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Friday, 1 November 2013

Travelling with allergies part 1: Say hi to Stephen!


Here's the first in a series of posts written by AC member, student and soon to be travel extraordinaire, Stephen as he begins his travels around the world for 8 long months. We'll be posting updates on his adventures, trials and tribulations every Wednesday afternoon, so stay tuned and watch this space...

"Hi everyone!

My name's Stephen and I’m an 18 year old student who is about to embark on an 8 month trip of a lifetime around the world before I take up my place at university in September 2014. 

My allergies

I'm not just a student going travelling - I also have anaphylaxis. I'm severely allergic to eggs, all nuts and shellfish. These all pose a constant risk while travelling, especially in foreign countries. I've been lucky enough to have visited many foreign countries while growing up including Cuba, South Africa, Egypt, Italy and other exciting places - of course taking my allergies with me! 

My travel buddy is one of my best mates, Ollie (that's us together in the picture, he's on the left!), but I'll also be visiting friends and relatives on route.

I intend to send regular updates for the Anaphylaxis Campaign's blog to keep you all posted on my progress and let you know how I'm getting on, especially with my allergies. I'm well aware that travelling with food allergies for some people is considered risky, however I see it as a challenge and with some necessary precautions in place, I believe anyone can travel!

Planning: Fail to prepare? Prepare to fail!

Before leaving the UK I made sure to get some translation cards for all the countries I'll be visiting. These clearly state my food allergies, their severity and the foods which I can't eat. The cards also have emergency information on to help me seek medical advice if I have a reaction. I have used translation cards in the past and have never had a reaction abroad through using a combo of the cards, common sense and a lot of patience! I would strongly recommend taking travel cards - I got mine from YellowCross and some from SelectWisely. I also have some picture cards which show nuts and other things I can't eat for use in areas where even the language cards may not do the job. 

As part of my planning I have been reading about the main staple diets and dishes in the countries I am visiting. This has opened my eyes to some countries such as China and Thailand, where I will have to be particularly careful. As ever, I'm still going to have to judge how well the cards and pictures have been understood before eating anything. If in doubt I'll hold back and just eat simple foods I know I can trust, For emergencies I have also brought a couple of camping bag meals which are available at camping shops. I hope I don’t have to eat them, but they're always there for if I get completely stuck!

My route 

We begin our trip with a flight to Moscow where we board the famous Trans-Siberian Express (Vodka Train!). Aboard this train we travel east through Russia arriving in Irkustk for a trip to Lake Baikal. Then onwards again into Mongolia to Ulaanbaatar, a few nights in a Yurt to allow us a rest from the train, before back onto the train for the journey to Beijing. The train journey lasts 12 days before arriving in Beijing!

From there, we're spending 7 days in Beijing, 7 Days in Xi'an and 7 days in Chengdu with yet more train travel to connect our stops. At this point in the trip we would be edging on having travelled 11,000km from London to Chengdu!

From Chengdu we fly into Bangkok in Thailand where we spend 5 days 'relaxing' before travelling up to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. After a week in Chiang Mai we travel back down to Bangkok for 2 more nights before starting our travels through the Thai Islands of Ko Tao, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Samui. From these islands we travel through Surat Thani to Phuket and from Phuket we fly to Singapore.

Me (right) & Ollie at the airport before departure!
We then fly from Singapore to Australia where we will be travelling down the east coast hopefully finding work within the 3 months. We finish our trip with 2 months in New Zealand visiting a number of relatives and friends before returning in mid June 2014.

I hope this travel log will give you a better insight to my allergies and how it is possible to cope with severe allergies while abroad. I will post new parts when suitable on my travel to keep you informed of my progress and how I’m coping including any tips and techniques I may develop to aid the language barrier. 

There will of course be regular pictures showing just how much fun (I hope) that I am having! 

That's all for now as I'm off pretty soon, but I'll write again! 

Stephen :)"

PLEASE NOTE: While the content of guest posts is checked for validity and accuracy at the time of posting, the Anaphylaxis Campaign is not responsible for the contents of, nor endorses the advice or information held within posts written by guest bloggers. Official information and advice can be found at


  1. Will be following your blog with interest. Although still young my son has your allergies among others and I worried he would not be able to experience the joys of travel. Good luck, stay safe and have a fantastic time.

  2. good luck. My teen came closest to a reaction when travelling on a flight from Singapore to Australia. Someone opened a large bag of peanuts just a seat or two away. Try not to fly with Qantas and make sure you have something you can eat for the flights.

  3. Looking forward to your blog! So cool that you are travelling around the world with your allergies. You are an inspiration to us and your blog will hopefully be really helpful to show my daughter with anaphylaxis to one day do the same... Have a fabulous (and safe) trip!

  4. Good luck. I travelled around Australia and New Zealand when I was in my 20's and I only had to deal with coeliac. My son has a peanut allergy and I would love him to be able to travel the world one day. What you are doing is an inspiration and gives me hope that one day my son can travel the world. .take care.

  5. Stephen, I applaud you and your friend Ollie, for getting out into the world and enjoying yourselves. It's absolutely fantastic that you are taking your allergies with you and have prepared as well as you have!
    I will follow your blog with great interest as my son Henry who is 12 has anaphylaxis to eggs and milk and a couple of antibiotics too. It has only been this year that I have had enough confidence to take him abroad and we have visited Portugal, Greece and France this year alone and the US a few years ago.
    I hope you have a marvellous time.
    Kindest regards, Clare.

  6. Good Luck Stephen, I hope you have a fantastic but safe adventure. My son with Anaphylaxis to milk, egg, wasp and bee did Australia in his gap year and had a great time.My other son Nick is currently travelling on the trans-siberian railway all the way to China, so I'm following your posts with interest!

  7. OMG!! So pleased i came across your blog. I think its fantastic that your out there travelling with all your allergies. I did the Australia East coast years ago and would love my children to go out and see some of the world as you are. My youngest Alex who is 3 is anaphylaxis to peanuts and I'm hyperventilating at the thought of taking him on holiday, lol (all new to me at the minute ). Reading this has given me the confidence i need to get on that plane and have a lovely family holiday once again….Good luck to you both and stay safe….Carla

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