For advice on severe allergies, visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website or drop us a line / 01252 542029 /@ACOutthere/@Anaphylaxiscoms

Friday, 29 July 2016

Amy Holland: Travelling with severe allergies

I am 23 years old and have had a severe allergy to peanuts and sesame all my life so have never known any different. I have always wanted to travel around Europe but always thought that going to new countries (without my mum!) would be too challenging. Although I have abroad many times before, I usually stick to resorts I know and ones where everyone can speak English! This year, I decided that I wanted to explore more cities in Europe and that by planning ahead maybe it wouldn't be as difficult as I had thought. I wanted to share my experiences of travelling around Europe as it might just give someone the confidence to travel to these places or there might be a little bit of it that would be useful in the future.

I travelled to Amsterdam, Prague, Barcelona and Lisbon, staying in mainly hotels and flying between each place. I was pleased with the airlines, where most made announcements and all refused to sell nuts on the flight. I always wipe down the areas around me on planes in case someone has eaten peanuts on the flight before. I look like a bit of a clean freak but the the tray tables never look very clean anyway!

Obviously I'm not a very adventurous eater but I don't really mind what I'm eating as long as I know it's safe and I've been fed! I felt quite nervous about eating while being away, especially in Prague, so I took loads of cereal bars and small boxes of cereals in the suitcase. It was definitely worth it even if I had to sacrifice a pair of shoes!! In two of our hotels, we had breakfast included. My initial plan was to use the allergy cards I'd brought with me but instead I smuggled a small box of cereal in to the breakfast room and had that! I knew it was safe and felt much better having that and some fruit rather than risking their food.

I can't give you a big list of restaurants as I stuck to 3 different places over the two weeks! I had emailed loads of restaurants before I went on my trip to ask whether they could cater for my allergy. Most didn't reply, some just sent the allergen menu to me and a few sent me detailed information of how they could change dishes to accommodate me. Hard Rock Cafe gave the best information and I ate there loads. I have eaten there before, and in each place they advised me on a burger without the bun which was really tasty. They were excellent with hand over notes when they changed shifts as I was also introduced to the next member of staff and the previous staff member explained the severity of my allergies to them. I had a Hard Rock Cafe in Amsterdam and Prague and honestly couldn't fault it and felt safe throughout the meal. I had also researched a place called CAU in Amsterdam who were also very good with allergies however I couldn't have much except a very fancy steak at lunchtime!

The other place I ate out at was McDonald's. I did ultimately become very bored of chicken nuggets but I wasn't really bothered as long as I ate! Obviously McDonald's were fab and although it's not very exciting, I'd much rather be safe. It was really reassuring to know there were so many McDonald's around as I knew I was safe there and that I wasn't going to die of hunger during the holiday!

Everyone I spoke to in restaurants had excellent English, I found in Barcelona there was the greatest language barrier so I stuck mainly to McDonald's while I was there. I also bought crisps and snacks for the day from supermarkets (there was a Tesco and M&S in Prague and an M&S in Amsterdam) and made sure to thoroughly check the ingredients! It was nice in M&S as although it was pricey, the ingredients were in English!

I know I said I'd write a quick message and it's actually been very long but I wanted to share my experiences. I would have loved to have this information before I went and hopefully some of it will be useful to you all.

I really enjoyed my experience there and never felt compromised by my allergies while I was away. Although my diet wasn't very exciting, all that I was bothered about was being safe and at least I could treat myself to the occasional cocktail!


  1. Really good to read about your experience. Sounds like you had a great time and knew what you were doing. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing your experiences, this has made me feel a lot better as a 24 year old nut allergic. I've just been travelling solo in Europe and I brought allergy cards with me to be all adventurous but in the end I've ended up eating a lot of fruit and at Burger King and Pizzeria's! I've felt a bit boring, but at the end of the day safety is the most important thing, and it doesn't mean you can't still have a really full and exciting experience of the country :)

  3. Hi Amy, well done for sharing ur experiences with everyone, it's very interesting. Hope u had a great time travelling too and enjoyed urself.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing! I've always wanted to travel Europe but feel terrified to do it with my allergy to nuts. Is yours airborne?