wouldn’t have some traces in it, because food labeling standards are nowhere near as high as they are in Canada. After talking to them, I felt relieved, but still slightly nervous.

I did end up committing to the trip, even without their guarantee of safety. At this point, I must admit: that may not have been the safest idea. I took a risk, and I could have been more diligent before deciding whether or not to attend. However, when I got there, I did take steps to minimize the risk when it came to eating. For example, I tried to stick with simple foods, such as rice, corn, and pizza, and I didn’t eat desserts.

By taking steps to minimize risk, and with some luck, I made it through the week without incident. I had no issues getting my epinephrine auto-injector through airport security, no issues with food on the plane, and no issues in Cuba.

Looking back, I’m glad I went, because it allowed me to have one of the greatest weeks of my life, with some of my closest friends, and moments I’ll never forget. I highly recommend that anyone take a vacation like this – as long as they feel comfortable with the situation and take steps to minimize the risks. I guarantee, you won’t regret it!

Stay beautiful,

Gardner

For more safe travel tips, explore the following resources:

Anaphylaxis Canada – Travel section

Food Allergy Awareness Month, tip of the day – When traveling with a group, make your  companions aware of your allergies. Tell them how they can help you stay safe and show them how to use your epinephrine auto-injector! Building awareness helps to create allergy safe communities. For more information about Food Allergy Awareness Month, visit www.whyriskit.ca.

“From Vegas to Athens…” Traveling Abroad With Allergies

Hi everyone! My name is Saverio. I have been a member of YAP for three years, now, and I am allergic to tree nuts.

March Break brings with it numerous opportunities to discover new places, meet new people, and learn about a variety of different cultures. Since I’ll be traveling outside of the country this March Break, I would like to take this opportunity to share some key tips for traveling abroad.

First of all, when choosing a destination, look for hotels or resorts that may be able to accommodate you with your allergy. Do some research, and try calling the hotel that you’re considering to ask them if their rooms are equipped with kitchenettes. Hotels that offer these rooms make me feel the safest, because it allows me to take control over what I am eating and how the food is prepared, eliminating a lot of anxiety.

If you want to eat-out, make sure you talk to the chef directly, helping him or her to understand the severity of your allergy. This can be a little tricky when traveling in countries where there is a language barrier – but try to talk to the chef anyways. Feel-out the situation and decide to eat at the restaurant or not, based on whether you are comfortable eating there.

Airplanes on the runwayIf you are planning to fly, research your airline, and notify them of your allergies well in advance. Ask them if they have any allergy-policies in place. Also, be sure to pack some of your favorite snacks with you before traveling, for a quick and safe snack before and while flying.

Wherever you’re going, don’t forget to bring your auto-injector! It’s a good idea to bring an extra device (or two!) in case you have to use one while you’re away. You might not be able to find a replacement in the country you’re visiting.

From Vegas to Athens, traveling with allergies does not have to be a drag. As long as you follow these simple steps, you are on your way to enjoying a relaxing and safe vacation!

For more helpful tips, check out the Travel section of www.whyriskit.ca and watch our video:

March Break

Hello everybody! My name is Karen, and I am allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and soy protein.

March Break is here – and if you’re like me, we’re unfortunately staying home for the holidays. It just so happens that we won’t be lying in the sun or hitting the slopes. But there are still fun and new things that you can do in your hometown, while staying allergen free!

This week, a few of my friends and I have planned events that will take us through the week in no time. Maybe you’d like to try them out too. We’ll be going bowling, eating out, cooking dinner, and visiting my sister at university. There will be a few times where I’ll need to take extra precautions, but if I’m prepared everything should go just fine.

Cooking with allergies

What’s your favourite allergy-safe recipe?

One night, we’re going to cook dinner together out of a new recipe book. It is always fun to try new recipes, especially because you are the chef and can make sure that you’re staying safe. Because I’m cooking with my friends, we picked the recipes together to ensure that I will be able to eat everything that we are making. We’re planning to go to the grocery store together, and I’ll be checking all the ingredient lists, just to be safe. One of my biggest challenges, though, is that we won’t be cooking in my kitchen. I’ve asked my friend to make sure that all the dishes and utensils will be safe for the night a few days in advance so that there won’t be any cross-contamination.

We’re also planning to try a new restaurant. Sometimes this can be a little risky – but as long as I call ahead and let them know of my allergy, things will hopefully go well and they will be able to accommodate me. I take many of the same steps as Noah does (check out his previous entry), and so far I’ve had great experiences!

Teens eating outsideThe most exciting part of our week, however, is when we go to visit my sister in university. We’ll be staying at her house with her roommates. I have never met any of them, and I’m sure none of them know about my allergy. I have already asked my sister to ensure that the kitchen is allergen-free, since that will be a common area for everyone, and to let them know about my allergy. I have already looked into potential restaurants that we could be eating at, looked into their menu, and called to make sure that their meals will be safe for me. Of course, when we make a final decision, I’ll call again and let them know about my allergy and double-check that everything will be okay.

Even though I won’t be going very far this March Break, I still want to have some fun! As long as I take those extra steps and bring my auto-injector, I’ve done what I can to be prepared.

What will you be doing this March Break? And how are you keeping safe?